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People, Not Lists

September 19, 2009

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I’ve had long, rambling ideas going through my head for a while and though I intended to post about them, I don’t think I will be able to organize the detail that I have in my head into a readable post.

The gist of it is this:  we are all human; the more we try to compartmentalize parts of ourselves and categorize our likes/dislikes/beliefs/habits rather than treating each other as whole packages, the more we isolate ourselves and each other and place divisions that can become insurmountable.  If we ever expect to find common ground with each other, we can’t allow those differences to define us.

Anybody can feel that they are different from others, that they don’t really fit in, but if you are looking for reasons for why you don’t fit in then you may ignore reasons why you do.  And we all want to fit in to a degree, to share interactions, conversation, meals, experiences with other people.  I’m not talking about conforming here; I relish myself fairly nonconformist.  I’m talking the human experience of being connected with another person.

I have many things in common with my general group of real life friends, but there are things we don’t share.  As a good and relevant example, I’m a Christian.  Not the kind that typically comes to mind when many people think of “Christians”.  I’m not a Bible-thumping, prostheletizing, fundamentalist kind.  I live my faith in a quiet manner and try to follow the ideals and morals that represent my faith.  Though I fail at times, I still earnestly try.  Though most of my friends don’t share my beliefs, may in fact be on the opposite side of the spectrum in some cases, I’m quite sure that they don’t think of me or refer to me as their Christian friend, because they accept me as a whole. I don’t define myself by one aspect of my life.  I don’t identify my friends as vegetarians or omnivores,  fat or thin, parents of multiple children or single children, old or young, liberal or conservative, home, private or public schooling, good cooks or bad cooks, immigrant or natural born US citizen, funny or serious.  Do I notice these?  Of course, but only so far as they combine into a unique package:  a person I care about.  I don’t compartmentalize my friend’s attributes because they are not modular, they are all pieces of a whole that fit intricately together.  If you remove that characteristic and examine it alone, you lose the nuances that exist when it is taken with the rest of their quirks, preferences, values and choices.

As long as we continue to try to group people into neat little columns of pros and cons or checklists of preferences, then we lose the richness of experiencing each other fully and seeing that we are more alike than we are different.  And we diminish our ability to treat each other with compassion and understanding and meet on common ground.

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. September 19, 2009 5:10 pm

    poignant, timely and true.

    also, love your new blog look! i am so tempted to haul over to wordpress.

    • September 19, 2009 5:18 pm

      Thanks April. I’ve needed a new look for awhile now.

      I really like WP. It has a few quirks that I find annoying, but not annoying enough to remember what they are now, but when they happen it makes me go “grr”. Overall I think it’s better than Blogger and they have an easy tool to transfer Blogger blogs over to WP.

  2. September 19, 2009 7:21 pm

    I’m with you. I’m a Christian but I don’t feel the need to share that with everyone. Mainly because the word is so misused. Maybe I’d rather call myself a believer. You know what I am saying.

    • September 19, 2009 8:09 pm

      I absolutely know what you mean, Denise.

  3. Mom permalink
    September 19, 2009 8:59 pm

    I love this post. The whole thing is so true. I am made up of many ideas, but the whole package makes me a unique individual. I have friends of varying faiths, color, ethnic background but they are each very special to me and I see them as my wonderful friends that I am very blessed to have. My mom used to tell us when we were growing up that it would be very boring if we were all the same. She was absolutely right on that point. Once again, great post!

  4. Aunt Kathy permalink
    September 21, 2009 6:58 am

    Well said!! I agree with you and your respondees. Once again, you articulate things sooooo well! Love ya!

  5. September 22, 2009 7:13 am

    Oh Lisa, I love this post. I agree. I could go on and on. I never see people like this. I never even notice when someone I know cuts their hair or dyes it, they are just the people I love.

    I think you are right. If we could see people not based on their individual differences the world would be a better place. When I first entered the blog world, I got so caught up in not being this or that, it took me awhile to realize, ummm, that’s ok.

    I met a blog friend who at first I didn’t know if we were suited, she seemed so different, but something kept drawing me back to her blog, and now I have found even though we have some big differences we share a lot of other things in common!

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