I make it a point to look for the good in the other and to focus on lifting that up rather than pointing out the person’s weaknesses. I remember the biblical call to humility, and remind myself that I may not be seeing the other person the way God sees him or her.
~Seeing Gray in a World of Black and White, Adam Hamilton
I had my annual check up with the eye doctor a couple weeks ago. I’ve noticed the last couple of years that when I’m closer to a screen, book, or whatever is in front of me, I tend to take my glasses off because I can see better that way. I mentioned this to him last year, and he said that it’s not usual for our eyesight to get a little better when we hit our forties, and at some point, when it starts to bother me a bit more, I’ll probably need to switch to bifocals.
Eyes are funny things, aren’t they? I first got glasses when I was in elementary school. Fourth grade. Back then I was a big-time bowler. I realized that I was having a hard time seeing the pins, and my parents got my eyes checked. I got made fun of a little bit, but I didn’t let it bother me. I actually remember a conversation with a friend of mine. I asked him why he was making fun of me for wearing glasses when he had been wearing them for years. He said that people made fun of him when he got glasses, and he thought that’s what he was supposed to do. We worked it out.
I think my prescription changed a few times in those early years, but the first pair of glasses I bought myself was when I was in college. Those glasses lasted me for nearly 10 years. Really, the only reason I replaced them was to get a new style. I have gone a long time on the same prescription. In fact, it’s still barely changed since then. As I said, it’s only been in the last year or two that my vision has actually gotten a little better.
It’s funny how we can see things the same way for so long, and then, seemingly overnight, things start to change.
How do you look at people who are different from you? Are you skeptical? Do you keep a close eye on them because you don’t trust them? Are you suspicious? Do you automatically assume things about them?
I think we all do, at least to some extent. It’s only when we are conscious of our biases that we can change our perception. Sometimes, I think about how my views have changed through the years. Some things are more important to me, others are less so.
Perhaps the biggest change we need to have in how we see things comes in relation to how we look at other people.
It’s not going to shock you when I say that we seem more divided than ever in our nation. There are a lot of things to blame for this division — biased media (on both ends of the spectrum), social media algorithms (whatever gets more rage boiling tends to get more clicks), political rhetoric infiltrating every aspect of our lives.
Some of this is because of intentional targeting from foreign agents who seem to think that dividing people is the best way to weaken them — they may be right. Some of it is simply because people have no clue how to disagree without being disagreeable.
We all see things differently. But instead of acknowledging, or even welcoming, this difference of opinion for what it is — just a difference of opinion — people go on the offensive and try to tear down others because of these different viewpoints.
I have come across a couple of videos by a TikTok creator (yeah, I know, I know, leave me alone) who is trying to make sense of things that seem particularly contradictory, especially coming from people of the Christian faith. In her comments, there are some who say that she’s not even a Christian because of the content she is making. And this is the major problem with social media, and the fact that people think they don’t have to be decent human beings on it.
The Christian faith is filled with all kinds of different points of view. It has been for centuries. And, certainly, those who hold opposing points of view have fought, sometimes quite literally.
Christianity has a very dark history of not treating deviations from the norm very well — like when William Tyndale was strangled and his body burned after being found guilty of heresy… like translating the Bible into English and believing that Bible interpretation wasn’t solely the realm of clergy.
I’ve been listening to the Pirate History Podcast lately, and it’s incredible how much violence in the 1500’s and 1600’s had to do with Protestants and Catholics who just couldn’t see eye to eye and be okay with that. The English had no problem attacking the Spanish because they were predominately Catholic, and the Spanish felt justified in attacking the English because they were Protestant. It’s stupid.
If we are to truly move forward, we have to come to terms with the fact that there are a variety of ways of looking at things in this world, and there is nothing wrong with disagreements, even about fundamental differences, as long as there is a respect for human life and decency at the core of these differing beliefs. We don’t have to put people into the “other” camp and ostracize them for thinking differently. Once we begin to see that, the world will be a better place.