My heart is hurting and this column has weighed on my mind for quite some time, so perhaps it’s time to give it life.
Some of you may be looking for my stance on gun control, as the lead sentence may have given you false hope. The truth is I do have a position, as it were, on gun control and responsible gun ownership. I’m not using this space for that soap box. In honesty, I don’t hold a soap box in that area. Shocked? I’m not surprised.
As a country we are living through an interesting time.
As I type that sentence, my mind can’t help but think of my grandmother growing up in the early 1900’s. I’m more than certain during that time, the same sentence was said and rightfully so. The difference however between then and now first and foremost is accessibility. Living in the “instant” age is proving to be one which makes my mind ponder.
Living in the age of “instant” with vast knowledge (or so we think) at our fingertips is both empowering as well as dangerous. In short, everyone now seems to be an expert in any given area.
Have the flu? Not to worry, Google can help you cure that ailment. Need facts to support your stance on any given argument? Once again, not to worry, the World Wide Web certainly has the answer and appropriate facts to support your opinion.
The sadness I feel comes from the deep line which seems to be drawn in the sand, as we humans continue to debate points right versus left. The shift of reacting via any given topic versus responding seems at an all-time high as of late.
My guy and I have had this talk on multiple occasions the past several months as we are true opposites in many ways – or so the world thinks. Shortly after becoming a “couple” he was enlightened by a “friend” that I might in fact be a “liberal.” Insert gasp, shock and awe here, as for some it became an issue, for the two of us not so much.
There’s something the two of us do, which makes the fact of ‘is this truth versus fiction’ of little concern to either of us – we listen. As we discussed varying points of our beliefs, what matters to us most and why we feel strongly on some things versus others, he quickly recognized our similarities.
Following that initial conversation, it reminded me of a video clip I had watched a few years back. A study of strangers, entering a room and knowing nothing about one another. Each posed with questions and encouraged to elaborate on their opinions in conversation. The participants varied in age, political and socioeconomic background. Actually intentionally paired with opposites, they just didn’t know.
At the conclusion of the study, they were enlightened as they revealed their “true” selves to one another. Two I recall vividly, were participants who opposed gays and women in the military. Following 30 minutes of conversation with one another, enlightenment happened. There was no sales pitch in this exercise. No one was arguing one stance versus another; they simply spoke and listened to one another.
One participant even went as far as to say, “He’s just like me,” and he was. That’s where the lessons lie for me in this life and most especially in this time where everyone thinks they know better or who you are because of a societal label.
Yeah, try again.
As for this girl, I’m convinced that until we drop the labels, enter a room willingly and look one another in the face – human to human, it won’t get better. The facts of my past don’t make the person of my present. Life, love, living to our fullest is what shapes who we become. Until we wrap our minds around this, release the labels and dismiss the fables, the cycle of disconnect will continue.
That’s my challenge to each of you taking the time to read these thoughts. The next time you come into the company of someone society has told you is different than you, release the label, face your fellow human and listen, truly listen to what they have to share.
What you may learn, just as we did, is that we’re all not as different as the media/society would lead us to believe.
Teresa Hammond is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 847-3021.