A Jewish Matchmaker discusses differing perspectives and the relativity of truth
Wow. What a year it’s been. No matter where you are in the world and no matter your thoughts on the pandemic and the restrictions, one thing seems certain, everyone has been affected in some way. Possibly for the first time in history, we are globally “in the same boat”. And this boat is irrespective of status, income, race, gender, etc…Yet sadly, it seems that there is even more dissent and separation in the world. Some of it is mandated; yet much of it is opinionated. At the very time we should be coming together, the situation is pushing so many apart. Do we need another round of diversity training? The solution is not tolerance for differing perspectives; the solution is acceptance.
So how do we become more accepting of others and our diverse perspectives? In this blog, I will share my humble bit of advice and hope that it might resonate with even one other person in this world to possibly heal and reconnect a relationship or two.
First of all, how did we get so divided? Doesn’t it seem as though life was simpler back “in the day” and people were more unified? Well yes, it likely was. But back in the day, we didn’t travel as far from home. We didn’t have ready access to what was happening globally, regionally, and in many cases, even locally. We certainly didn’t have real-time news updates. Life was simpler. And in terms of information, most of the people in your community had access to the same information and primarily shared the same opinion on a topic. Of course there were differences of opinion, but from birth to death one mostly was in the same community/town and the majority of concerns were about what was going on in that community; it was less likely that one would be concerned or informed about what was happening elsewhere. Hence, perspectives on a topic were fairly uniform.
That is certainly not the case today. Our 24/7 deluge of information from all over the world provides us with plenty of topics for discussion. And each topic has a range of opinions attached to it. In addition, we are less likely to remain in the same area that we were born and/or raised so communities have become more diverse and less emotionally and familially connected. It’s more a hodgepodge of residents with differing life experiences who see life from differing perspectives. Those diverse perspectives create differing opinions. But why do differing opinions create strong reactions in us?
I think one of the primary reasons for this is that most of us seem to seek outside validation for our perspectives. It’s as though we need someone else to agree with us so that we feel that our opinion is “right”, which makes us “right”. Our ego then feels justified in its perspective and begins diminishing other perspectives as being “wrong”. Talk about the road to righteous indignation! This is how we get there, folks. And righteous indignation is an ugly beast. A divisive beast. A narcissistic beast.
If you are someone who can hear differing perspectives on controversial topics – even from loved ones and those with whom you are in close relationships – and not get upset, indignant, or argumentative and instead, can listen, hear, try to understand and accept, my hat is off to you. This indicates an emotionally healthy mindset. You are likely not someone who needs outside validation; you validate your own perspective and are able to hear perspectives of others without feeling threatened.
For those of us who are not quite to that point of easy acceptance, these few steps might help us get there.
- Acknowledge that everyone has a right to his/her own opinion. Embody that through your responses. It is not your job to educate the planet or convince others of your personal truth. Each of us has a personal truth based on our life experience and information we’ve absorbed. Do not invalidate or discount the life experience of others with your heated opinion. A better response is to get curious. Make it your goal to understand how/why the other person arrived at their conclusions. Ask questions rather than make statements.
- Accept that you are not the end-all, be-all, final authority on any topic. No matter how much you’ve studied something, there is no possible way that you know everything about it. As a matter of fact, on most issues, you likely know a very small amount compared with an expert. Even if it’s your field of study, there is no way that you have absorbed every bit of information available on the subject. Listen to others with the focus on learning something new instead of defending your expertise.
- Accept the inevitable variety in the world. Let’s be real, no one expects that the entire population of the planet will agree on every issue, right? That’s ridiculous. Nor do we think that all our friends and family will agree on every issue. Life would be boring if everyone was an identical copy of the other. Variety is the spice of life, and with billions of people on this planet, variety is inevitable. We’d be foolish to deny this. Embrace variety and know that your life is more interesting because of it.
- Open your mind. Getting someone else to agree with your opinion does not make you “right” or make your opinion “true”. And if you are so convinced that your opinion is correct, why do you care if someone agrees or doesn’t agree with it? Let’s face it, there is a great deal of reassurance in being around people who share your perspective – makes it easier to relate, right? It also stifles growth and creates division. When you are stuck in your own perspective, it closes you off to new information – information that might actually change your perspective! Are you opposed to change? Are you opposed to learning something new? Don’t get so hung up on having your opinion validated that you close yourself off to a new way of looking at things.
Accepting the variety of perspectives and opinions in the world, without defense and without judgment will lead you to personal growth and a healthier physical, mental and emotional state.
HAPPY 2021, MY DEAR READERS!!! CONTINUED GOOD HEALTH AND MUCH HAPPINESS TO YOU AND YOUR LOVED ONE!
For additional info on how to be more tolerant of differing opinions, go here:
To read last month’s post on commitment phobia, go here: