Shades of Grey: Government, Religion, People

Some think that everything is black and white. I'm beginning to see everything as different shades of grey. Having worked with people in an increasing variety of ways the past 10 years, in a variety of occupational and volunteer scenarios, I've been exposed to many, many different ways of being, seeing, believing, working, and living. Is one way worse than the other? Is one person's beliefs worse than another? Is one person's ethics worse than another? For many of us, we will make judgements about others over these little things. We will close our eyes, our minds, and our hearts very easily over such trivial matters. We are raised in a family with a set of values and beliefs. We are schooled in a culture with a particular perspective on history, business, values, and beliefs. We are indoctrinated in our upbringing, or culture, or peers, and our heart, influenced to lean to certain truths that works for us. It can be steeped in peer pressure, family pressure, or simply having known no other truth we find it acceptable. When confronted with something vastly different or in opposition, we will tend towards defensiveness and even close-mindedness. I've been guilty of the same but I've really challenged myself time and again over the years to keep my mind open and to explore the other side of the tracks. I seek to understand and to experience for deeper understanding why other splinter groups live the way they do live; or work, play, worship, etc. While some things do work or resonate for me, others haven't. While some things expanded my horizons, others have caused other collapses in health or well-being. All have been worthy experiences, although possibly, at times, poor choices for my life. The worth that comes from this expansion of my mind and horizons has allowed me to witness one fundamental truth. As much as we are all different, with continued exposure to these varying influences of life and lifestyles, I have seen beyond the labels, beyond the stereotypes, beyond the religious beliefs, beyond the social status. I can look into the eyes and heart of my fellow-man and see another who is the same as me. The rest of it, is mere shades of grey. Each human being engages in a life-path, within a given set of life circumstances dictated by family, social status, and the rest of these external influences. As they progress down their path in life, they're doing the best that they can. They're looking for the things that will find them a sense of validation, satisfaction, being known, and being loved. They make decisions with these same influences dictating some of their choices; both right and wrong. We've all been there. And yet, instead of seeing our brothers and sisters in life, we still tend to see the differences. Yes, crimes are committed, hate is expressed, terror persists, and politics corrupt or engage in questionable practices. We perpetuate the classes, the differences, the hate, and the war. Judgement: why engage when you can disengage? Why argue when you can build bridges of understanding? Why declare war over differences when we can celebrate diversity? Why insist our way is the only way? I particularly declare this last questioning statement. We can celebrate freedom, responsible freedom. We can honor differences, diversity, by setting our own best example of tolerance, honor, respect, and in doing so, create peace.

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