How does one explain the “hidden” side of community? I can’t profess to be an expert – I rarely stay long enough in one community to be an expert. I can profess to have a casual understanding of a wide range of communities, each varying by their type, size, and culture. It is interesting to compare and contrast one’s personal experience with first impressions. There is a consistency of how different one sees things with experience, how accurate certain first impressions are, and what only comes with time.
Ironically one often finds first impressions predicting the future, dictating how one approach situations, and establishes a filter, inherently biased. In certain situations it is hard to know what shapes one experience more, anticipating what one predicts and then seeing every experience through this lens or letting life for what it is teach, instruct, and shape the emerging memories. Are we willing and able to let life teach us or are we in the business of control?
I find New York is often seen through two very different lenses. One lens is shaped and determined by the choices made by those in advance of what happens. Principles and values take second place, overridden by the stereotypes and prejudices formed in advance. The other is principle based. One sees and reacts to life through the lens of the values one holds closest to one’s heart. Everything is possible. Nothing is predetermined. An open mind filled with an eagerness to share and learn shapes this alternative.
I find myself slipping into the stereotypes far more than I like to admit. The process transcends community, effortlessly shaping my experience with those around me as well as Divinity. When I hear certain warnings, like “‘If you'll willingly obey [God], you'll feast like kings. But if you're willful and stubborn, you'll die like dogs.’ That's right. God says so.” (Isaiah 1.19, 20) This is a fact, not a prediction. Things are not caused by God but rather by my choices.
Today is wide open. I wonder; what will I make of it?
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