Friday, January 28, 2022
This week, after seeing a sunset where I was working, I thought of two of my friends who often post pictures of magnificent sunsets. One’s show the Sun melting into the Ouachita mountains of western Arkansas. While the other’s capture views of the Sun sinking beneath an almost black Pacific Ocean off Huntington Beach, California.
Typically, the California sunsets earn far more likes than the inland Arkansas shots. Both of my friends have similar numbers of followers; so, I don’t think it’s a follower thing. Both are super nice guys, so that’s not it either. I can only conclude that more traditional, Sun sliding into water shots are just more popular than Sun disappearing in some other place pics. After all, it was the very same Sun, engaged in the very same activity, at about the same exact time of day, shooting forth the same array of colors. There were no language barriers or other distinguishing features beyond the fact that one took place where we have been conditioned to see it and the other, well, not so much.
And so, one was likable, and the other wasn’t.
We can be funny like that. We routinely reject things for the only reason that we’ve been taught to. But often, most usually in fact, great value is found in that which we’ve been taught to dislike for no good reason.
And that’s the point for the week.
A friend of mine tells the story of a simple game being played among a group of leaders from all levels of a business. The goal is to solve a problem in the fastest time possible. He tells how a young, entry level manager shares an idea early on for solving the problem only to have his recommendation soundly disliked and rejected by the group. But when the CEO raises the same exact idea — which happens to be the solution — it is roundly loved, accepted, and implemented — solving the puzzle.
People aren’t born this way.
Prejudices are formed over time. They are mostly taught to us by others — often when we’re not paying attention and sometimes when we are. Here and there, these “teachers” trade in seemingly trivial biases — like against certain sunsets. More often, their obsession with difference is far more sinister. Like a company that believes that the colors of small candy covered pieces of chocolate should have even one thing to do with how we think about gender. Or a man who thinks that the color of one’s skin should have anything to do with whether or not they are chosen for a particular job.
People who see differences where there should be none do so mostly because they are afraid, or insecure, or self-obsessed, or just plain filled with hate.
Choosing the better part is a simple matter of acceptance and, moreover, of love.
In prejudice, we are taught not to accept. We’re told that our world will somehow become less good by letting those not like us into it. We’re taught that somehow our sunset becomes less beautiful if we see the beauty in someone else’s.
But those who choose to move beyond such pettiness — such sheer folly — have opened to them a wide new world of ideas, experiences and true wonder that never would have been available in a close-minded, head-of-a-pin universe that excludes others for their own protection or self-aggrandizement.
The most loving and accepting of leaders don’t see differences – in age, or gender or the skin color of tiny candies or that of human beings either. Instead, they see the wonder of human potential and the nearly unlimited possibilities that result when love is added to the mix. And for people like them, it matters not where the Sun is setting, because they’ve unlearned the part about not liking things for no good reason.
So, learn to like things for every good reason.
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Photo credit: Eric Goodman | https://newportbeachsunsets.com