24. Sympathy

Some people are funny about food. I have a friend who’ll eat absolutely no vegetables. In fact, he won’t eat anything on his plate that even comes in contact with vegetables. If, for example, lettuce and tomato come as side-garnishments for his hamburger, he’ll first make sure they’ve not touched the bun. And if they have, he’ll send back the entire plate. I have another friend who likes things plain- no sauce or salt on anything, just plain. For ice cream, only vanilla will do: never any chocolate sauce, just plain vanilla. “Moose Tracks” or “Rocky Road” – you won’t find those in his freezer.

 

My youngest daughter is much the same about food. That seems fairly common in children these days. Her menu choices are terribly limited: chicken fingers, grilled cheese sandwiches, or steak – sometimes a hot dog. Generally speaking, she doesn’t like any sort of casserole or dishes that have multiple ingredients mixed together. And she too is sensitive about the “food-touching-food” thing.

 

Some people are funny about  other people. I think we all know people who are highly critical of those who have different opinions about things. In fact, it’s easy to be that way yourself and not even know it. Just think of conservative Republicans and the liberal Democrats. Old Rush Limbaugh has made a good living out of the mutual lack of sympathy between these two groups.

 

I know it’s hard to sympathize with the opinions of people whose ideas are so far from your own. But it’s certainly worth the effort to try and understand someone else’s point of view – to at least, for a moment, suspend judgment and step into the other person’s shoes.

 

Sometimes it seems that children may even be better about such sympathy than the adults. Maybe that’s because they have not yet developed opinions that are so hard and fast. They seem more innocent and accepting. 

 

People today seem to enjoy arguing. It seems like some take positions that they themselves don’t really even understand. I find it refreshing when someone today is willing to say, “I don’t know.” Isn’t that great? Simply: “I don’t know.” Wow! That statement doesn’t stir any debate. And it’s the perfect lead in to a follow up statement like, “I’ll have to think about that.”

 

We seem to be a society of spirited debaters, who are often times unwilling to have serious, meaningful discussion. It even seems “fashionable” to take a stand or choose a side. To sit on the sidelines claiming uncertainty – well, that just paints you as dumb and unthinking. But I think it’s just the opposite. I think that the person who is willing to consider other opinions and ask questions is the one who experiences the richer and more interesting life.

 

Day 24 Guide

 

Today, drop your weapons. Try to loosen your ideas well enough to ask questions of the other side. It might do you some good to discover again (or maybe for the first time) the nature and the basis of yours and other people’s beliefs. Who knows? Maybe you’ll even run into some other beautiful ideas along the way.

 

© 2005, Levi Hill

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