No single way is always the right way…

“6+3=9, but so does 5+4.  The way you do things is not always the only way.  Respect other people’s way of thinking.”  (Facebook Posting) – as seen on the Jack’s Winning Words blog today.

Also in the news in today’s Oakland Press was a story about Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson stating that he is in favor of theexclusion constitutional amendment to the Michigan Constitution that would protect the GLBT community from discrimination. Patterson is a well-known Republican conservative, but has also recognized the ugliness and hate that comes with discrimination. He is basically saying – respect other people’s way of living.

My wife often has to admonish me when I say something or do something that corrects or questions her way of thinking or doing things. She has her own way of doing things and it is often not the way that I would do it; so, that makes it “not the right way” in my mind (at least until I’m reminded to think more about it.) In addition to asking me to mind my own business, she is gently (sometimes not so much) telling me to – respect other people’s way of living.

I am reminded of the many stories in the Bible of the pharisees and priests who were aghast at the things that Jesus did, both in the temples and in Jesus in templegeneral. Our modern day pharisees are the moralizing, so-called Christian evangelicals who seem to spend more time criticizing the lives of others than putting their own lives in order. Like the high priests and pharisees of old, these modern day pharisees are sure that they occupy the moral high-ground and that their way is the only right way to live. And like those hypocrites of old, they try to take actions to correct or discriminate against those who choose to live differently. In modern times this holier-than-thou group uses political power to try to legitimize their discrimination through laws (or lack of laws) aimed at those who are “different.” They wrap themselves in a false morality that does not – respect other people’s way of living.

This same group of modern day pharisees is at the core of the current movement to also discriminate against those who practice religions different from theirs: since, obviously, their religion is the only correct one. They completely miss the irony that this country was founded by opinionatedpeople who were immigrants escaping religious persecution due to the fact they the religion that they practiced at the time was different from the prevailing religion in England and Europe. It is convenient also to forget about the threat that their immigration to America posed to the Native Americans who were already here. They essentially took the country from those who owned it at the time. Imagine if the Native Americans had enacted a law stopping the flow of these refugees from religious persecution from entering America because they posed a threat. Maybe that would have solved everything. The early settlers obviously did not – respect other people’s way of living.

I suspect that if we all focused upon doing a better job of being ourselves, instead of focusing upon the lives of others, we would all be in a better
place. Instead of spending time working about what negative impact people who choose to live in GLBT lives will have on us or being concerned about people who practice a religion that is different from ours; perhaps we should spend more time living our lives such that they will have a positive impact on those that we meet. Maybe if we are all kinder, more compassionate, more caring and more helpful to others; they will act the same to diversityus in return, no matter what lifestyle they choose to live. In the end, wouldn’t that make the whole world a better place in which to live? It would, because it would be a place in which we all would – respect other people’s way of living

The reality is that the only person that we really have control over is ourselves and many of us haven’t been doing that great of a job with thatbridgiing gaps responsibility, much less worrying about how others live. We need to focus less on others and more on doing the right things ourselves to make sure that we aren’t becoming modern day pharisees and discriminating against those with lives that are different from ours. So, as we begin a new week maybe, before we leave the house today we can resolve to – respect other people’s way of living.

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