Every time I turn around it seems people are debating over who’s right and who’s wrong. Why is it that we as humans find it necessary to beat others into submission? Why do we feel compelled to force others to believe in what we choose to believe. Why do we feel that our values and beliefs are the only true and correct ones? Where did this mentality come from and how do we get it to stop??? All you have to do is watch the news or look on social media….they are both filled with people pushing their agenda and explaining why their way is right and everyone else’s way is wrong. Personally, I find it quite maddening.
I will be the first to admit that my system of beliefs don’t flow well with the majority of the population. I believe in the Creator God. I believe in Angels and Guides. I believe in Spirit. I believe in life after “death” and I believe in reincarnation. I believe in these things because I see them every single day in my work. That being said, I do not openly discuss my views on these topics unless asked. Obviously, I talk about them at great length while I am working, but that’s only because people have paid to hear what I have to say. I do not go out into the world and tell everyone that has a different lifestyle or belief system from me that they are wrong. Why? Because I respect each and every single person for who they are. They are here getting through their own private and personal journey just like me. They are having their own experiences and learning their own lessons. How selfish would it be of me to take any of that away from them? But that brings me back to the original question: Why can’t we accept people for who they are without trying to change them or what they believe? For those of us who grew up with Sesame Street, they always showcased people’s differences….ethnicity, religious, physical, etc….and told us it was ok for us all to be different from one another. We really need more Sesame Street right about now.
Just because we take the time to listen to someone or (heaven forbid) actually hear and make an effort to understand them, doesn’t mean we are wavering from who we are. It merely means we are opening ourselves up to empathize with others. To try to put ourselves in their shoes. Once we have an understanding of the journey someone is on, we can then apply patience, kindess and love. I’m not trying to turn the world into that Coke commercial from the 70’s (those of you older than 40 will understand that reference), but just hear me out on this.
Back in the mid-90’s, I was working in a sales office in Atlanta, Georgia. One afternoon, there was just one other salesperson in the office with me. We both had brought our lunches to work with us, so we decided to stay in and eat. While we were sitting there, we began talking about religion. This particular woman is Jewish and at the time, I identified more with Christianity and knew very little about Judaism. I asked her all sorts of questions about why Jewish people only believed in the Old Testament, why they ate what they did, and about several of their holidays and traditions. She answered every single question I had with patience and kindness. Not once did she get offended at anything I had asked. The dialogue flowed easily and comfortably, as if I had just asked her where she had purchased her shoes. Then she began to question me on why Christians believed in Jesus, what was in the New Testament and several of our traditions. I offered up answers as best as I could. When our lunch was over and it was time to get back to work, we carried on like we always had. Neither of us had been offended and no feelings had been hurt. But I felt like I had a better understanding of my co-worker. I knew her background and what played a part in her decision making. And I was still Christian. Our talk did not suddenly turn me Jewish. I was still the same person I was before our conversation, only a little bit wiser.
The same thing happened between myself and another friend. The woman was married at the time, but very unhappy. She was married to a man, but she confided in me that she had no attraction to men at all. She had always been attracted to women, she said, but had always been afraid to tell anyone. One night while she was at my house, we had a long talk about her feelings, her wants and her desires. I had asked her what made her attracted to women. She answered very openly and honestly, going into detail about everything from emotions to sex. We had a very intimate talk about everything that made her tick. At the end of our time together that night, I had a good understanding of my dear friend. She went on to divorce her husband and, at the time of this writing, she is married to a woman. She was my friend when she was living a life with a man, and she continued to be my friend after she began seeing women. Our talk didn’t make me want to explore her lifestyle. I’m still straight and I have a wonderful, long-term relationship with a man. But I can only imagine how unhappy I would be with life if someone told me that I could only date women because that is what they believe to be right.
The same rules apply to politics, too. The reason people prefer one candidate over another one is clear: Candidate A appeals to some people based on their life, their economic status and their belief system. Your life may be nothing like your neighbor’s, and that’s why you are backing different people in the presidential race. Everyone has their own unique view on life and they make decisions based on these views. You can’t possibly be expected to understand unless you take the time, listen and get to know people. What is good for one person may just be a nightmare for another. To be perfectly honest, I intensively dislike election time. I can’t tell you the number of people I unfollow on Facebook until the elections are over. The constant name calling, hateful memes and arrogant opinions are enough to make me want to stay off social media all together. We tell everyone that we have the right to express our voice as we see fit, but when others do it, it’s wrong and cause for an onslaught of verbal battery. The bickering and fighting seriously hurts my heart. People get especially vicious around election time.
I guess my point to all of this is simple: Let people be who they are and leave them alone. Not everyone is going to be just like you (and how truly boring would that be?) My friend was miserable trying to be something she wasn’t. Once she admitted who she really was and began to live authentically, her life improved dramatically. Do you remember the old John Lennon song “Whatever Gets You Thru The Night”? That’s kind of my motto. Don’t force people to believe in the same things you do or to live the way you find morally right. They are just trying to get through this life the same way you are. They are putting one foot in front of the other and doing the best they can…..just like you. I’m not certain any of us have it 100% correct, so do the best YOU can and let everyone else live the life they NEED to.