On choosing differently….

People often ask the question, “If you could know everything about one thing, what would it be?” I’ve been asked that a lot. My answers tend to vary, but my standards are either dance or languages. I choose dance a lot because I love doing it and I love the way I feel when I’m dancing. Plus, because the Foxtrot is one of my favorites, I also get to listen to music I love while dancing. It’s pretty much a win-win situation.
Languages, however, has a much deeper meaning than simply “because I like it.” It has more to do with compassion and understanding that anything else.
The world is a big, fat, messed up place. There is absolutely no denying it. Despite all the wonderful things that happen all the time, there are just some really effed situations that are hard, impossible even, to ignore. And the reality, at least in my head, is that if we all just took the time to understand each other, things would be a lot different.
I hate the statement “War shouldn’t happen.” It’s stupid. Why? Because the world is a fallen, failing place. And because of that, because of selfishness and greed, fights – even to the extent of war – are going to happen. It’s because of that, that this statement is one of the most profound I’ve ever heard: Seek first not to be understood, but to understand.
There’s a deep lack of communication that permeates the world. I’m exhausted of my culture pushing its American agenda on the rest of the world. We’re a great country…I love my country. I really do. It’s just that our ideology and our way of life simply cannot work for everyone. It won’t. There are horrifying things that happen the world over. America is not immune from terrible acts of violence and disregard for its own people. We see it and hear about it all the time. So what right do we have to condemn and judge cultural behaviors around the world? No, we don’t kill women over acts of adultery; but look at how we’ve treated the GLBT community for decades…decades! How is it different?
The fact of the matter is that when we refuse to listen, to communicate, to simply understand, we fall apart. I heard a story recently that was chock full of atrocities…and also one of the simplest acts of compassion I may have ever heard: a bottle of water. I can’t, won’t, and shouldn’t go into great detail regarding the rest of the story; it’s not mine to tell. What I do know is this: when a young woman watches someone murder another person for no apparent reason, and then offers that same tired and thirsty person a drink from a bottle of water, it gives me hope. It restores, even if momentarily, my faith in the human spirit. We are capable of compassion and of understanding…we just have to choose it.
This is why I choose “languages.” I just want to sit and talk with people. I want to know people, to understand them…and I want them to know and understand me. It’s amazing what a little effort can do. I don’t want to push my agenda or have an agenda pushed on me…but maybe if we just took the time to understand the agenda, it would somehow become irrelevant.

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