Seeing life from both sides
Contributed by guest blogger, Patti Faulkner
It's easy to get caught up in issues and pulled into the political fray. When others don't share our views, it’s tempting to try to persuade them to “see the light.”
As a Canadian, I've been watching with interest, sometimes amusement, and even bewilderment, the U.S. presidential campaign. Though it impacts me less than Americans, I'm still concerned about the outcome, so I know how I would vote. And, it came as a surprise to learn recently that friends for whom I have a great deal of respect and with whom I share many values, will be voting for an opponent. I said nothing, but secretly wondered how they could do that. Seriously, had they not been reading the same stories I was? It turns out, maybe not.
I recently read an article that illustrated that often we don't read news stories that challenge our
viewpoints, but rather ones that bolster them. And I've realized with dismay that sometimes
when I'm listening to someone with an opposing view, rather than really listening and trying to
understand them, I’m formulating arguments in my mind about why they're wrong. Is this the
right way to treat others? Jesus’ guidance on this is pretty clear: “as ye would that men should
do to you, do ye also to them likewise.” (Luke 6:31).
Mary Baker Eddy, who founded Christian Science, included a favorite article “Taking Offense” in her collection of articles in Miscellaneous Writings. It offers this advice: “We should
remember that the world is wide; that there are a thousand million different human wills,
opinions, ambitions, tastes, and loves; that each person has a different history, constitution,
culture, character, from all the rest; … Then, we should go forth into life with the smallest
expectations, but with the largest patience; with a keen relish for and appreciation of everything
beautiful, great, and good, but with a temper so genial that the friction of the world shall not
wear upon our sensibilities; with an equanimity so settled that no passing breath nor accidental
disturbance shall agitate or ruffle it” (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 224).
When Justice Antonin Scalia passed on earlier this year, I was touched by sentiments shared in
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s tribute: “We disagreed now and then, but when I wrote for the
Court and received a Scalia dissent, the opinion ultimately released was notably better than my
initial circulation. Justice Scalia nailed all the weak spots—the 'applesauce' and 'argle
bargle'—and gave me just what I needed to strengthen the majority opinion.” From her tribute, it was evident that they frequently disagreed, and yet, they remained close friends, obviously sharing a mutual respect.
Justice Scalia was quoted as saying, “If you can't disagree ardently with your colleagues about some issues of law and yet personally still be friends, get another job, for Pete’s sake.” (The Christian Science Monitor, February 14, 2016).
As this election campaign heats up, I’m trying to remember that there are many different viewpoints, and to appreciate those who hold them. A recent post on Facebook pictured two people looking at a number from two different angles. One said, “Six,” the other, “Nine.” It was
captioned, “Just because you are right does not mean I am wrong. You just haven't seen life
from my side.”
My friends voting for “the opponent?” As far as I know, they still are. That's not my concern, they're still my friends. Here’s to seeing life from both sides!
Patti Faulkner is a spiritual thinker, Bible student, and borderline crazy cat lady, who lives just north of the border. She's hoping that regardless of the election outcome Canada-U.S. relations remain friendly.
Inspiration is all around us. It makes us feel like we've climbed a majestic mountaintop. Enjoy the view!