Minds and Hearts

I had to chuckle at myself because I recognized my ways after conversing with a fellow member in my church Sunday morning. We discussed how my neighbor wanted me to sign a petition to reduce the speed limit on our street. I refuse to sign it because I would be among the first offenders to get a ticket. I’ve been on that street for a very long time, and getting used to a reduction in speed would take me some getting used to, and it made me a little ticked off that he wanted the entire neighborhood to change the momentum when they knew what they speed limit was when they moved there. I know it’s a petty point, but it made me think about so many other issues that we are all dealing with right now and the mentality that many, like myself, have to address.

We have so many issues where society is demanding change. Change can be highly challenging, especially when you are accustomed to one way of thinking. Southerners get ticked at northerners when they come south and drive what the south considers aggressive. Northerners get ill at the southerners for being too slow. Plus, the mentality is different with various ages, groups, cultures, and demographics. I’ve seen many of my caucasian friends struggle to understand what my African American friends deal with daily. It’s challenging to put yourself in someone else’s shoes if you aren’t willing to open yourself up to different ideas and situations.

Putting myself in my neighbor’s shoes isn’t easy because I never had children that survived for me to raise. My kids died before they were born, so it is difficult to think like a parent when that privilege gets stripped from you. It’s not a world that I deal with much because most of my friends are childless, and even though that wasn’t a choice any of us chose, our bodies wouldn’t allow that incredible gift to occur. So yes, it does make it difficult to think like a parent whose kids live in the neighborhood when you lose that opportunity. People tell me all the time you can foster or adopt, which is true, but there is so much red tape to go through, and it is heartwrenching when those foster kids and adoptions don’t occur. Money has become the almighty way to make everything happen. Unfortunately, a lot of great kids can’t be placed in suitable homes because of various reasons. While I understand that the system tries to make sure the kids get placed in good homes, I’ve seen too many times that the system fails. It is little wonder why so many people have bad tastes in their mouths when the government runs interference with so many people.

I have a very close friend who lives with disabilities. His life is full of assumptions. People assume what he can and can’t do by making decisions for him. They don’t recognize his worth, and when they do, they tell him to his face how he’s an inspiration, but then do not give him respect when he’s doing his job. Society decides for him what they want to group him in because he doesn’t fit the norm. He is the first to tell people he can handle anything. He might have to do things a little differently than everyone else, but the fact remains he’s capable of doing anything he sets his mind to doing.

Why am I bringing up these scenarios? I’m not looking to bash or glorify anything or anyone. What I am doing is saying that we all have reasons why we feel the way we do. When we have to dig in our heels and be unwilling to listen to each other, we make up our minds with emotions more than we do facts. That’s dangerous. If this world is going to change for the better, we all need to be engaging in difficult conversations. Hurling accusations and being unwilling to work with each other is only going to intensify divisions. I’m still reluctant to sign my neighbor’s petition, but if he manages to get the speed limit reduced, I’m willing to follow the new law.

My point is simple. Many issues in this world need addressing, but anger and hostility only lead to more anger and hatred. If we are serious about reform and change, we have to start with listening to other sides. Assuming that we know what’s best usually ends in angering other groups. When we start to listen to other sides, we learn that solutions to perplexing issues can be addressed. If you know people who are doing things differently than you are, it doesn’t mean that their way or your way is wrong. It’s different, and that’s not always a bad thing. Before you decide to make decisions that affect everyone around you, take a breath, listen to those around you and make decisions after getting all your information. Once you do this, you might find those decisions will benefit a large group of folks. After all, it’s Monday. It’s the start of a new week and a new mentality. Have a great day, everyone.

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