Ripples #1213: Other People Exist!


All of human development can be summed up as the process of learning we are not the sole protagonist in the story: other people exist.
-Nicole Roccas​,
shared by Jennifer in Philadelphia, PA via Facebook


If I do not want what you want, please try not to tell me that my want is wrong. Or if I believe other than you, at least pause before you correct my view. Or if my emotion is less than yours, or more, given the same circumstances, try not to ask me to feel more strongly or weakly. Or yet if I act, or fail to act, in the manner of your design for action, let me be. I do not for the moment at least, ask you to understand me. That will come only when you are willing to give up changing me into a copy of you.
-David Keirsey & Marilyn Bates
shared by Sheryl in Milwaukee, WI (who found and liked this passage while reading the preface to Please Understand Me)


Our world is currently grappling with multiple big problems that have emerged over multiple decades and are the results of multiple happenings and challenges, none of which are going away any time soon.

One of the things making things worse, and keeping us from inching towards more productive solutions, is our inherent tendency to identify quite strongly with OUR perspective, OUR particular way of looking at the world. We tend to experience our perspective as the ONLY way, or at least the VERY BEST way of looking at things.

When it comes to assessing the value of the perspectives that other people hold…well, on our better days we tend to view them skeptically, and on our worse days we often approach them with scorn and/or derision. Add in the heaps of fear and frustration that many people have stored up over the last few years (decades? centuries?), well, we’re drifting farther and farther apart even though our best chance to identify and implement worthy solutions to these complex issues requires us to come together, work together, and eventually find a way to live together.

I don’t think that means that we need to treat all perspectives as equally useful for our society. Some perspectives are more prosocial and adaptive to community living, and some are definitely antisocial and maladaptive. But I think it is also is also true that there are some reasonable people who are more open to living and working in diverse and dynamic environments, while other reasonable people are more comfortable with homeostasis and homogeneity. Even within the relatively moderate “middle ground” where most people hang out, there are significant differences in how people view complex issues like climate change, equality, the role government should play in society, etc.

I think it is unhelpful, and often inaccurate, to oversimplify these complex issues by suggesting that someone is “either with us or against us,” or to cling to similarly dualistic (and often dangerous) mindsets that suggest anyone who is a “good person” must agree with me on this issue while anyone who doesn’t 100% agree with me must be a “bad person.”

What if we experimented this week: investing just a little of our time and energy with the intention of trying a little harder to recognize the humanity in people that we currently find easier to loathe or ignore? I’m not saying you have to agree with them, or like them even….just see them as human beings that likely have hearts that are, like ours, “loosely tied bundles of quiet hopes, insecurities, and good intentions” (credit to Maya Dehlin for this line of poetry that enlarges my heart every single time I hear it).

P.S. You may not be in a place where this resonates with you right now. And of course: that’s okay! There are some moments where I’m especially tired or frustrated or hurt and I don’t *feel* like seeing the good in certain people or groups. If that is true for you today, maybe just take a few HERE NOW breaths and focus on some people you are glad exist in the world. 💙

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