Yesterday I posted the Cats or Dogs survey. Did you have a strong immediate reaction one way or the other? Did you feel torn because you love both equally? Or were you a little irritated by the question because you just aren’t an animal lover? Or maybe you are a horse, snake, gerbil or fish lover and felt left out.
Do you find yourself experiencing the above about a person because of their pet preference? “Experts” who claim to identify certain personality differences and sometimes even character weaknesses in people based on what type of pets live with them. make it easier to judge others don’t they?
I am a proud “cat mom” living in a world of dog lovers. There seems to be no middle ground with cats. People either love them or hate them and wish them all dead. As as proud cat mom who would never say I “hate” dogs, when we first moved here I was a bit afraid of dogs. I was more than a little uncomfortable when a dog wanted to sniff me or heaven forbid started toward me at a full run. But over time I have come to know the dogs around here. I can even say some of our canine community (and their people) are my friends. And I hope at least a cat hater or two has learned to look past my choice of pet to see at least of little bit of who I am beyond all that.
There are other, more serious ways we judge others based on their personal choices aren’t there? Do you have a strong reaction or immediate judgement based on whether someone is (or you identify them as) liberal, conservative, evangelical, atheist, gay, straight, married, single, rich, poor or somewhere in between?
How often do you decide someone is a bad person, unworthy of getting to know, based on labels or personal preferences? Or perhaps you do know or even really like someone but have problems reconciling that with their labels or choices? Do you socialize with only like minded people, thinking that everyone agrees with you, ignoring those who don’t?
What would happen if you got to know someone beyond the differences? What if you took time to get the know the person, likes, dislikes, hobbies,, favorite foods, music, their ethnicity or skin color and the other stuff that makes them who they are? Do you think you could accept another with beliefs, lifestyles or ideas that you just cannot accept for yourself?
The example I started out with of dogs and cats seems kind of silly, doesn’t it? But bitter feuds have been known to go on for years over pets.
We all judge each other for many different reasons. It’s human nature. But when we begin to recognize it in ourselves we can being to change ourselves. If enough of us change ourselves we will change the world.
So go out there and say “hello.” You may find you are more alike than you are different. You may even make a friend.