Mario Batali was interviewed by Issie Lapowsky in an article that appeared in Inc. magazine’s June 2013 addition. When asked what his take on politics today are, Batali replied, “Right now, we’re very carefully defining our differences. We’re not very carefully defining our solutions.”
I see this as more than just a political answer. It is also true about the various cultures in America. Very few people are willing to befriend, or acquaint with others who think drastically different than they do. At best, we pretend that the other people do not exist until we are confronted by opposing views. Then we acknowledge them as being there but figure out the fastest way to move on, back into our comfort zone of thought and lifestyle choices.
I believe there could be several reasons at the heart of this problem, but I want to focus on solutions instead. After all, that is what Batali was talking about, right?
1. Don’t automatically assume that you know things about people based on what they are wearing, have tattooed on their body, style of hair they are sporting, or the number and type of piercings you can observe. If you find yourself staring at someone dressed in all black with a bull-ring in their nose, chains hanging from their pants, and their black hair is spiked in every direction then refrain from thinking much of anything about this person. If you truly are curious, then go talk to them and see who they are. Otherwise just let them be who they are and love them where they are at – even if you find out you disagree with them.
2. When you see a Muslim, Jew, Christian, Buddhist, etc… as identified by what they are wearing or a brief exchange of words that lets you know the person’s faith, please, please, please do not assume they are just like “….”. (fill in the blank for any stereotype you have about faith traditions). The bottom line is that each person owns their own faith, and if you want to stereo-type them, then at a minimum ask some qualifying questions to see if they meet up with what you believe about them already.
3. Recognize that morality is legislated regardless of your philosophical/religions views. We, as a nation, are never going to all agree on the laws that govern our land, or the policies that our congress makes. However, you cannot make people believe in your way of justice, freedom, rights, etc… through legislation. But every piece of legislation is in some way tied back to a moral principle about how we believe our society should operate. Two articles addressing this are here and here. So the solution is to keep dialogue open and try to convince those who oppose your view that your way is the right way. Realize though, at some point one of those views will become legally right (although legally right could still be morally wrong).
4. Question your faith, your science, your philosophy, your religion, those in positions of authority, etc… Prove to yourself that what you know is true and not just you wanting it to be true because it supports your way of life that you have always known or that is emotionally appealing to you. It does not mean that you are wrong, but without questioning yourself then you really cannot say whether you know something is true or not, at least from the standpoint of being able to persuade someone else that you are indeed correct.
5. Treat people who disagree with you as though they are someone that you love. As someone that you want to share your life with through the rest of your years on earth (not romantically, but in a humanity kind of way). True friends tell us when we mess up, but they do it in as gentle of a way as possible, and they are willing to stick with us for the long haul while we wrestle with our own demons. Instead of hating the atheist or desiring to see all Christian beheaded, recognize that neither viewpoint will ever go away. So get used to be surrounded by people who do not think like you think, and get loving and creative in how you can peaceably dialogue with each other.
Good night or good morning,
- 7 Questions for Restaurateur Mario Batali (inc.com)
- Can One Be Moral and Not Believe in God? (wordmagnet.wordpress.com)
- What is moral relativism? (altruistico.wordpress.com)