A Student of Humanity
BY: T. Franklin Murphy | April 2018
Appreciating, Not Fearing Differences
The strength of our nation and world will come from more open-mindedness. When we blame, shun, or attack others because of differences, everyone loses. We live in fear and bigoted hate.
We feel security when surrounded by others that share beliefs. We flock together in sameness. We naturally fear differences; they don’t easily fit into our schemas of life, challenging the correctness of our perceptions. These tendencies of seeking sameness and avoiding differences become the foundation for discrimination, violence and wars. An ethical approach demands we scrutinize these tendencies of division, reaching beyond impulse to create a better world.
More important than the political issues that separate one group from another is the world we create as we work together. Ethical leaders should primarily seek greater cohesion of the people they lead, rather than advancing one ideology over another. Sadly, some use the pedestal of their office to enhance divides and magnify fears, uniting majorities to oppress the minority. This is the corruption that destroys people.
The same principle applies to relationships on a smaller scale. The goal isn’t to get as much as possible at great cost to the partner. Ultimately, this path destroys trust, and builds resentments. The relationship flourishes when seen as a whole, respecting both parties wants and needs, seeking win-win solutions whenever possible, and compromising when differences can’t be mutually resolved. This approach, overtime, satisfies more needs for both participants in the relationship.
I don't like the concept of tolerating differences; I much prefer embracing differences. We spend too much time debating with closed minds, unwilling to expand views beyond our silly little selves. Even suggesting there are alternative views will send the diehard into a tizzy. Life is complex. Usually multiple views are because an issue has significant trade-offs without a clearly defined “better’ way. But in the angry exchange of words, we blind ourselves to those hurt by following one path over the another. We pretend that one political view benefits all; when usually there are clear winners and losers.
"We spend too much time debating with closed minds, unwilling to expand views beyond our silly little selves."
The frailties of the mind intrude on logic. We grasp beliefs and refuse to update our belief as new evidence flows. We blind ourselves to contrary information while embracing flimsy supports. We too often support damaging ideologies long after the evidence has unveiled the damage of the beliefs. Proudly, and stupidly we march forward to the edge of the cliff.
Different cultures, beliefs and ideals create richness in the world. We can only discover the true beauty of others when we open your hearts and minds—and become a student of humanity, observing new constructions of reality, a different angle of view, and an expanding understanding of this beautiful life.
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