Adapted From The Deepening Place E10: Divided We Fall; Allowing Perspective
Allowing the perspective of another can feel scary, we become attached to our beliefs and it’s difficult to allow ourselves to consider the perspective of someone who thinks or believes differently.
I’ve heard people say that no matter who you sit down with, even a hardened criminal in jail, if you have a conversation with them, you might not walk away agreeing with them or feeling like you have anything in common, but most of the time you’ll have an “ah-ha” moment. A moment when you get their perspective, you understand why they are the way they are.
That type of openness and curiosity leads toward Union. The temptation is to fear, judge and demonize the person who is different. In that frame of mind, it’s easy to believe that you have nothing to learn from them; they are “other.” Part of this is our natural process of simplifying and categorizing; our mind’s attempt to keep us safe. In love, we have to learn to override this system, learn to see.
To be open to someone else’s perspective and allow them to inform you of it, doesn’t mean you agree; you don’t have to feel threatened about your own perspective or belief. Getting out of your mind and ego where it’s important to be right, and into the heart where connection is valued, is an important first step.
I like the the analogy of the wrestling mat, like, “hey, you wanna go?”
If I have something that I think might be true and you have something that you think might be true, then let’s discuss it, let’s dig down, and hopefully we both walk away knowing a little bit more than we did when we started. It’s not about being right or wrong.
We’re called to love each other and part of that is understanding each other. Too often, to protect ourselves, we feel pressured to choose a side; “Okay, that sounds good to me; I’m gonna go with that group.” We get the talking points of the group and feel relief at the certainty of coming to a conclusion, we appreciate the feeling of belonging. When we encounter someone with a different idea or perspective that doesn’t line up with the talking points, we feel threatened.
From Love we can allow someone to say, “Hey, I have a perspective on that from my real life. Would you like to hear it?” When that is allowed, we understand them a little better; that’s how it’s supposed to work.
Before the great shut-down, I regularly went to a community gathering; a group of people that would meet and talk about what was going on in Austin and in the world. One day I walked in, and there was a lady I had never met before. As soon as I sat down, she said, “Oh, are you an activist?” I didn’t know this person, she didn’t know me. She wanted to know if we had the same talking points.
We did not. I know this because when I said things that might lead to new knowledge, or an understanding of a different perspective, she became angry; I didn’t agree with all the talking points, I was off script and she didn’t know how to handle the feeling of her belief being threatened.
Sharing beliefs and ideas leads to new life. Refusing to see, making someone bad or evil because their beliefs and ideas are different than mine, is a path straight to Hell; history proves this. In order to re-establish a sense of unity among our fellow Americans, we must realize that it is not the one who has different ideas who is the enemy, it is the one who cultivates fear toward the one who has different ideas who is the enemy.