Sometimes a physical line separates us from another--a wall, fence, or door. However, all of those obstacles can be overcome with effort or time. What more frequently separates us are ideas, inflexibility, history, assumptions, and many other things that we identify as "complicated." To be honest, life situations are often complicated. We want an easy fix. The last time I prepared to visit Israel, people made such comments as,
While you're over there, try to convince Israel to give land back to Palestinians, would you?Make sure you avoid the bad guys. There's a lot of evil over there.Let them know Americans support them.
Our questions and statements, no matter how well-intentioned they are, usually reveal our naivete. We let our experiences, media exposure, and goals and preferences tint what we're willing to see. We wear paths in our thinking patterns that make the most sense even when we're staring straight into details that could change our perspective. We get defensive, because we're confident that accepting something that might contradict what we have firmly believed might wipe out the stability of everything we've ever believed. Instead, we must realize our perspective not only can change; it must in order for us to grow. If what we believe is truth, it will stand the tests of time and trial, but it must constantly be refined in order to chip away at all the misunderstandings and assumptions we've let build up.
As black and white as we'd like to believe our worlds to be, there's a lot more grey than we care to admit much of the time. If we stay on our own side of the fence, we can protect our little world of beliefs. Perhaps we've tried to cross a boundary to experience another person's perspective, but we got challenged, ridiculed, or attacked. But there's more than one way to cross lines. Get to know an individual. Do your research. Ask questions. You won't agree with everything and everyone you encounter, but you'll begin to understand someone else's assumptions, experiences, and perspectives. You might not let go of all of your own--and perhaps you shouldn't--but you'll still be changed.Admit your solution has weaknesses. No earthly solution is perfect. It's complicated. When we choose well morally, we may expose ourselves to attack. When we choose well diplomatically, we may expose ourselves to false judgment. When we choose well strategically, we might let our perspective and preference cloud our righteousness. Choose well anyway. Don't freeze yourself or your beliefs in time. Move. Grow. Change. Live.Growth mandates the ability and willingness to change.