My overriding sense of 2016 is that it has contained much division…with the UK deciding to leave the EU, the USA electing Trump.
I’ve stood strong in my opinions about the above – I believe we’re stronger together in the EU and am prepared to fight against all that Trump stands for. However, I’ve been thinking lately about a quote I heard 6 months ago when watching a TED talk by Julia Galef:
“Do you yearn to defend your own beliefs? Or do you yearn to see the world as clearly as you possibly can?”
I have a feeling that Julia’s words have followed me around for so long because I know I so often resist hearing the opinions of others – I am pulled to defend my own beliefs at all costs. And I have an inkling that this way of being perpetuates the cycle of conflict and division in the world.
A personal example of this is the love my mum has for the author Fanny Flagg, who wrote ‘Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe’. She has spoken about this author for so long and for no reason at all (apart from disliking the author’s name) I have stubbornly refused to read her books. Instead I have preferred to hold onto the opinion that I don’t want to read her books. I have to be honest, I feel sick writing this to you, dear friend. I know that sharing this little anecdote will compel me to read her books and there’s a good chance I will find out that I’ve been wrong for years and will have to swallow my pride about this.
But I know pride does me no good and there is much to gain in being open-minded – it can help me to see the world more clearly…for example, when I step back from my outrage about the UK’s decision to leave the EU, I see a lot of the reasons why people voted to leave.
Some people thought it would move us towards a relationship with the EU akin to Scandinavian countries. Other people voted to leave because they felt the bureaucracy of the EU was broken and in desperate need of reform. People voted to leave out of fear – fear of strangers and scarcity – and other people felt the British welfare was more important than our collective good (calculations of how much money the UK would save if we left the EU, which could be used to bolster the NHS, is a great example of this).
So what am I trying to say to you, dear one?
I know it’s easier to just condemn the ‘opposition’, but to live in a world of peace, we need to be open to understanding where other people are coming from…otherwise how will I ever see the world as it is and why would anyone ever pause to see things from my point of view?