Meet me, the otherizer

It can be painful when you realize that you’ve otherized someone, especially when that someone is a friend.  And it’s humbling when you come clean to them about how you’ve otherized them.

I felt sad for Jess and the way that I hurt her.  And I felt exposed and ashamed of myself.  After all, I should know better.  I’m listening to people’s stories and writing about otherizing and I’m otherizing someone at the same time.

As a friend kindly pointed out, this is hypocrisy.  Yet it’s nearly impossible to avoid. Viewing someone as “the other” comes naturally if you are part of “the norm.”

While this blog is in part to help nudge you, as a reader, it’s also for me.

Because I need nudging too.

I’m not content leaving individuals and groups in the boxes I’ve put them in.  The only way to combat this is to make the effort to get to know someone that is different than ourselves.

This is not about making someone you view as an “other” your personal project or charity case for self-improvement.

It’s caring enough about another person that you want to listen and learn from them because they matter.  It’s being willing to ask questions without feeling the need to insert your opinion in response to what they share.  And it’s about accepting and loving them – even if you don’t agree.  {Is there anyone you agree with 100%?}

One of my favorite authors says it this way:  “Tolerance that tolerates only people who think like us is not tolerance.  It is covert prejudice, scorn with a mask of niceness.”  

Any real change is often gradual.  We can’t rush this.  People are complicated and relationships are messy.

And that’s OK.

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