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Universality and the Lack Thereof

I'm about to say something that has been said a million million times before- America is really divided right now.

Okay, hear me out. I know I'm just another voice in a sea of voices, a face in a sea of faces turned to the sky, openmouthed, desparate and calling for the sun. But, whichever side you're on of whichever argument you chose, you can't deny it- we are divided. On everything.

This is just precipitated by things like Facebook. We follow what we like, Like what we agree on, and have Timelines filled to the brim with stuff we agree with. If not- just delete it. We are in echo chambers, hearing the same words we just screamed into the void, over and over until they're etched in like truth. What if they're not true? Hvae you stopped to examine the words and articles you share? yeah, neither have I. Who has the time? (Actually everyone.) If you're not already aware you're in a bubble, well, I hope I just popped it.

I just want you to hear this one thing- your experience is not universal.

There are billions of humans on this earth, more and more every day. No one has the same experiences or personality or memories or body. Every soul and every body are unique, even when they're similar. You can't apply your personal history to everyone else's situations. That's an error called "ethnocentricism" in sociology: viewing other cultures through the metaphorical lens of your own culture.

Don't worry, I'm not pretending I'm the only one who's aware of this. I forget so often the words of Atticus Finch- "if you can learn a simple trick, Scout, you'll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view […] until you climb into his skin and walk around in it." (3.85-87)

How often do we shed our skin? Certainly much less than we should. We could learn a thing or two from lizards: "All lizards grow continuously throughout their lives. However, their skin doesn't grow to accommodate their changing size, so they must shed their skin regularly to allow for proper growth." (http://www.drsfostersmith.com/pic/article.cfm?aid=2483) All humans constantly grow, too. Need I explain the metaphor?

In James 1:19, he says "My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry." Does that sound like our world today? (hint: no.)

No matter how much you want to tell everyone why you don't feel such and such a way, listen to why the other person does. Just because you don't experience a certain kind of prejudice doesn't mean that prejudice doesn't exist. Once again I say it: your experience is not universal. You are not the standard by which everyone lives their life. There is no standard.

The Bible says a lot about judging, but I'm going to try to keep it concise while remaining in context. "You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. So when you, a mere human being, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment?" (Romans2:1-3, emphasis added)

We all become a little blind when we look at our own faults, but very hawk-eyed when looking at others. This isn't a new thing, and the message is the same- look at yourself before judging others. (However, keep in mind that these verses include that God's judgment is based on truth- there is a true and accurate judgment out there. It just isn't yours to make.)

We all need to look at both oursleves and the world around us with clear, wide-open eyes. As the old adage goes, humility isn't thinking less of yourself, it's thinking of yourself less. Trust me, Facebook (and other social media) being one-sided is definitely a pride issue.

We are too proud to admit that there may be truth in other perspectives. We are too proud to admit that we need to care about other people's experiences and hearts. We are too proud to see ourselves in our enemies. 

Communication has been reduced to posting our opinions and waiting to be liked, but let me remind you that communication is all about what's understood, not what you wanted to say. Listening and comprehending genuinely are the marks of true communication. Reach across your divides, America. Communicate fairly and without undue judgment. Don't use yourself as a standard of understanding someone else; they are someone else. 

Diversity is one of the only things that is truly universal. Isn't that beautiful?

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Dear survivor:

Before anything else, I want to tell you your trauma is valid. Even if you don't have bruises or scars and you feel like you don't have "proof." Even if you were only with them for a short time. Even if you feel like it was your fault and you had your chance to leave. You are not crazy or complaining for being honest about your trauma.

You are not the only one who feels this way. You are not alone in your confusion, frustration, and pain.

It may take you a long time to recognize that you were abused. It may take years. That doesn't mean you're making it up. It may take several therapists to properly deal with your residual feelings. That doesn't mean you're being too dramatic.

Someday, you might find yourself doing things that your abuser used to do, and you start to panic and think "I'm turning into him/her." You're not. You're not like them. You're a survivor and you can change those behaviors and be better.