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January 4, 2013 / Dale Melchin

Honoring the Humanity of the Other despite…

If we are going to be successful human beings and come into true self actualization, there needs to come a point in our lives when we learn to honor each other despite either actual faults or perceived faults.  Let me explain through a personal story.

At one point I attended Liberty University.  Despite its faults, I still honor the place that institution had in my life.  it helped me get a taste of living outside of the Midwest.  While I was there I developed a very narrow world view.  I was a Calvinist.  Now some of you may know what that means others of you don’t, I’ve provided a link to define it.  I began to develop other beliefs using that belief as a framework for the rest.  As a result I began to hate other worldviews, even ones that were Christian because they didn’t line up with what I perceived to be “right.”

In that day I felt there was only two choices, theological absolutism where I was right and everyone else was wrong, or theological relativism, where you could believe what you wanted so long as you could make an argument for it from the Bible.  There was no in between for me.  Upon later reflection and study I realize that while truth is absolute, how we perceive truth is something completely different.  My black and white perception of things inhibited my ability to cut others slack in their understanding.  My black and white understanding also caused me existential crises every time I encountered a new worldview.

That has all changed.  I’ve grown emotionally.  I understand know that there are currently 7 major world religions each with their own “specializations” and hundreds of philosophical systems out their, and numerous political stances.  I’m in a very good place, because I have learned to honor the humanity in the other person despite whatever intellectual disagreements I may have with them over x,y,or z.  I can generally appreciate differences in worldview and understand and can depersonalize when discussing those issues.

For those of you who know me personally, I realize that I fall down in this area from time to time.  I generally slip up if I feel I am attacked personally or I don’t feel the other person isn’t give me a fair hearing.

My point in telling this story is that too often we waste so much time and energy judging a persons worldview and not honoring them by listening to them and giving them a fair hearing.

One thing I will be dogmatic about.  We need to learn to cultivate respect for others despite our differences, regardless of what they are.  Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, Liberal, Conservative, whatever.  We must be able at the end of the discussion look past what was said and realize that there is another human being generating those beliefs and honor their humanity.

If we can learn to do that, our relationships will be richer, we’ll accomplish and collaborate together on things that matter, rather than tear each other down.  We can still be true to ourselves and our beliefs and still embrace each other as brothers and sisters in humanity.

I will end this post with a story.

There is the story two Irish men who were neighbors.  One of them shot a duck that was flying over head and it landed in the neighbors yard.  The neighbor decided to claim the bird, even though man with the rifle shot it.  They decided instead of listening to solve the problem through kicking contest.  The neighbor who didn’t shoot the bird won and claimed the duck as his prize.   He feathered the bird and then disposed of the corpse.

The neighbor who shot the bird asked.  “What the hell did ya do that for?  I wanted to cook that for my family!”

“What would you want to do that for?  I needed the feathers for me pillow that I was makin’!”

This is an example of a win lose situation.  I know it seems a bit simplistic.  Had the men overcome their differences and talked about why they each wanted the bird, they could’ve come to an agreement about the bird and each would’ve been happy.  It could’ve easily been a win win.

That is my point.  Regardless of the issue, there is always a way to find an accord between belief systems and come to a win/win.  It simply takes honoring the humanity of the other person.

What would taking a more humanity honoring approach make possible for you?

 

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3 Comments

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  1. Susanna / Jan 7 2013 6:11 am

    Nice blog. I wish everyone feels as you do. Why do you think it’s so hard for people to accept differences?

    • Dale Melchin / Jan 7 2013 8:25 am

      Susanna, thanks for your comment. I’m not sure. The Ancients say it is because of aversion and attachment, and because of our lack of inner attention.

      In our imperfect state we are averse to anything different and attached to our “own” understanding of things, even if it was conditioned upon us. Ultimately, this way of thinking causes us as individuals pain, but I’m not sure why we continue to engage in that behavior. Probably for the rest of humanity, it is because inner work takes too much effort. What do you think?

      • Susanna / Jan 7 2013 9:26 am

        I agree with you. I think it’s easier to not examine your beliefs because otherwise you might find you’ve been wrong. That’s difficult and painful for people sometimes if they have to feel right to feel OK, loved, adequate etc. I think it’s feels good to feel better about themselves for belonging to a group. I read this is true for sports fans – it they associate with a winning team, they feel like winners.

        It’s very complicated but I guess it’s really up to the individuals to try to be more open-minded, regardless of the reason.

        Though I do believe there’s still racism, I think it’s improving with each generation so there’s hope for us!

        Thanks for the thoughtful response.

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