*Note: If you read my last post and are wondering if I was talking about you, I probably wasn't. ;-) *
I enjoy reading the blog of Mrs. Elizabeth Foss. It is interesting, insightful, and -- often -- funny. In today's post, she spoke about human relationships. She spoke, in particular, about how to get along with people who are different than you, people who may make you uncomfortable, people with whom you may not see eye-to-eye, or even like very much.
To summarize, she advocates (and I agree with her) being gracious to these kinds of people. For, she explains, if you act graciously you may even begin to have actual feelings of graciousness. If you behave towards someone as if you like him or her, you may find that you do come to like that person. It also seems that some people disagree with Mrs. Foss, because they feel that she is advocating a type of dishonesty. In my opinion, this is silly. She is just saying that people should be tactful, polite, and humble.
I'm going to add my own two cents here, though. (I'm really good at that. Right?) In behaving well towards people who are very different than you, it is important to be sincere. What do I mean by "sincere?" I mean that you must honestly believe that this person with whom you may disagree on many important things may actually have something to say to you -- something worthwhile. You have to have the conviction that even if you are, say, a faithful Catholic or Christian or whatever, that someone on the "other side of the fence" might enlighten you a little. Maybe you won't change your opinion. Maybe you will still believe wholeheartedly in whatever it is you believe in. That's fine. But, hearing another side to an argument -- sincerely and truly hearing it -- might help you to become a more charitable person, a person with a softer heart. And if that person "on the other side of the fence" feels heard -- and I mean sincerely and truly heard -- that may help him or her come to understand you better. Now, do I mean that you should be kind and respectful to people of "different stripes" so that you can fix "the error of their ways?" Absolutely not. I am saying that you should be kind and respectful because it is the right thing to do -- because this is what it means grant people their basic human dignity. It is also important to be sincere in dealing with others because, frankly, most people can tell if you're "faking it." And "faking it" -- in all types of human intercourse -- just leads to bad feelings all around.
Oh, and let's all try having a sense of humor. If you are a conservative, try laughing at one liberal joke a day. If you are a liberal, try laughing at one conservative joke a day. The results may pleasantly surprise you. :D