Do you believe in Parallel Universes? I do. You would say yes if you think about it.
I pipe in relaxing music when I’m getting a room ready for a speaking or training session. This time I played a friend’s rendition of Pachelbel Canon in D with ocean sounds in the background. Harmless, right? Wrong.
A student walked into the room earlier than everyone else. When the crashing of the waves and the music caught her attention, she went pale. She asked if I could please change the music. I did and asked why. Her friend had been lost at sea during the Japan Tsunami. Ocean sounds made her sad. The woman who walked in next noticed I had changed the music and said, “Oh Thank God. I HATE that song! I walked down the aisle to that and my divorce is thankfully almost over!”
In my world, that’s a soothing song and I play it as I fall asleep every night. Oh well!
Deep in thought about these differences, I passed a bowling alley on the way home. The bowling league members live in that universe. The noise and culture of that space is comforting to them.
They may inhabit other worlds as well, but it’s familiar ground, a gathering place. A place where they know friends will be.
The same goes with the golf course down the road. The Golf Club universe has its own culture, behaviors, expectations, dress codes, limitations, ideas and rules about what’s important and what isn’t. Churches are the same. Clubs and groups of any kind can become insulated in their own activities and norms.
We become who we hang out with. We buy into the cultural norms of that group and often don’t question those norms. We peer out of our little comfort zones at worlds beyond ours and make things up about them, much like people of old made up stories about what was over the horizon, where the water fell off the edge of the earth.
We think we know. We think the internet
has made us “global” and “more aware.” Not so much. We are still stuck in our little worlds, often convinced our way is the right way and “the others” are wrong, misguided or at the very least, missing out.
We know this attitude prevails from some of the unkind comments that litter sites like YouTube. We have rules telling us we can’t call this race or this group by this nickname, yet the words “hillbilly” and “birther” and “warmther” are tossed about with abandon. The air is thick with judgment about “the other” and we seem further away today from figuring it out than we were a few internet-free, innocent decades ago.
There really is only one solution: EXPOSURE
The word “racist” is tossed about with abandon these days. Rules on top of rules on top of laws on top of legislation have been thrown at the problem. But there is really only one solution. EXPOSURE. When we let down our guard, go into that strange world and just listen, we will discover that we really aren’t all that different. It’s been 6 years since I first blogged about this, and the recommendation still stands.
Get out of your comfort zone. Go do something different. Go visit a different world right in your own back yard. Take a class in something new. Meet people from the other side of your universe and hopefully you’ll walk away enlightened and a little less interested in seeing them as so different from you. The only rule is this: take off the judgment jacket and go in with an open mind. You might learn something!
Here’s To a GREAT 2014!
© 2014 Beth Terry, CSP • All International Rights Reserved