There is a strange climate afoot these days – one where assumptions are running rampant. It seems to be a season where it is okay to label, to only half listen, and to cast a wide net of opinion that goes well beyond issues and instead demeans the character of those with whom we may disagree. Worst of all, we feel the freedom to assume things about others based on actually knowing very little about them. I’m not talking about political candidates here as much as I am my brothers and sisters voting for them and the way we view one another based on how we engage in this process.
Assumptions are like a false start in a hundred yard dash. Once you hear the gun and realize that you are already ahead of the facts it’s just too late!
We impose ourselves on those around us via our own unresolved issues and insecurities. Assuming is looking at others through the lens of what we believe to be true about ourselves, and making judgments about them accordingly.
When we assume, we are filtering everything we think we know about a person, situation, or event through our own arrogant grid of experience.
I had dinner with an editor friend one evening not long ago. She lives in Boston. She is Catholic. She is a believer who happens to vote as a democrat. She recounted to me how every time she comes to Nashville she is bombarded by assumptions based on her political perspectives. She said that because she is a believer people assume she’s a republican. Or, they find out she’s a democrat and it calls all of her spiritual and doctrinal perspectives into question. Her quandary was how the south, conservative evangelicals, and the Christian subculture seem to have sewn so many things up in one neat little ball. While she understood the things that concerned conservatives she didn’t necessarily agree on how those things should be addressed politically and culturally as a social remedy.
In this season of election coverage at the forefront of just about every form of media we encounter, I want to encourage us to check ourselves when it comes to our assumptions. Everyone in the room may not be coming from the same place simply because we share the same Savior.
At the end of the day I believe that most of us would agree on things like taking car of the poor in our communities, not entering into wars hastily, and making sure that every human being is guaranteed equality under the law. I realize we don’t all agree on how to get there and that’s what makes America a wonderfully free and progressive place to live. We need the pushing and pulling and tugging on our opinions and ideas to make us think. It is okay to disagree. It is even okay to passionately disagree. However, I don’t believe that it is ever okay to assume that just because we think alike in one area that we will all think alike in every area. Such assumptions shut down and shut out those who might like to express another point of view.