I was listening to the most recent “My Brother, My Brother, and Me” podcast and found myself feeling a little surprised. For those of you that don’t know, “My Brother, My Brother, and Me” (or MBMBM, pronounced ‘MuhBimBam’) is a podcast hosted by three brothers and they call it ‘an advice podcast for the modern era’, but they rarely actually give advice. Instead, they take the questions they are sent and use them as a catalyst for comedic discussions. Anyway, in the most recent podcast, they actually provided some wisdom that I’ve found myself thinking about a lot ever since.
The question they were sent is pretty irrelevant, but the advice they gave was to “Respect the journey of other people”. This advice was really two-fold. First, if what someone else is doing isn’t directly harming you then you really shouldn’t worry about it. Is someone wearing a weird shirt? Are they brushing their teeth while in a public bathroom? Do they have a whole lot of sex? Are they Mormon? It doesn’t matter… just let them live there life. Respect their journey.
Secondly, try and put yourself in their shoes, but move beyond trying to figure out how you would feel at that exact moment. Instead, try to figure out what logical things in their life lead them to that moment and try and realize that you would act in a very similar way if you grew up in the same home, had the same bad day, read the same books, were exposed to the same experiences, etc. We aren’t that different. Trying to imagine what life would have to throw at us for us to act differently can really increase our empathy for others, which is particularly important in our current era.
What life would you have to live to have a different opinion of Trump? Or support/oppose gun control? Or believe in God? It is easy to just say someone is illogical or stupid, but that gets us nowhere. That dehumanizes people we disagree with, it turns them into people to be pitied at best or hated at worst (either way, it justifies ignoring them instead of treating them with love, understanding, and respect).
We are all doing the best we can and have very similar goals in life. We want a safe place to live, an opportunity for prosperity for our loved ones, and good health. Our methods may vary based on our understanding of how the world works (or should work), but our goals are generally the same. So, before we hate Trump supporters maybe we should try and understand why someone would think Trump is the best option to lead the country and why his proposed policies are going to provide a safer, better world. Similarly, those who worry about gun control or illegal immigration should try and understand why supporters of those things think that they would create a safer, better world (and why someone would break the law to cross a border… the odds are they are doing it for their family, and wouldn’t we all break laws to provide food and shelter for our loved ones?)
Basically, respect others journies and maybe try and understand how they ended up on that journey to begin with.