Not Like Me

If we cannot now end our differences, at least we can help make the world safe for diversity-John F. Kennedy

I believe most people have a lot in common.  We want what’s best for ourselves, our family and for others.  We have different ideas of what’s right and wrong, what makes us safe or puts us in danger and what’s important and what’s not.

There has been a lot said lately about how we, as a nation, have become more and more divided.   We listen and read news which echoes our own views.  We live and socialize with people who think like us.  The Big Sort  talks about how we have separated ourselves into homogenous communities.  This makes us more and more certain and extreme in our beliefs, and more divided.

We often see those who are different from us as the enemy.  StockSnap_OETD13H0YWPeople with a different skin color, different religion and those who dress or think differently than we do.  Yet research has backed up the importance of diversity in our schools and businesses and lives.   We cannot succeed without inclusion of those “not like us”.

I’m grateful to work in an urban area where I’m in contact with many people daily. People of all nationalities, social and economic backgrounds and religions. It’s not unusual to see a woman in burka or Hasidic Jewish man preserving Hebrew culture with side curls.

When I bring a patient in for a visit, guess what. They all look at me with the same level of anticipation, dread, fear or joy. There’s a common thread of humanity that’s wonderful reminder for me.   They are all open to share their hopes, their dreams and their disappointments.  We can connect on a human level.

So with all of this talk about how we are divided, how can we stay connected as humans?  Here are some of the suggestions I received from friends,  “Compassion” , “get rid of the hate, you can’t reason with hate”, or “just listen, without judging”.                 StockSnap_XN5DJWZ7MF

I heard an essay by Martin Luther King  as described by David Brooks. “We have to make sure that we don’t fall into the same traps as our own enemies of stereotyping people, generalizing.  He (MLK) said all those people who want to preserve segregation may take a view that we find abhorrent but they are individuals and we should treat them as individual people who are struggling in their lives and not make ..stereotypical generalizations on how evil they all are”

Life is complicated.  Do you have any good ideas for getting along with people who you disagree with or are not like you?  Let me know.  I have no great answers,  just a lot of questions.

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