This quotation reminds me to not accept or construct false binaries; not everything in this world is either black or white. It also reminds me not to not jump to conclusions--especially when it's about the character of another person--and not to hate that which I've barely taken the time to know. It reminds me that these beliefs which say 'I am right and you are wrong,' or the beliefs which discourage real dialogue (even when under the guise of conversation) are painful not only in the sense that they destroy positive relationships that might have otherwise flourished, but they also imprison us. We become chained to our dogmas, to our safe interpretations of our world. It is sometimes the same walls which surround us and makes us feel protected that close out the world around us. What a pity.
"I am not an idealist, nor a cynic, but merely unafraid of contradictions. I have seen men face each other when both were right, yet each was determined to kill the other, which was wrong. What each man saw was an image of the other, made by someone else. That is what we are prisoners of."
- Donald Hogan (1972)
I wonder what we all see when we look at the people in our lives. When we see them in a positive/negative light..what is it that has encouraged/allowed us to paint them in that way?
Below are some thoughts/questions I have, which I originally wrote out for a different purpose, but they seem applicable to this conversation.
1) What convictions do you hold? Especially, which convictions do you hold to when it comes to the nature of God, reality, truth, love, etc.? Because we all hold to something. Throughout different periods of my life I have considered myself to be a Christian, an atheist, and a bewildered agnostic (to name a few!), and in each of these identities I held strong convictions. What are the convictions that you hold to?
2) How do these convictions affect those whom you love? (Or, since many religious scriptures call us to be loving to strangers and even enemies, let us go one step farther: how do your convictions affect others in your community more broadly speaking?) Is there any degree or form of hurt that results?
And, importantly, is their hurt worth more or less than you maintaining your conviction? This can sometimes be an extremely difficult question; and, like all difficult questions, I do not think there is always an easy answer.
3) In what light do your convictions paint those who think or act differently than you? Try to think of some specific people—perhaps you could choose a spectrum of “different worldviews.” How do you view these people? Are they ‘lost,’ ‘blind,’ ‘deluded,’ ‘deceived,’ ‘ignorant,’ ‘hell-bound,’ ‘naïve,’ ‘plain stupid?’ How does your worldview paint you? Are you among the spiritually elect, the elite, or the enlightened? Has God ‘chosen you?’ and what might this say in terms of the love of God.
4) What would others think of your idea of them? (And how do you think they perceive you?)