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The distance between us


Out of 10 children, I live the farthest from everyone. The rest of the family are in N. America. A few months ago I was able to visit them. The occasion was my father’s 80th birthday. This sort of ‘get together’ seems to happen about once every ten years, mostly due to the fact that we’re a very large family.

So one evening after dinner, we’re sitting around at Mom and Dad’s and the conversation goes to politics, and religion… What else, right?

As a family we’re pretty well aligned in our thinking, beliefs, etc. with the possible exception of myself (I’ll let the family make their own judgments about that, though I don’t think I’ve ‘strayed’ as far as they probably think I have) for I have moved on it would seem to me. So we are sitting around talking, and having fun conversation as we love to do and it wasn’t long until people began to argue. Nothing serious mind you, though if you didn’t know us you might think that we were getting angry or something. No, feelings rarely get hurt over these sorts of arguments, but I’ve been thinking about that night.

What is it that allows us (people in general and my family in particular) to argue so well, even with those we agree with. I mean in politics for example, I was probably the only black sheep there. (I thought that Bush was bad for America) But it wasn’t long until everyone is arguing about us politics. The conversation went to religion and that same thing happened only with a bit more passion because we’re a religious family. So, did we argue and solve anything? Never has happened yet. Did we change anyone’s opinions? Nope, everyone just got more entrenched and lonely. And how much distance between the actual ideas was there? Not so much as a centimeter if it could be measured that way. You’d have a difficult time finding a more aligned group.

So now I’m thinking about bigger more serious arguments that take place in our world and I’m thinking, why do we (people) always seem to look to our differences, no matter how small they might be, and act as if this was the only thing real?

So today, I recommit myself to looking at our samenesses. What an amazing world we might live in one day, if we could only just turn around, and look at the other, to find the multitude of ways in which we are aligned.

Of course, we have some wonderful examples of this in the world and in our history. Perhaps you might add their names here as a comment.

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  1. February 21, 2010 at 7:37 pm

    It has also been my observation that no one ever is able to change another person’s mind. No matter how much arguing, or how good of an example is given, people can never be made to change their mind. I guess that is why we have the expression, “my mind is made up!”

    • February 22, 2010 at 1:17 am

      It has often been said that no one ever wins an argument. It’s amazing that arguing is still so prevalent! It somehow bolsters our sense of self-worth or value, but I believe it’s an illusion. Keep in mind that arguing and taking a firm position are not the same – positions require negotiation.

      I find it very helpful to think about the underlying values or ideals that are the basis of an argument. If you can understand the other’s reasons, whether they do or not, then it’s fairly simple to use metaphors to help them create new ideas. In fact the hard work here is in taking the time to understand the other person. Generally, I find that bullying my way through on things is the easy, natural way but it never really works very well.

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