Just Like Me

This past Father’s Day, I was thinking about my father who passed away nine years ago. Dad was the most influential person in my life. What occurred to me, for the first time, was that had he not been my Dad, I would likely have never met him.

That sounds stupidly obvious, but there’s more to it.

Dad was an evangelical Christian, a teetotaler and politically very conservative. For Dad, there was one correct way to believe and worship. He had little respect for anyone who consumed alcohol and he was a Barry Goldwater/Richard Nixon conservative.

This last point was reinforced by a funny thing that happened at his funeral.

The left side of the church was completely cordoned off for the service so no one would sit in those pews. At the conclusion, the pastor explained. “You might be wondering why you are all seated on the right side of the sanctuary….., well as I am sure you are aware, Norm was a little right of center himself!”

So, what’s my point?

No one would confuse me socially or politically with my Dad. Neither would the above description apply to most of our friends. That’s more dangerous than it sounds!

Our country is polarized. When I was young, the news was curated by respected newsmen (yes men), like; Walter Cronkite, Tom Brokaw and David Brinkley. Times have changed! Most people now have a preferred “flavor” of news. Views have become extreme. Few respectfully listen to views that differ from their own.

My best high school friend, who never talked politics and didn’t care about current events beyond what kind of beer was on sale, now rants on as if he were Trump’s campaign manager. I have to admit, I don’t call him as often anymore.

Increasingly, people don’t associate with individuals who vocally express contrary views.
I view myself as open-minded. Yet, I am as guilty of this as the next person. A few years back, some close friends started a discussion group that meets monthly. The members are primarily educated, white, progressive liberals. For some reason, the discussions are mostly comfortable. Sadly, few of the social gatherings I attend could be described as diverse.

There is an old saying; “birds of a feather flock together”! This practice impoverishes ourselves and our country! Worse yet, it is plainly dangerous. We see difference as “other”, a precursor to violence. Few “seek to understand”. No wonder there is social unrest!

There is more to a person than their race, religion, or political point of view. We can (and should) learn from one another! But to do that, we need to seek each other out!

Which brings me back to my Father’s Day reflection. Given our divergent viewpoints and social inclinations, if he were he not my Dad, it is unlikely that I would have met Norman Coats, the most influential person of my life!

That’s worth thinking about!

Key Principle: Following the wisdom awareness reveals
Key Question: What action could you take today to broaden understanding of people unlike yourself?

Link To Previous Posts: https://tim-coats.com/posting-briefs/

2 Replies to “Just Like Me”

  1. Thank you for reminding me being a member of a tribe causes us to forget that rifferent tribes are different, It requires conscious thought to visit other tribes as being with the tribes provides comfort and security. Today it easier than ever to join a tribe because you do not need to leave the comfort of your couch to join,

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  2. Great post, Tim! I do a lot of thinking about this topic, however, I hadn’t thought about in the context of not meeting someone who is in my life and important to me. I’m fascinated in why and how people believe what they believe and regularly practice courageous conversations with people who believe differently than me. There are 3 things I always ask for agreement on up front: no attacking, no defending, no try to convince. then we can enter into a conversation that can build shared understanding.

    Like

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