I’m amazed at the fact that we as people can come at a problem from two different angles or viewpoints and still end up feeling the same way about it. We’re all so complex and, while we have many very real differences, I believe we have a lot more in common than we think.
The other day, I was talking with a friend about Harriet Tubman and news of her picture being printed on the $20 bill. Originally, she was supposed to grace the front of the bill in the year 2020, yet that seems unlikely to happen any time soon. Both of us were annoyed by this fact but, halfway through the conversation, I realized we were annoyed for different reasons. We each had put our unique filters on this particular situation based on our experiences. He was upset because his race isn’t being represented and I was upset because my gender isn’t being represented. We both reached the same conclusion but got there by traveling on different mental paths.
This is what I love about having conversations in diverse groups: we can learn so much about our differences and our similarities.
I will always filter my experiences through the lens of a white, middle-class, American woman. I will see things through the perspective of my faith, my background, my education, and my worldview. The fact that I’m an only child, an Enneagram 3, an introvert, and a recovering workaholic all impact how I see the world.
Because of my default setting, I can look at a situation on the news or something happening in my backyard and view it completely differently than my neighbor. And a difference in opinion doesn’t necessarily mean that one is right and one is wrong. In our binary world, we’re taught that it’s either ‘yes’ or ‘no’, ‘right’ or ‘wrong’, and ‘good’ or ‘bad’. But what if we took a moment to be okay with some differences? What would our world look like if we dared to examine our beliefs, experiences, and worldviews so that we understood what we were bringing into a situation?
If you’ve experienced the tumultuousness of eviction, you might save money differently than a person who has always had enough.
If you worked your way through college, you might value higher education more than someone whose schooling was paid for.
If you’ve been discriminated against based solely on the color of your skin, you might view authority differently than those who haven’t.
One of the most incredible things about the church is that we are all from such diverse backgrounds and experiences and yet we can be united by a shared faith in the Lord. While we might have the opportunity to disagree about a thousand other things, we can be united in following Him. And when we encounter different perspectives, we can take the time to listen and understand and empathize with another group of people because that’s what Jesus did.
Let’s take the time to examine our own beliefs and what’s influencing them first before judging another. Then, hopefully, when we know where we’re starting from, we can start a dialogue with another. I believe the church has an opportunity to reach across the aisle, include those are different, and love others who might not be so loveable to the world.
Do you ever think about where your perspectives come from?
What value does listening to another provide?