Recently I have been reminded that maybe folks are not as tolerant as we assume. Whether the issue be religious, political, relationship wise, or any other form of human interaction, we seem to all have a huge amount of bias. You can hear a person say they are open-minded, then watch as they try to convince two people that the choice they are making for the direction of their relationship is wrong, simply because they do not understand, or do not want to understand. You can watch as a Christian says, “I love people.” and then badmouths a belief system or lifestyle they disagree with outside of church. You can always find a conservative arguing with a liberal.
Is this right? I would say not. After recently choosing with my wife to follow a lifestyle we both liked and wanted for our marriage, we received many comments, concerns, and rude thoughts, feelings, and opinions from both family and those we called friends. In many of these cases, people absolutely refused to research or allow us to practice our lifestyle and see if it was all they thought it would be, or if maybe it was not. We tried our chosen lifestyle but were pressured into giving it up because many in both of our families did not understand our choices or lifestyle. Let me take a moment to expound on that, we both enjoyed and felt our chosen relationship style, for lack of a better term, both benefited us as individuals, and benefited us as a couple. It made our relationship stronger, our communication skills more effective, and our trust quite a lot stronger. However due to other people’s opinions, some going as far as saying they did not want us around their children because our relationship style would corrupt their children.
I know by now some of you are wondering what our choice was, but for the purpose of this article it is not important, and would just serve to further muddy the waters of what this article is truly about.
Too often we allow personal religious choices, relationship choices, political standings, or other issues seperate us and isolate us from others. We allow differences in opinion to jade us to the uniqueness that is the human experience. All philosophies, be they religious, political, or lifestyle has something to teach us, good or bad, even doing a in-depth study of Aryan Nazi thought will teach us some lesson, maybe just the lesson that prejudice is foolish. If you never extend your comfort zone and attempt to understand and learn from others, and are stuck in your current mindset, you shall never learn or experience all that life is about.
Many of us remember the old bumper sticker, CO-EXIST with the logos of various religious persuasions. While in some ways I disagree with that, as it implies that all thought processes are equal when each of us thinks our own is better, I think along those lines that we should create a new personal philosophy. Cohabitation. To explain, I believe we should approach those ideas that are odd to us or different with an attitude that states, “I may disagree with you, and I may find your beliefs odd, but I shall respect you as a human and am willing to listen and not judge you, so that we can share the planet we find ourselves placed upon in harmony and peace.” How many arguments, hurt feelings, and ruined relationships would this attitude avoid?