8.20.2012

Let's go do that together


There's a difference between knowing something and knowing someone.  You may know and believe and understand a particular subject or matter, but it is another thing altogether when there is a someone connected to that thing.  It's incredibly easy to make up your mind one way or the other about an issue when you don't personally know anyone connected to it.  But a relationship is far more complex.

I've realized the further you are from people, the easier it is to keep things black and white.  The moment a human relationship enters the picture, all the lines grey.  The more removed you are from a subject, the more likely that the conclusion you've come to about it/them, may not be quite right.

Knowing people has always been really important to me.  It's how my family has always operated.  My parent's taught me to think about issues as they related to real people.  And for that I am forever grateful.  But I think it is only with age that I have truly begun to understand the value of this way of thinking  Any conclusions I may have made about belief or politics or lifestyle have been completely shattered the moment I met that belief/opinion face-to-face.  It is a deeply transformative and humbling experience.  And I think it is a far richer, more authentic way of living.

The flipside to all this is, once you become aware of the need to know someone in order to know something, you start realizing how much of what you see and read and hear is surmised millions of miles away from a true relationship.  The danger of this is how quickly it can lead to judgment and critique.  Sadly, we are a judgmental people and it takes diligence and intentionality to move with grace instead.  

I guess the solution then is to broaden our circles of relationships.  Our tendency is to surround ourselves with likeminded people.  Which is good - it's exhausting to be the only one.  A friend of mine just returned from a trip to an area of the US that has a very concentrated population of thinkers - good thinkers, mind you, but very much the same.  She remarked how good and lovely it was but how anxious she was to get back to the city, back to a diverse community of thought and lifestyle.  I thought that was incredibly wise.

The hard part comes in being open to a change in what you may have always thought to be right.  Maybe even the opposite of what you thought before.  Or maybe you had it right all along.  I'm not so sure we'll really know until much later.  And later, it probably won't matter.  It may not even all matter now.  So be careful how much weight you shoulder behind those opinions.  And if you're not sure, my instinct is to just listen.  I'd rather listen and learn something, than speak and miss out on something truly magical.

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