Do you know what many fairy tales have in common? There is almost always a challenge. In Twelve Dancing Princesses, the King issues a challenge to find out where the princesses go at night. In the Princess Frog, the sons are challenged to find the best wife. In The Story of the Boy Who Went Forth to Learn Fear, he challenges himself to learn what real fear is. There’s a serious pattern going on. Just like these fairy tales, there is a challenge issued to us too. This challenge isn’t finding out where princesses go, which wife is the best, or what real fear is, this challenge is how we treat others in the face of opposition.
In high school I had these two friends. One loved steak burritos from Chipotle. They were like a drug to him. Another friend was a serious vegetarian or vegan. I don’t remember which, but I do remember she didn’t eat meat. She had PETA stickers so I’m leaning towards vegan. Anyway, everyday Burrito Boy would tease Veggie Girl about not eating meat. He didn’t do it in a mean way; he just quoted My Big Fat Greek Wedding “What do you mean you don’t eat no meat? That’s OK I make lamb.” And other similar things of that nature. Anyway Veggie Girl always met his teasing with calm responses. Finally one day she challenged Burrito Boy to go a week without meat. He didn’t last a day (those darn steak burritos).
We all have these issues. We all have our own values and code of ethics. It’s nearly impossible to live in this world without one. And here’s the thing about values, ethics, and opinions, not everyone agrees. We have all had the experience where our values have been challenged by someone else and we need to react. How do we react?
Very recently a person very dear to my told me that she was making choices contrary to my own personal code of morality. I could have reacted in a million different ways, but at that moment I realized a few things: 1) she was very aware of my values, that was why she felt like talking to me about it. 2) Her choices were her own, they weren’t my choices, but, captain obvious here, I’m not her. 3) Debate, no matter how civil doesn’t change hearts.
I told her that I knew she knew my personal view on her choices, I told her I also knew that I could share research studies, scriptures, and lists of reasons why her choice was wrong, but I understood that none of that would change her choice. I made a simple request that she not make that choice around my family. She agreed and we moved on.
In April, Jeffery R. Holland said “…the first great truth of all eternity is that God loves us with all of His heart, might, mind, and strength. That love is the foundation stone of eternity, and it should be the foundation stone of our daily life.” If I can truly see how Heavenly Father sees me, how He loves me, it becomes easier to see others how He sees them, and in turn, love them.
While discussing the words of Elder Holland, the thought was put out there that our actions are shaped by our desires. When you see someone’s choices, they are driven by our desires, why choose something that doesn’t get us what we want? I think the key to understand other’s choices isn’t their desires, because often those desires don’t make sense to us. The key to understanding other’s choices is the belief behind the desire.
Here’s an example: I desire to get healthy. Because I want to be healthy, I work out regularly and eat good foods. Why? Because I believe that through eating healthy meals and exercising daily, I can lose weight and be healthier. But all of that won’t work unless I also exercise self-control with sugary treats, drink lots of water, and be active all day.
Veggie Girl had a desire to not eat animals, why? Because she believed that eating them was bad. Burrito Boy didn’t believe that at all, he believed that animals were meant to be eaten. The girl I talked about who shared her choices with me admitted that she understood that her choices were not what my family and her family deemed as good. She even saw the bad of her choices, but she made them because she believed that they would make her happy.
I promote the idea that no one wakes up in the morning and says “I believe that doing X will make me miserable, Let’s do it!” The believe behind the desire (behind the action) is that it will make that person happy.
The next layer of this is how we react to those making “those choices”. Ten minutes on Facebook will show the state of people and their choices. We live in a time where you cannot say certain phrases without the trolls rushing from underneath their bridges and club people for saying something contrary. You cannot speak without the broomsticks flying, the bats diving, and the banshees howling. But why on earth would you want to be a troll, a witch, a bat, or a banshee? What is the desire behind that action? The desire is to change others to their point of view, to change their actions, desires, and believes.
Can I tell all you trolls, witches, bats, and banshees a secret? You cannot logic, emotion, scream, empirical study, scripture, or any other form of communication someone from that belief. The only way to change anyone’s point of view is to genuinely love and listen to them. Respecting others as people, as children of God, that is what changes hearts.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t encourage change. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t promote your morals, your beliefs, or your views. It means that we need to love each other how Christ showed love to all those around him. He didn’t say “I love you so you can make bad choices” He said “Go and sin no more” he wanted others to change. He taught love (sometimes it was tough love).
The thing we all need to understand is that the depth of our experiences we’re having day to day will and a large and vital impact on our eternity, this includes our choices. My belief is that if remember why we are here and where we are going, we can make the choices that lead us to happiness.
How do you handle people who have different views than you?