“All you need is love”. I used to disagree with that statement when I thought that love was just a feeling, but now I know love is so much more than that. I actually think that love heals. Love, the verb, can change this broken and hurting world. But how to begin? Well, we do the next right thing, one thing at a time. Would you like to join me?
Let’s begin with a few short stories.
Every now and then I get a client that I don’t initially like. And yet, every time this happens, all I have to do is listen some more to understand why they are as they are. I see the pain and hurt behind the behavior. I see the fear of being hurt again underneath the need to push people away. Not only does this help me like them, but it also makes me love them. My love is the most healing thing I can offer my clients.
I became a Christian in college. Once I did, I was told that Christians are Republicans. I didn’t really understand why, something about abortion. Honestly, I was so new in my faith, I just wanted to be a good Christian. I didn’t understand yet that I was still allowed to use my mind and think for myself. I was still allowed to be myself. Loving God back didn’t mean that I had to change, I later learned. Loving God back made me a better version of the person I already was. I voted for Bush that year despite not believing he was the better candidate. I voted for him because I was a Christian and Christians are Republicans.
Around that time, I also decided that homosexuality was a sin. Being bisexual was greedy. I had no real basis for believing these things. They were just some errant passing thoughts and ideas, but I hadn’t talked to any gay people to come to these conclusions. Over time, I began knowing and talking to more people who are not like me. I began reading and listening and changing my views. I began to see the complexities of issues that I was never knowledgeable enough to even have an opinion on in the first place. Fortunately for me, I’ve always been interested in knowing people and hearing their stories. I think it saved me from myself.
I am confused by people who feel the need to loudly express their opinions about things they don’t know anything about. If you haven’t listened, I mean truly sought to understand both sides of an argument, you don’t have enough knowledge to have a valid opinion. But that’s just my opinion.
At some point in our society, we became more and more polarized. Somehow we’ve come to the conclusion that if you are ____________, you have to subscribe to all the things in the bucket that come with that. Maybe it’s because we’ve become so accustomed to letting other people do our thinking for us. We unfollow or unfriend the folks who believe or behave differently than we do, watch only the news channel that aligns with our beliefs, and ignore the literature that doesn’t subscribe to the things we already agree with. We see what we believe, instead of allowing ourselves to really see and then believe.
It’s not either or, but BOTH/AND.
I mostly vote Democrat AND I hate abortion. I hate that it feels like the only choice to some women and I hate what it does to them. I have compassion for the women who find themselves making that decision. I have compassion for the fallout, pain, and shame that abortion brings. I feel deep sadness for the lives that could have been.
I am a Christian AND I believe that homosexuals deserve equal rights and the opportunity to marry, to serve in the church, and to worship God freely without condemnation and judgement. I am a Christian AND I believe that people have the right to be on the outside who they are on the inside. I am a Christian AND I have anxiety.
I am White women AND I think Black women are probably having more fun than I am. I am White and I love going to movies, worshiping, and just generally being around Black people because they tend to express themselves and show how they feel out loud and I wish more White people felt free to do that.
I believe that all lives matter AND that Black Lives Matter because they are the ones being threatened. I believe Black Lives Matter because the statistics and the crying mothers tell me they are more in danger than White lives.
I am firmly in support of #metoo and any movement that gives women unprecedented freedom to tell the truth AND I love men.
I believe that EVERY person can teach me something, especially the people I don’t agree with or the people that I don’t understand yet.
I am completely ok if you disagree with me. I don’t think that one side is all right and one side is all wrong. Things are not always so black and white. Through conversation, I will likely see why you feel as you do, even if I still disagree. I will even probably still like you.
I believe that EVERY person can teach me something, especially the people I don’t agree with or the people that I don’t know yet.
Why do we create these divides instead of seeking to understand all sides?
When we reduce people solely to members of a certain group, we lose sight of the humanity and complexity of the individuals who are a part of the group. They become less human and easier to hate.
I think we all learn best through stories, and I would like to hear yours.
I’m on a mission to show people how easy it is to open our minds and how much more we have in common than we realize. First, I’d like to interview and record conversations with folks who are the most discriminated against/have the least privilege in our culture. My next round of conversations will be with people I disagree with. I will buy you coffee, or we can talk on skype. I want to get to know you, hear your story, and share that story through this blog.
Please share with anyone you know who might be willing to participate. Thank you!
I’m looking for the following folks to have a conversation with…
A gay couple
A Muslim person
A Black man
A transgender person