Judging another person begins the milli-second our interaction with him begins. We have moved away from being friendly with a person even if his beliefs don't perfectly mirror our own. I feel it around me. Instead of being kind and considerate to anyone and everyone, it has become, "She seems nice, but then I saw the bumper stickers she has on her car" or "I can't believe someone who has kids my age disagrees with me on gun control. What is he thinking?!"
This morning on facebook, I came across this picture on Humans of New York. (By the way, it's a great page. Brandon doesn't just take pictures, he interacts with the subject and usually captions his photos with a question and response exchanged between himself and the subject of the photo. You should definitely check it out.)
The caption on this particular photo is as follows:
"It was a much easier decision to join the order when I was growing up. Everyone supported the church and supported your decision. It's a much tougher choice to make today." — at Boston, MA.
I saw this picture and thought, "Wow, what a beautiful shot. The framing, the subject matter, the focus, it's all perfect." I was, however, saddened by the comments. Most of them focused on the caption. People began to go back and forth over why a person would or would not "join the order".
"There is no God." "Why join a church that hides pedophiles?" "The Vatican could solve world hunger with all of the money it has." And so on.
I've struggled with these points in the past and continue to do so. What this stream of comments got me to thinking, though, was that these commenters brought so much of their own baggage and need for perfection to this picture, that they couldn't enjoy the pure beauty of it. They couldn't even see it for all the imperfections covering their eyes. Beyond not being able to appreciate the beauty of the picture, the comments were also belittling this particular man's life choices. They seemed to be saying that if it was a choice that wasn't right for them, it wasn't right for anyone and further, that anyone who would make that choice was sub-human or at the very least, an idiot. I would hazard a guess that these same individuals would also come down hard on anyone else doing the same to them.
These thoughts led me to thoughts about the gun control measure that was defeated earlier this week in the Senate. The argument that "this measure won't stop all criminals from getting guns", regardless of my beliefs on the subject, seem to me to be another case of needing perfection. An argument for all or nothing. If this one law wouldn't stop all illegal behavior, it's useless.
I think this need for everything, be it person or idea, to conform perfectly to one's own personality or beliefs is the leading cause of divisiveness in the world. People seem to believe that any type of compromise means they are compromising all of their principles, therefore any small amount of compromise is bad. This, of course, leads to a stalemate. NOTHING can be done. NOTHING is accomplished. NOTHING that could bring people closer together will happen. People seem to be happy in their division and if the "other" really wanted things better, he would just come over to the "right" side.
So how do we improve on this? It's so easy to tell someone else what they need to do to make the world better. Clearly it's all them, I've done my part. I have figured out what the perfect world would be and for it to be in place, the rest of you need to come around to my way of thinking. Why should I compromise for the greater good if "they" won't?
Now that that is out of the way, what do we need to do as individuals and as a society to work away from this division? You can't wait for everyone else to do it because they are waiting for you.
So, what are you going to do?