Let's Talk About It: Differences

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Over the past few months, the Choctawk team has been having some pretty serious discussions on religion, politics, personal tragedies, and the need we see in the world. When you come to college, you'll come across people who believe differently than you, and you'll wrestle with your own beliefs and what they truly mean for your life. We feel as if these conversations are necessary to life, necessary to find the common humanity in others. Thus, we have decided to begin a series to discuss the hard things we've encountered; this is part one. 

I personally believe that the most important lesson I have learned is that being different does not mean someone is worthy of disrespect or unworthy of success. While this may seem like a simple concept, it's difficult to truly believe and embody in your life. This past year has made it especially easy to vilify those who are different from me, and I have to remind myself that different does not in any way equal hateful, stupid, or evil.  

Throughout the course of your life, you are going to work with people who hold different beliefs than you. Whether you disagree about how the government should be run, which religion is correct, or whether Hamilton is worth the hype, do not begin to harbor hard feelings toward these people. We are called to show love to everyone we encounter. 

Now, I'm not advocating for moral relativity. I personally believe that there are definite rights and wrongs in our world, and my religious beliefs dictate this. Several times, I feel as we mistake love for others as a complete disregard for morality. Let me say this: Loving someone does not mean that you have to give up your beliefs. As a Christian, I believe that loving those who I may disagree with is the very outpouring of Christ in me. 

Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore, love is the fulfillment of the law.
— Romans 13:10

In today's climate, I often feel as if it's impossible to be good friends with those who hold different opinions on politics, religion, or more trivial things, such as taste in movies. We are so polarized, and I find this absolutely heartbreaking. To be honest with you, I tend to lean toward a more liberal view in politics, but my best friends are Republicans. However, no political party has a monopoly on good ideas, compassion, or Christianity. I mean it. Republicans can do good. Democrats can do good. Let's celebrate the compassion and humanity we find in others. Beyond politics, religion, opinions, and habits, we are all human beings. Christ died for the very people with whom you and I disagree. 

I want to challenge you to find others who are different than you. I volunteer with someone who does not hold the same religious beliefs I do, but he is kind, compassionate, and loving. He is a person worthy of respect and love. Read the biographies of great men and women who have changed the world, but who do not identify the same way as you. Listen to others; get to know others; love others. Celebrate their successes; mourn their tragedies. 

I believe that treating others with respect is the start of repairing the brokenness in our world. Love, especially love that is motivated by Christ, will mend fractions and factions. 

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