While I just put in the first Swedish laundry of the year (isn’t it comforting how you know that, no matter how adventurous you’re trying to be, laundry will ALWAYS be there?) I’m reminiscing something Jeremy of Make Wealth History pointed out yesterday: “It’s easy for us to surround ourselves with voices that we agree with, filling our bookmarks and RSS readers with “all the news you choose”.”.
While in itself this statement could easily inspire a few truly philosophical posts, I would like to take it a step further, or better : a step closer to me.
I think you automatically surround yourself with people who have a more or less similar view on life. You will have similar opinions as your family since, well, you grew up with them, and you will choose your friends because you can relate to each other, because you feel you have something in common (I know this is not written in stone – I also have a… let’s call it… a slight disagreement… with my mother on the partner choice I’ve made). The – huge – mistake I make here is that I suppose that, if I agree with someone on one issue, they will undoubtedly agree with me on everything else also. We’re friends, right?
On several occasions, T has pointed out to me how the generalizations and assumptions I make often have no other base than “because I feel/see/think/know/… that it is such and so”. Any toes that don’t look like mine I consider “funny”, anyone who doesn’t share my love for cats (both the musical and the animal) is “weird”, and whoever has had higher education but still feels skeptical about climate change/has a different view on politics/doesn’t want to vaccinate their kids/… surely must have lost their minds (those who haven’t got a degree are forgiven because “they don’t know any better”). And while I knów – not even in the back of my head or somewhere in my perfectly normally shaped little toe, I am fully and consciously aware – that it is utter bull, I cannot help it: I compare the whole world to me, to what I experience as being “normal” and to what I know, feel, see, and smell. Unsurprisingly, I find this to be perfectly normal and I cannot understand T doesn’t do this. If I am to have an opinion about something, I can only draw from my own experiences to do so, right?
The issue is – it doesn’t stop there. I don’t only observe and conclude, I also judge. I will not say: “Your toes are different from mine.”, I will say: “You have funny toes because they are different from mine.”. It is a subtle difference which may or may not be disturbing if you’re discussing toe shapes, but it gets worse if you criticize a friend (behind her back, mind you) for deciding to be a stay-at-home-mum.
So lately I have been trying to be more… accepting? Accepting that other people may reach different conclusions based on the same premises, that I cannot possibly know all the reasons underlying their decisions, that people are simply different and – most importantly – that no value should be attributed to that. People aren’t “bad” for not installing solar panels despite having the financial means. Conversely, they don’t become “better” when they do. I should not forget that.