I enjoy chewing on things, mentally. One of the greatest gifts I have given myself is permission to truly study and understand those who are different from me in their thinking and their lives and their beliefs. It is humbling to realize how easily I categorized people under one label. I didn't think I did. I swore I didn't.
But, oh, I did.
I once lived in fear of spending too much time with those with whom I disagreed. In church lingo, I feared them "pulling me down" instead of me "pulling them up." Ugh. It's a big deal for me to say that out loud. That one hurts to read and confess. See, it is in being open to the world and to people which continues to solidify (as well as confuse) my beliefs and my theories and life choices. Yet, when certain things do come together, I can know that I came to that decision with true understanding ... not just what I thought was true. People are people - individuals. You can't understand them unless you know them.
So, I read a lot of statistics and studies, but I also realize they are a portion of the entire picture. One study does not a full determination make. Just doesn't. Man, wouldn't life be grand if it DID? We would have all the answers.
Yet, I find things fascinating. I find certain things confusing. For instance, the more intelligent you are the more likely you are an atheist or agnostic. My first response to that years ago? Well, of course! They're so smart they don't think they need God (not my response, but one that I regurgitated from some Christian writer or something-or-other). Well, on that same note, the more intelligent you are the less likely you are to be racist.
THAT is my caramel chew. It has been stuck in my teeth for quite some time. I read the stats, but I also read my friends. I see it. It takes years of sharing life and building relationships. Yet, it is there. It's not 100% across the board. Nothing is. But I refuse to just ignore it. What can I learn from this? Why? And to learn it I have to spend more time and share more of my life and listen without retort (holy crap, that's hard for me, because I like to say at least 45,000 words per day ... at least).
Years ago I would have just gotten mad at some of this stuff. Now, I have to listen to my own advice - errrrrgggg, I HATE that! I know that mad/angry is a miscue for what you're really feeling. I was typically feeling fear when my beliefs were challenged. Had to stare that one straight down. Had to determine the "why?" and work through it. Tough stuff. Does not happen overnight.
I don't share this kind of stuff often, because we're all in a different place, and some of you will immediately respond with anger. I seriously don't want to trigger that in you. This is just about hearing. Hearing to understand. That doesn't mean you have to agree. It also means that it can challenge your belief system and you can let it. Try to just chew on it. Whatever your initial responses are, hold on to them and chew. Taste it. Feel it stuck in your teeth. Try to figure it out. Learn something about yourself while you're learning about others.
It is a TOUGH discipline. I won't sugar coat it (no caramel chew pun intended). We are passionate people. That can be such a great thing! Allow it to be a part of sharing your life, but don't let it suffocate you. I'm speaking to everyone on every "side" (whatever those are).
Just try it.
So, here is the article which got me to munching on these thoughts again today: "Liberalism, atheism, male sexual exclusivity linked to IQ" by Elizabeth Landau, CNN.
Something I found last year: Jonathan Haidt's "Moral Roots of Liberals and Conservatives"
I'm currently reading Richard Dawkins' "The God Delusion" (yes, I realize I'm always a few years behind everything). I enjoy Dawkins. It's interesting to read how an atheist finds agnostics entirely too on the fence. :) He also had a wonderful presentation at TED (if you're not a reader) titled "Militant Atheism." That particular talk taught me a lot about myself and how I live out my faith - how I really don't listen and respond without understanding - how I stop listening and begin the debate in my head. My favorite portion is right around the 8:20 mark. I understand Richard Dawkins and I learn a lot from him now that I hear him.
Unwrap it and get to chewing.
(photo by Chris Chidsey)