If it hasn’t happened recently, I’m sure you have a memory of it, “Okay everybody count off by 1 and 2 and break into 2 groups. 1’s over here and 2’s over here.”
“1”.”2″.”1″.”2″….(kids counting off (or adults))
And everybody splits into two teams. two sides. Suddenly from ‘We’, there is now ‘Us’ and ‘Them’. They become the competition, they become the enemy, they are different, because they are not Us.
Whether you’re divided by the white lines of a touch ball court, the gray lines of the vaccine debate, or the red lines of pro life or pro choice, the reaction always seems to be the same. ‘They’ are out to get us! They stand for everything we stand against. They must be stopped, they must be corrected, they must be educated or put down.
The touch ball game ends when the bell rings and recess is over. But dividing into categories never does. It is human nature to seek differences. We train our minds at it, we revel in it, our brains are good at it.
It’s a game we play as children, “Can you spot the difference in these two pictures?” And our brains revel in it, it’s what they were made for.
But there is such a thing as “Too much of a good thing”.
We tend to subdivide, to accidentally insult, we assume those around us are the same and deride those that are different. When we are lucky our friend points out that they feel differently, when we are not we have begun to distance ourselves from our friend.
It’s not that we have to be guarded in everything we say. But we need to be compassionate. If you find yourself starting to make a statement such as “I can’t believe that he would…” or “I heard that she believes…”, stop and consider your impetus. What are your goals in saying it? Are you really concerned with that the other person believes? Or hoping to find an ally that will back you up in what you believe? Is the other person really completely wrong? Or are you just hoping to find someone else that will reinforce what you believe as right?
It has happened time and time again in my life, I will make a statement to a friend like “Did you know Andy thinks <this> is true?” And the friend that I am talking to will have more information than I do, and explain why Andy came to that conclusion and in some cases what lead him down that path. And I am blessed for it, because my world opens up. I see things with a new prospective and realize that my way of thinking, the way I learned things, is not the only way to look at it.
And when I’m having my more enlightened moments, I can change the question. It’s no longer gossip, it’s now inquiry. “Do you know why Andy thinks <this> is true? I’ve not heard of that before.”
I came across this potent quote in the last week. “Reality is that, that when which you stop believing it in, refuses to go away.” -Philip K. Dick (Renowned science fiction author)
If you stop and consider all the things you believe in, a great deal of them will go away if you stop believing in them. Even better when you stop holding up a false belief, the reality of a situation, or experience, can present itself instead of the false representation that you’ve made up.
The human mind is excellent at spotting differences. But this is a very base function. We are capable and encouraged by our higher minds to spot the difference and learn from it, as opposed to dividing into teams as a result of it. We are always encouraged to “Be not quick to anger.” I would also encourage you to “Be not quick to split up into small groups.”
With that in mind, everybody count off by 1, and then break into one large group. There is only Us.