When did being human become an inexcusable state?

Think about it. How often do we feel annoyed, irritated, frustrated, or mad at people for actions or decisions that we feel are substandard? Do we pause and consider what we might do in their shoes? And I don’t mean if we had a clear head, unlimited time, all the resources we need at our fingertips, and clarity of how things will turn out. I mean….do we put ourselves fully into others’ shoes before passing judgment? Do we try to fully understand ourselves and the pull or confusion we might feel if we were them? We have become so quick to judge others and why? What is the driver? What are the triggers? And how do we get past this national level strife that seems to have invaded our country?

“Think like the enemy” is a concept used in the military to help our personnel better recognize and understand the adversary while in combat. It is based on the idea that if you can better imagine the situation from their perspective, you will also be better able to anticipate their actions. But what if you apply that same principle to understanding your neighbor? Understanding how he or she thinks and feels may very well make it easier for you to understand why they say or do things different than you. But why would you bother to do this? Life is busy enough and frankly, feeling like we have all the answers is empowering and benefits the ego.

Unfortunately though, it weakens our society, our people, our education, economic, and political edge over our adversaries. We are a nation that depends on one another, not because we want to but because we have to. We all need roads and schools and banks and an economy that is stable. We need a defense force and a Government that feels empowered, enabled, and motivated to work for us. It is not necessary to agree with your neighbor, but it is to our country’s benefit if you can understand them and accept them. In doing so, you increase our ability to share and capitalize on the best ideas our nation’s people can produce. You increase the probability that workers will be focused on economic growth, rather than intra-fighting, and you improve our reputation globally – which, in turn, allows our Government to be more effective and our military to face fewer combat events.

Avoid surface level understanding of others – or your assumptions may be our downfall. As Machiavelli said:

“Everyone sees what you appear to be, few experience what you really are.”

Avoid this trap and along with it, empower our nation.

Photo credits:  Jose A. Thompson, GoaShape, Nick Beswick

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