I feel like lately, I’ve been more open to other opinions, other ways of looking at things. I’ve been challenged by things I’ve read, people I’ve met, and videos I’ve watched. It’s not anything specific, but this feeling of becoming more of an adult by being able to see a perspective outside of what I grew up in.
I love how I grew up, though, and I still follow the teachings of my parents in almost complete entirety. But we always grow up in a specific culture that isn’t necessarily about right or wrong. I grew up in a very strong culture that at the time seemed incredibly normal–but it wasn’t really. I don’t think normal culture exists; there are things we just get used to.
Where I grew up (not far from BYU), basically everyone was Mormon. Culture revolved around church. But the culture of that area is not the same as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and its doctrines and teachings (thank goodness). Culture is a separate thing entirely, where we get this sense of normalcy and we choose to ignore things outside and different.
Everyone gets in their own culture and everyone’s culture, in a way, is wrong–but not because it is bad, it just doesn’t show the whole picture of the world and what it is.
I moved away a little bit from that culture, first to Nevada and then to Wyoming. Things were subtly different, not overtly–I didn’t go that far. I’ve had friends from all sorts of different places with all sorts of different beliefs–some of different religion than my own, some of the same religion and yet we still have hugely different viewpoints about a lot of the world.
I also have the internet, and I like to read. And I’ve read a lot of articles that sometimes made me feel–I want to say uncomfortable, because that’s how it felt at first, but it also sort of challenged me. And that can be a good thing. It challenged me to look back on what I believe or assumed I believed and really think through it and make changes as was necessary.
I’m not saying you should necessarily seek out people or things that argue against what you believe, because I haven’t–you don’t want to tear yourself up, and frankly, you have a choice to believe what you want to. If you want to believe something, to have faith in that, you shouldn’t let people pull you away from that in an antagonizing, mean way. But I think there is something to exploring and understanding people who do have different views than we do–it’s not a quest to change what you believe as much as a quest to understand people who are different so that you more fully know where you stand.
We can realize the world is bigger than we think, and reasonable people have all different sorts of opinions and viewpoints and a lot of it comes from how they were raised or their own experiences or their own culture–and that you can actually come to understand them instead of simply condemn them under the umbrella of, “I don’t understand it, so it can’t be true.”
There is definitely right and wrong, but sometimes we are too eager to condemn.
Sometimes looking at a bigger picture does change what you believe. But I feel like my fundamental beliefs are the same, actually. They haven’t changed. What has changed is my ability to listen. I feel like my faith has increased because I know where I stand in a bigger picture of the world. I know deeply what I see as right and wrong even when it is unpopular.
And I can understand better people who do think I’m wrong. I don’t want to argue as much, because I see where they are coming from. That can be a scary thing, but yet I feel it’s allowed me to be more compassionate. I want to encourage and share what I believe and where I’m coming from, but I can do that in respectful way because I understand the world a little bit better.
It’s still a process. But it’s okay if you don’t have the same views as I do. We should feel more willing to talk–and by talking, sometimes I just mean listening. That you don’t have to believe what I believe, but we can both be respectful of each other.
There are so many beliefs and opinions that aren’t necessarily right or wrong–there are gray areas. Political beliefs, for example, can be so polarizing, and yet politics has never been so much about good versus evil as much as lots of people muddling through and trying to make things work without having a clue of any perfect answer.
So what am I suggesting? That next time you hear something that makes you angry or even uncomfortable, you don’t run away from it right away, or put up your guard right away, but you listen for a minute. You remember what you believe, what you choose, what your faith is. You try to see where someone else is coming from. You don’t be afraid of understanding them, because that doesn’t have to change what you believe. But if it does change what you believe, or at least it pushes it a little bit on the edges, that’s okay. That there is so much out there that you don’t understand and you can know that without being afraid of it. You become more solid in your faith and your beliefs and at the same time. And more aware that you just don’t know everything.