Every morning when I wake up, one truth becomes more evident. Times are changing. The subtle stroke of optimism in me wants to believe things are changing for the better. For the first time in centuries people from all walks of life, from different generations, and from different ethnic backgrounds, are coming together to bring healthy change to our society. And this is AMAZING. However, we still have a long way to go.
Many of us feel very passionate about our beliefs and our misguided passion can often inflict wounds on the people around us. The very kind of wounds that many of us work so hard to heal in our community and in the world. I am no exception.
Growing up (and even to this day) my mother has always been a passionate woman. If she is talking about something important to her there will be yelling and crying and monologing. While some people would find this behavior inappropriate coming from a woman; it has become one of many character traits that I have come to admire in my mom. And while well-guided passion has historically been an effective vehicle to effect social change, it (as mentioned before) can also be damaging.
Our culture is filled with many abhorrent practices and beliefs that have caused division, death, and radical prejudice in our society. While these practices and beliefs MUST be abolished for the good of all, we MUST be careful in HOW we abolish them.
In my experience, it is too easy to not only attack the unhealthy belief or behavior, but also the person exhibiting them. While it is true that often people make the choice to show prejudice, it is wise to take into consideration that many of us who are trying to effect change used to believe just as they do.
We were no different. Until someone came to us; in love and opened our eyes.
Many of the people who oppose social reform are not evil; they are deceived. They were raised to believe that the status quo is healthy and even sacred.
As someone who believes and preaches inclusivity, I have to be vigilant to make sure I do not ostracize others and create even more division in an attempt to bring people together. It is a sad reality that Satan breeds division even through people who are fighting for good, wholesome things.
This is why we must lead the charge of social reform with a foundation of respect. I don’t have to respect your morally questionable behavior or beliefs, but I should respect you as a human being who I believe is made in the image of God. Maybe the best way to encourage inclusivity is to respect and cherish even the people who violently oppose us.
Why don’t we meet with them? Learn why they believe the things they believe? Form relationship. Show them the power of unity and respect. And maybe, through our example of civility, they will be compelled to show the same kindness to the people they have spent their life labeling as their enemies.