Today is July 4th. Here are some things that I try to remember on the celebration of the day that the greatest idea ever conceived was brought to fruition (however imperfectly that was done…)
I try to understand that sometimes, people have viewpoints that are diametrically opposed to mine. I try to remember that those beliefs are most often sincerely held and reasonably arrived at. I try to remember that those folks want a better world, too.
I try really hard not to demonize people and assume the worst about them. I try not to create in my head masses of terrible people who all think in lockstep. Instead, I try to remember that every individual has trod a different path. I try to remember that name-calling and demonizing only diminish me, are quite childish, and don’t serve any larger purpose.
I try to remember that democracy is the best way we’ve found so far to deal with these inevitable differences. I try to remember that in a democracy things don’t always go my way. But I also try to remember that the pendulum of society swings back and forth, and that the arc of change is bending towards justice and a better life for all.
I try to remember that this all takes time. I try to remember that sometimes the path to get there is one that I may not think is the best, but turns out to be the best. I try to remember that the world is an enormously better place than it was 100 years ago.
I try to remember that I have enough trouble running my own life and that running someone else’s life is well beyond my abilities. I try to remember that I usually can’t know what is best for someone else. I try to remember that people have the right to live their lives as they see fit without me telling them how to live.
And finally, I try to remember that the best and most effective way for me to to bring about change is to change myself. I try to remember that I can’t actually change the hearts of others and that only they can do that. I try to remember that very often they have to be persuaded to change, and that love and kindness and patience and reason are the most powerful tools of persuasion that we have.
It’s a lot to remember, but I try.