Archives for posts with tag: differences

Can we agree to disagree? That is the question posed by Gracie Bond Staples in the Atlanta Journal Constitution last week. Quoting Wes Parham, and organizational analyst, she suggested that the “hater mindset… (is) taking hold of the country, creating virtual echo chambers that confirm our biases rather than challenge them.” This way of thinking prefers “to dismiss any views that are contrary to their own.”

Gracie Bonds Staples, KIRO 7

Staples said, and I agree, that “simply having an opposing view is not the issue. The issue is when we view people with opposite views as the enemy.” Parham goes on to say when we disagree the tendency is to think “you are not like us, and because you’re not like us, I don’t have to treat you with civility and respect.”

Staples writes from the perspective of a practicing Christian. I do not know about Parham’s religious beliefs but both exhibit a kindred spirit with John Wesley, the social and religious reformer of the 18th century. In his sermon on “A Catholic Spirit” (1755), the Anglican priest and father of the Methodist Movement asserted that “love is due to all mankind.” In his Christian understanding that means that we are supposed to love all people because Jesus instructed his followers not only to love those who thought and acted like you but to “love your enemies, bless those cursing you, do good to those hating you, and pray for those accusing you falsely, and persecuting you” (Matthew 5:43).

Wesley goes further to say, “Although every man necessarily believes that every particular opinion which he holds is true (for to believe any opinion is not true, is the same thing as not to hold it), yet can no man be assured that all his own opinions, taken together, are true. To be ignorant of many things, and to mistake in some, is the necessary condition of humanity.”

Wesley continues, “Every wise man, therefore, will allow others the same liberty of thinking that he desires they should allow him, and will no more insist on their embracing his opinions than he would have them to insist on his embracing theirs. He is patient with those who differ from him, and only asks him:  ‘Is your heart right, as my heart is with your heart?’ If it be, give me your hand.”

This does not necessarily mean that either person would change their opinion. Wesley explains, “Keep your opinion and I will keep mine, and that as steadily as ever. You need not even endeavor to come over to me, or bring me over to you. I do not desire you to dispute those points, or to hear or speak one word concerning them. Leave all opinions alone on one side and the other: only give me your hand.”

Believing that love is more powerful than anything else, let us seek to maintain a spirit of civility and a respect for all human beings regardless of our differing opinions. God help us!

Jamie Jenkins

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I have become increasingly concerned over the “Us vs. Them” attitude that I see and hear regularly. Too many groups and individuals operate on the basis that anything different is bad. “We” must oppose “them.”  More than that, we see “them” as the enemies of “us” that must be stopped or destroyed.

I understand that there are people who espouse harmful philosophies and I know that all ideas are not for the benefit of the larger community. However, I find it impossible to believe that “we” are always right and “they” are always wrong. Whoever the “we” or “they” are.

There are many people who subscribe to the “Us vs. Them” approach to all matters. I am not one of them.

Some folks see anyone whose culture or language as different and probably dangerous. I am not one of them.

Many people believe that everybody is out for themselves. Wanting something for nothing. I am not one of them

Many politicians and John/Jane Does propose that Red/Blue States have the right perspective on all political issues and the other will lead the country to ruin. I am not one of them.

The attitude of a lot of people is that if your skin color is different from mine, I have to keep an eye on you. I am not one of them.

According to conversations I hear and read from individuals in leadership as well as common ordinary citizens, it seems that it is alright to use demeaning terminology and derogatory words to describe others. I am not one of them.

It is common for people to assert that anyone who holds a different position on religion, politics, social issues or virtually anything is your enemy. I am not one of them.

Us vs. Them

Sports fans often depict fans of an opposing team as bad people to be avoided. I am not one of them.

Someone always wins and someone always loses. That is the attitude that I sense in many people. I am not one of them.

Old Way and New Way signs, Life change conceptual image

I know people who always see change as bad. It is better to keep things the way they are. I am not one of them.

There are Christians who believe that they alone interpret the Scriptures correctly and know the mind of God  I am not one of them

Jeff Chandler, writing about working relationships says, “On the surface, we discuss compassion, empathy, and understanding but down at a personal level, there are grudges, alliances, and interactions that are the complete opposite. There is a growing contingency of US vs THEM which doesn’t seem like a good way (to work together).”

“Unless we are very, very careful,” wrote psychologist-turned-artist Anne Truitt, “we doom each other by holding onto images of one another based on preconceptions that are in turn based on indifference to what is other than ourselves.”

Loving and gracious God, help us to see our fellow human beings as brothers and sisters and treat everyone with respect. Enable us to understand that “we” might be wrong and “they” might be right on some things. Help us to work side by side with each other to  “guard each one’s dignity and save each one’s pride.” So that others “may know we are Christians by our love.”

Jamie Jenkins