Why Differences are Threatening

In expressing our opinions and describing what we do, we are expressing our values and describing what is important to us.

When we encounter people who do things differently, we can see the simple fact of those differences as attacks on our values, and, therefore, on us.

When desiring to keep the peace, I think we must remain carefully aware of this.

Just yesterday I was at a baby shower and got off on a rant about potty-training (so sue me. It’s the season I’m parenting).

The camp I’m in (if I may call it a camp) is that once the kid knows what to do, when she’s ready, she will. I refuse to force the issue because I don’t see it as important enough to initiate a battle of wills.

The camp of my listener is the early-is-better camp, having (mostly) trained all her children before they could talk.

She listened patiently, with a slightly concerned look on her face, and said carefully, “Well, that’s one way to do it.”

Gracious lady.

“I prefer to start before they develop a will,” she added, explaining her position. “Then it never becomes a battle, it’s just part of what you do.”

She is also a Suzuki-mama, so this seems totally in-line with other parts of her life.

Afterwards I was thinking about how differently we saw this and approached her to verify I hadn’t sounded rude or something, and she took the moment to both say no and express how thankful she was that we could disagree and still be friends.

“It seems like so many people can’t be friends when they don’t agree.”

And she’s right. I like to think we’d still be this gracious even if we didn’t have five years of history together, but that commonality has just got to make peace easier.

Maybe when it is established that there is much love; when we have enough shared experiences, and the proof of good-faith that grows through years, we better understand that “love covers a multitude” of differences.

This is something precious in our transient modern society: to have relationships in addition to marriage that are built over years.

I am extremely thankful for that handful of friends that, despite our dissimilitude, continue to share their lives with me.

3 thoughts on “Why Differences are Threatening

  1. I think people have to really grow up to be able to accept differences. It takes maturity to look at someone and say “I don’t agree with you.” and then not takes things as an attack. I’m still not so great at it. Good thoughts.

  2. Thoughtful observation. I think you did the right thing to approach her and verify her feelings. So no one would obsess about misunderstandings. You had that degree of trust that you could compare notes with mutual respect.

  3. Pingback: Untangling Tales » Archive du blog » Looking to the New Year

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