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Wednesday, December 11, 2013


The word “they” is one we often use to hide behind some assumptions, fears, or insecurities.  It usually goes like this: They always…  They would never… They don’t… They feel… They hate…

By impersonalizing the other, we give ourselves permission to characterize them in ways that are convenient to ourselves.  It if far easier to paint others, especially those we don’t know, in broad strokes, with vivid colors, and clear lines of demarcation.

However, when we think carefully about the people we truly KNOW in some of those categories (e.g., conservatives, liberals, Christians, Muslims, hicks, goths, athletes, republicans, democrats, Baptists, Catholics, geeks, gang bangers, etc.), our assumptions about what THEY are like often get turned upside down.

What usually happens to me when I actually take the time to engage with a person I really don’t know, to listen to them carefully, to interface with them on a personal level, is that I end up realizing what a mistake it was/is for me to assume things about them.  Many things.  ANYTHING about them based on their politics, their religion, their color, their age, their economic status…  THEY usually turn out to be far more like me than I assumed, or could have even conceived.

THEY are almost always very similar to me in these kinds of ways:
  • Wondering if we’re really making a difference.
  • Not as certain about things as we would like to be.
  • Worried about the state of our nation/world.
  • A little apprehensive about what old age holds for us.
  • Struggling to make ends meet.
  • Want the very best for our children and grandchildren.
  • Praying to stay (or get) healthy.
  • Hoping we’re at least marginally close in our approach to spirituality.

  • When I actually get to KNOW the other, THEY almost always turn out to be a whole lot like me.

    Here’s to more knowing, and less judging.

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