A friend shared a link to an article and I found it to be very interesting. I found it interesting because it’s a chance to learn a lesson from an unexpected source. Before I share my thoughts though, I’d like you to read the article. It’s a long one at just under 3000 words, so you’ll need a few minutes to read it through.
What did you think?
My friend had this to say when she posted the link on Facebook, “I can’t tell if I’m more disturbed that these people exist in this day and age or that they can be calm and charming.”
That likely would have been my initial thought had I not read her comment before reading the article.
Let me offer another thought that I shared as a comment in reply to hers. “I actually found it rather fascinating that out of all the people rallying against this student, one professor was open minded enough to accept the individual separate from his beliefs.”
What’s more, I’m starting to think that I should be rather saddened that ONLY one professor was open minded enough to accept the individual separate from his beliefs.
What if instead of being a white supremacist, this student was a Christian Zealot? What if he was a Muslim Radical? What if he believed the Earth was flat? What if he was a Gay Rights activist? What if he believed in Abortion… or preached Anti-Abortion?
Are we to be judged solely on the merits of our beliefs? Is it more than that, perhaps our actions come into play. What if nobody sees those beliefs or actions? What if you keep them to yourself?
Do you judge someone differently when their beliefs or actions are held in private? Most likely you do.
You judge people differently when you are unaware of their beliefs and actions.
Think about all your friends. How many of them do you really know? Can you tell me their Religious Beliefs? Can you tell me their view on Abortion? Can you tell me their thoughts on Gay Rights? Can you tell me their stance on the Death Penalty? What if they believed their race was superior? These are some of the most controversial topics of our times.
If you found out that your friend not only believed in things opposite your beliefs but actively preached these beliefs to the world, how would you feel?
Would you feel betrayed? Would you feel angry? Could you/Would you/Should you maintain that friendship?
I would posit that being closed minded to alternative possibilities is worse than holding a radical or unpopular belief.
The Lessons in Friendship
Here are the lessons you should come away with after reading this post and the accompanying article.
- Everyone has their own set of beliefs, but that doesn’t exclude them from the potential for friendship.
- Some people could really use a friend.
- Friendships can span across differing belief systems.
- Don’t judge a book by its cover.
What are your thoughts?