Microclimates Part II
This is part II. You can read part I here. Differences are easier to see when you move from Los Angeles to Appalachia, or vice versa. Which is why we have those ridiculous reality shows about Amish teens going to New York City. Things are strange enough that you don't assume you know why the people are the way they are, in which case you either get curious and explore, or tear the culture apart with your ignorance.
But what about your neighbor, or your waiter, or your mayor? The people right next to you–they too are a microclimate, a sub-culture, a representation of a unique experience that led to a unique view of the world.
I don't want to minimize our similarities (selfishness, greed, anger, hatred of Nickelback). But if we don't take time to think, it's easy to assume that everyone else shares our perspective and motivation. So in the name of efficiency, instead of doing the hard work of relationship–finding out what drives someone–we play cultural mad-libs.
It's easier to make ourselves come out smelling like a hero when we can turn someone else into a villain. It's easier to assume that we are right and they are evil than put ourselves in a position that might make us question our own perspective. It's easier, but it's a terrible way to relate to anyone.
A friend once pointed out to me, "Do not bear false witness against your neighbor" is possibly the most overlooked of the Ten Commandments. Talk about a knife in the gut. When he told me, I saw a dozen faces I had sorted, labeled, and put on display.
But maybe God knows better than we do how our motivational Mad Libs can damage the world He created. Lest we join the relationship splitting lie fest that has plagued our suspicious species for millennia, may we be quick to listen, slow to speak
–and slow to assume.