Dealing with Differences

Have a look at this short video:

For reflection:

  • How do you cope when someone is different to you?
  • What do you do when someone acts in a way that you are strongly in disagreement with?

We live in a Pluralistic age

This is an extraordinary time. Due to travel, technology, media (and 25 other things) the United Kingdom has become a place where many worldviews now co-exist. Not only do different worldviews share the same town, they often share the same street. In a few cases they even share the same family (I am an example of this). Pluralism is when lots of worldviews exist in the same place. We are living in a pluralistic age.

The skill of dealing with differences has become a vital skill. Whatever life you hope to lead it is guaranteed that at some point you will have to work out how to cope with people who act and think in ways that fundamentally different to your own. 

Bad Ways

The video clip above is an example of someone dealing with differences badly. 

They are ignoring and covering up things which are uncomfortable. This is not true tolerance because nothing is being tolerated! 

There are lots of places in the world today where this is how groups of powerful people deal with differences. In many cases there are horrific human rights violations. It isn't hard to find examples on the news on most days. 

A Good Way

This is one of the best approaches for dealing with differences I have yet come across. 

1. Aim to understand the person accurately - work hard at seeing things from their point of view. Study them.

This is notoriously difficult to do - mainly because you are trying to understand a point of view that you probably don't agree with! My personal conviction is that this kind of step towards a fuller understanding of others is an act of love that will bring great blessing (it is also a reason why I love being an RS teacher).

2. Even if you disagree with what they believe, they are still a person who deserves to be shown kindness. Compassion must rule our behaviour. 

The parable of the good samaritan in Luke 10v25 shows a man putting aside his prejudices to save the life of a wounded man. It is a beautiful story.

3. Being straightforward and honest about what you think.

This is hard for some and easy for others! Some people find it very easy to declare (in person or on social media) how they 'hate' such and such a view. Others would never dream of being so bold - their acceptance and standing in the community relies on keeping the peace and appearing completely in agreement with things. 

Ultimately it is important that we learn to be honest with one another. How can someone ever change and adapt if they are never challenged to question their ideas and practices?

Finally the key is to hold these three things in balance - working hard at understanding the other person, being committed to compassion while also being honest.  

If you have anything to add to this please get in touch