Something that was discussed this week was the idea of cultural baggage. Carman posed a theory that maybe God didn’t mean for the Isrealites to kill all those people in the old testament; maybe he just wanted them displaced. And she couldn’t understand why God would want to instigate a genicide on any scale. Doug Bryce brought up the idea of cultural baggage and how maybe it was God’s intention to only displace them but maybe because of the times the Isrealites were in, with all the violence of other gods and peoples, they interpreted his commands a little differently than we would today.
I was talking with Sophie today about how, even if we use the same words, comunnication can be such a tricky thing. I was telling her about my good friend Suzanne and how different we are but we’ve been friends for a long time. We make sure we are aware of how different we are and try to communicate accordingly. There have been countless times that I have been offended at something she’s said because of how I interpreted it. And then she’ll ask me what I THOUGHT she said and, more often than not, be like, ‘Oh no! THIS is what I said.”
It’s a dangerous thing to assume we know people completely. Especially the ones who are most like us. We are constantly changing our perspectives, our tolerances, our minds.
If there is one thing I appreiciate most about this friend’s group, it is their hunger to understand. Each other and everyone they come into contact with. The more I get to know them the more I am overwhelmed by the beauty that radiates from them. Maybe this happens whenever you form strong connections with people.
“Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not yet born till they arrive.” -Anais Nin
There is a theme of people realizing how they are different and how they are not like others in the group and faulting themselves for it. Like Dan talking about how he never cries. Or me talking about how I always cry! The things we cannot help about ourselves, even in their purest form, leave us with a sense of not being in control. I think that is the main issue here.
When we see someone who is not like us in the very way we can be our best we envy the thing about them that would make us unlike who we are. Something that I try to do, though it doesn’t work half the time, is, when i actually catch myself thinking negatively about myself, in a way that isn’t productive, I try to think about things that are good inside of me. Ways I know I affect other people in a good way. Even different measures of success. Sometimes I can’t even think of one way I’ve been successful in my life, but I think it’s only because I discredit the things that I’ve put more work into because of my priorities and I believe people when they tell me in order to be considered successful I should own a car, a house, a husband, some kids, a career. And, I won’t say I don’t want those things, even if just to avoid semi-awkward conversations comparing things I don’t even have in commen with other people, but I do want those things, on some scale, because they represent structure and stability and respect and success in our culture. But not only for that reason, but some days that is my only reason.
There are so many pre-suppositions and unwritten rules just in living every day within a society. What we need to do, instead of assuming other people have the same cultural baggage as us, is seek to understand them instead of seeking understanding from them.