Look To Yourself First
One of the more frustrating things that we experience as humans being during these challenging times is when we discover that some of the people we care about have notions, beliefs, ideas, and opinions that run absolutely counter to our own.
Because we've spent more time online these past many months, we are often confronted with this fact more than we would have been in the past.
Social media isn't a great breeding ground for trust and confidence in our fellow humans anyway, but it can be downright disorienting when the offensive posts and comments we're reading are from friends and loved ones.
I've had a few low moments during the past year as I realized some of my close friends were so far apart from me on most of the big issues that matter.
It also created some serious cognitive dissonance because what they were proclaiming online wasn't congruent with the person I thought I knew. It was painful to try and reconcile their seemingly newfound opinions with what I'd always believed to be true about them.
How do we stay in a community with people who disagree with us? What do we do when we find that people we respect, care about, or even love hold beliefs that are in direct opposition to our own?
Something that I am trying to learn is that I need to take Jesus' advice when it comes to this kind of thing. Jesus once told his followers that before they passed judgment on someone, they needed to look to themselves first.
"Get rid of the huge board in your own eye," he told his disciples, "before telling someone to get rid of the speck of dust in their own."
On the occasions when I've been able to act with some spiritual maturity (rare occasions, if I'm being honest), I've come to the realization that the friend or loved one I'm disappointed in... is probably feeling the same way about me.
When we are fearful, frustrated, and angry---we tend to find ways to either justify our feelings in the world around us or to assuage them by scapegoating, shaming, or othering those who hold a different view.
Most (but not all) of the people who push our buttons are most likely doing the very same things that we are---trying to make sense of a chaotic world as best they can.
Our efforts can often set us on a collision course that leaves everyone bruised and bloodied to the extent that unity seems out of the question. But all of this could be avoided if we would simply follow Jesus' advice.
Fr. Richard Rohr wrote about this very issue not too long ago, and this one line continues to speak to me today:
Most people do not see things as they are, they see things as they are.
Friends, if we could all internalize that very true and challenging statement, it would pave the way for us to be able to show more forbearance toward one another and could create pathways to common ground and understanding.
You see when we realize that we also see the world as we are, it might temper our reactions to those with whom we disagree by adding a measure of humility, and a dose of reality, as well.