Saturday, October 13, 2007

Don't Polarize Me!

Al Gore just won the Nobel Peace Prize. If he runs for President again he will polarize the issue of the earth’s wellness even more than it already is. There are so many things in this world that we are forced to take a stand on. To not have an opinion or to still be discerning your personal belief is seen as weak or less credible. But there is a part of me that thinks about the importance of relationships and bridge building when it comes to taking a stand. Because in some ways, ever time I take a stand, I also begin to alienate someone else who believes differently or I sway someone prematurely.

Now I’m not saying that being opinionated is bad, but what if belief in anything was based on a continuum? What if I could change my mind over time and experience? Would I lose my credibility or would I even be taken seriously anymore?

In the last few years I have thought about this a great deal. Those who know me, understand that taking a stand on social issues is what I do. People know where my heart rests even if I am comfortable with those who oppose me. However, through the years, I have also alienated people because my beliefs were strong and at times, felt I would never budge. However, I have….on many issues.

There have been moments when I have been forced to take a stand on a particular issue in a conversation even though I wasn’t passionate about it. The mistake I have made is that I argued the point as if I had passion about it. Thus, creating the illusion that my thoughts were set I stone. I became a statistic of the polarization of the issue without ever really needing to. I never built the bridges in the relationships and never allowed myself or others to simply change their minds.

Really, I should know better.

When I was in college and realized that I was gay, I thought that all homophobic people were crazy and they instantly lost credibility in my mind. There were some people that I never even gave a second glace. I wrote them off as ignorant and never worked to understand where their thoughts were coming from. Thankfully, I learned over the years, that this kind of behavior is not in line with my larger principles of building community and loving people for where they are at. To this day, I have friends that believe quite differently than I do….and I realize that they, like myself, are in a state of becoming and understanding.

I say this only because, the same has happened to me on the reverse. I have been written off for the belief I professed and the conversation closed for my “ignorance” on a particular issue. However, what some might find surprising, is that I since changed my mind.

Today as we ponder the larger questions in life, I wonder what it would look like if we simply allowed humanity to BE in the state of becoming rather than chart the course we see fit? What if we said, I believe ______ because of my experiences…but if I had another experience, I might change? Would we build relationships and community with these kinds of statements or would be seen as lacking credibility?

For myself, I maintain the beliefs I hold today…but today is all I have and tomorrow could be very different.

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