In a favorite pastime, watching people, the contrasting ways individuals go about similar tasks is fascinating. As an example, there are endless ways to drink from a bottle. While it is easy to categorize using labels such as good, bad, efficient, and potentially messy, I willingly admit that they all seem to work. Diversity does not seem to matter. Even though etiquette comments often come up when one is crossing cultural norms, most do not seem to mind what technique one uses.
There is a line that is crossed when one moves from the frivolous to the serious that contrasting styles become relevant. Spiritual views are often at the opposite extreme. Minute differences matter. Corporate techniques are a close second. If one agrees too much, then there is an open accusation of brown nosing. If one is a constant contrarian, then a different set of accusations emerge. Any variance from the every evolving norm opens one up to judgment.
Depending on my frame of mind, contrasting differences bring a bemusing reflection or a judgmental conclusion. If I wear a traditional hat, then even old writings take on sinister tones. In one case, a writer made the following notation; “while Jews clamor for miraculous demonstrations and Greeks go in for philosophical wisdom, we go right on proclaiming Christ, the Crucified.” (1 Corinthians 1.22) Is the difference relevant? If so, how? Are the differences an opportunity to see from a new perspective? Do they represent an opportunity for conversation?
If I want to move beyond judgment, then I need to adopt a few mantras. They include the following.
Differences are not always good or bad, no matter how obvious they seem. They are, at their heart, just differences.
Everyone, even someone we disagree with, has something to share. We can learn from their lives. We can benefit from their experience.
Truth is strong because it is truth. How willing am I to see the truth found in the other?
In our differences lie gems that can make a positive difference if we are willing to see and hear.