We don’t have to agree; we do have to be kind

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Change is challenging. Heck, it’s hard. For some people, it is downright impossible.

Don’t think changing is difficult, take a different route to a place you drive frequently. Make it a trip that’s always the same. Changing it feels weird, right.

Something in you wants the comfortable, familiar way. Taking a different direction shakes up the equilibrium. That’s a small change and if that isn’t easy, think about a big change that pushes us our of our comfort zone.

Perhaps, most challenging is change that asks us to think differently, forces us to reconsider long-held beliefs. Man that’s not something we like. Humans that we are, we like to decide the way a thing should be and it should stay that way. Do not ask us to give up our precious ideas about life.

And how do we get those precious ideas? Well, we start by being told by people older, and hopefully wiser (not always wiser) than us what is right and what is wrong. We get this from parents and family members, teachers, ministers if we attend church, and in our society, the internet, the television, books (well hopefully folks still read) etc…

Once that programming is in our heads that is how we view the world. That’s the way we see it and darn it, we know it’s the right way.

The only problem is sometimes, well all the time, the programming changes. That leaves us in a pickle because we suddenly face a world that is alien from what we think it should be.

Let me give you an example. I grew up a Southern Baptist, (and I’m grateful for the Bible verses I learned) with distinct ideas and beliefs. One of the biggies when was I growing up was the teaching that divorce was wrong. It was, in fact, a sin and sins bound you for hell. There was lots of whispering about and sometimes ostracizing of anyone who got a divorce.

You married one person; that was it. It was only OK to be married more than once if your husband or wife died. (Even that was confusing because there was scripture about marrying the brother if the husband died. Thankfully, my Baptists didn’t push that one).

There were other big sins too — having a baby out of wedlock, living in sin (translation getting sexy without a ring on your finger), marrying someone of a different race…

Yes, I know for some these remain sins, but things changed. Nowadays good Baptists get divorces and there is a minimum, if any, whispering and probably no ostracizing.

People live together before they get married; the bride wears white when they do marry and everyone celebrates without a mention of hellfire and damnation because they “lived in sin” before the vows. Some of these couples don’t have the same skin color, and it’s fine and dandy.

Now, I’m not getting into a discussion about the most recent change society is embracing — same sex couples and their right to marry. I’m just saying in my lifetime I’ve seen ideas about what is sinful and what is acceptable change dramatically. That, to me, is good because it seems we might be a bit more accepting and a little less judgmental.

Still, old programming isn’t gone. It’s running in the background and if we don’t know its running, it makes new ideas hard to consider.

So, maybe we need patience and the realization that changing a lifetime of thinking one way doesn’t happen overnight. Perhaps, we need to understand something the Bible told us about human nature.

“…there is nothing unclean of itself: but to him that esteemeth anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean.” Rom. 14:14.

We have strong ideas about unclean stuff and changing that takes awareness and time.

So yes, change is hard. However, even if we don’t agree, we can be kind to each other while we adjust to the changes life is sending us.


Nancy Blackmon is a writer and a yoga teacher.