Saturday, April 14, 2018

Shutting Down and Shutting Out. Freeing Bias

While talking to a woman I had just met we discovered that we were raised the same religion, the second child of six children, educated in like schools and had enjoyed living in Florida for many years. The similarities were overwhelming. Then she asked where I was brought up. "Oh-you're an Oompa loompa", she stated as she slammed the door on our kinship. "I'm a Wangdoodle." she declared. Our connection faltered, stumbled and did not regain its balance. 

I decline to define myself by the labels that were assigned to me by society or my life experience. Certainly, aspects of my upbringing and years on the planet add to my character but they are not what constitutes the sum total of me. I have learned through my work that you can't always judge a book by it's cover. 

Her reaction left me wondering what attracts us to our differences rather than our similarities? Why do we  focus on where we clash rather than where we converge? I questioned if we have an inherent need to feel separate, better, higher, smarter, quicker, richer and ultimately superior.  

I've always admired people with the ability to have meaningful friendships while holding diametrically opposed views on key issues. These folks manage to move around their differences and dance in their similarities. They have suspended their judgment and have fostered a connection that builds unique friendships.

What would happen if we sought out the places where our opinions and beliefs intersected rather than opposed one another? Wouldn't that be an interesting starting point next time there is a conflict. What if we began to ask questions such as, "What does being an Oompa Loompa mean to you?"  rather than shutting the door to connection, friendship, communion, understanding and healing. Let's work together to instigate dialogue that encourages curiosity, listening and community but first we must take a deep breath and push our bias aside.

Love and Light,