Strange bedfellows?

There are a lot of people out there who (whether they admit it or not…) operate under the principle that because I am in group A and you are in group B we can’t associate with each other. Not only is this false but it is dangerously false!

We’re not all the same. It’s a given, just accept it. But, the fact that we’re not all the same doesn’t mean that we can’t share values and beliefs.

Here are a couple of examples:

First example

Last Sunday the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints announced that they were going to build a temple here in the town I live in. Naturally the LDS community here was thrilled. And, sadly, some of their neighbors were angry…

Several people have made comments that the building will be an eyesore. Others claimed that the Mormons were going to invade and take over…

But then there was the reaction from some prominent individuals in the Muslim community…

The Muslims welcomed the announcement of the LDS temple!

Now the LDS church is not the same thing as Islam, but these influential Muslim leaders were able to recognize the announcement as proof of a continuing, and growing, faith in God in the community. Both groups have some intolerant and outspoken members (to say the least), but both groups also value faith in God and family values.

The prominent Muslims in our community were able to recognize the event as one that built on common values and goals. (And for the ‘take over’ people: I believe the LDS community is already over 50% of the community, so it ain’t exactly an ‘invasion’… For the eyesore crowd: I’ve heard it before… And every time it’s been said (in my presence at least) the new temple sent property values UP

Second example

Down in Florida there was a guy who shot up a nightclub…

The clientele of the nightclub happened to be largely homosexual. The shooter claimed he did it because they offended his religious beliefs…

Most of us who’ve seen the news remember something about the event…

Do you remember what those ‘rednecks’ down at a local gun shop said?

The owner of the shop, and the community around it welcomed the local homosexual community in…

Now, this event was painted by some as a marketing stunt by a notoriously conservative and intolerant community, but…

Knowing the community around my own local gun shop, knowing enthusiasts of a variety of colors, creeds and political loyalties, I can also see the level where it was an honest offer.

At least at the gun shop I go to community would rather see people have the freedom to choose and live their lives than see the reign of intolerant idiots who would kill you for disagreeing with them. They are willing to stand with and defend those who they might not wholly agree with because they do believe in the freedom to choose, they do believe in people and the rights that they are given under the U.S. constitution including the right to believe as they wish and seek happiness as they understand it. (Again: at least where I go…) They do not and will not support those who would seek to oppress others by force of arms.

The point of it all…

The point is, just because I happen to be part of group A and you are part of group B, that doesn’t mean that we can’t work together when our goals values are the same. True, I might not agree with the Muslim down the street about the precise book of scripture, but in terms of valuing family and having faith in God, we kind of agree. That is something to build on, not something to run from.

True, I may be heterosexual and the neighbor may be homosexual, but that doesn’t preclude us from having the same concerns about a wave of break-ins in the neighborhood, or not wanting a meth lab across the street, or wanting good paying jobs in our community, or…

When we build on common bonds and values we grow. We also hold out the possibility that those we disagree with may eventually come to agree with us on other things (or we may come to agree with them as we learn…). If we let differences that don’t matter overshadow the things that do, we’re really cutting ourselves off from the good that we could share.

That’s it for this one dear reader. Until next time…

Find some points of agreement!

Media, Star Wars and Human Behavior

As I mentioned in my last post, I spent a good deal of the last month dealing with a family reunion and some other business. That experience has helped heighten my understanding of parts of human behavior…

The trip, among other things, has really highlighted the fact that different people pick up on, and form their opinions based on, different features of an event. This leads to interesting confrontations and issues; like the family member who will argue that a person’s faith in god can be determined by whether or not he/she will willingly walk into a casino…

The Media…

This also factors into certain media behavior. There are psychological principles about how and when to present data that effect which features of a story will be picked up on. Persons in the media may choose to report on the race or profession of a crime victim while downplaying other details. This happens in both fiction media, and the ‘non-fiction’ media that we call news media (Note I’m not taking sides on which news media…).

Certain aspects of things will be picked up and noted. This depends on both what the people creating a program or story choose to emphasize and the interests and biases of the people watching/listening

The Star Wars…

A great example of all this happened on the trip when my stepfather, my wife, and I watched Star Wars Episode VII.

My  step father, who is a movie buff, described the movie as “OK”.

My wife, who’s been talking to me about writing way too much, immediately locked onto the character development. Maybe I should say she locked onto the lack of character development…

Myself, I never really got as far as character development. I was stuck on the level of counting references and beats borrowed from other movies.

Three reasonably intelligent people with experience in the genre came up with three different opinions based on three different sets of ‘facts’ from one data pool (the movie).

The situation deepened after we got home… For those who haven’t seen the movie yet there is a new ‘big bad’ in the film known as Snoke. There is also a whole legion of internet theories about who ‘Snoke’ actually is. Candidates include Darth Plagueis, Darth Sidious, Darth Vader, one of the younglings from the Jedi Academy, Luke Skywalker. Leia, Bobafett, and Jar Jar Binks (both as himself and as a reincarnation of one of the ‘Darths’).

All of the conclusions are drown from information in the movie (pictures and bits of sound) to which are added bits of background knowledge and the personal opinons of the individual.

My theory of ‘Snoke’…

Now… lets make this clear at the start; I am doing this as an example of behavior. This is not a genuine theory of who ‘Snoke’ is!

There is really one obvious ‘true’ answer to who Snoke is…

Snoke is Abraham Lincoln.

It’s all pretty obvious.

Snoke is tall (at least the projected image of him is). Lincoln was also tall.

Snoke is some kind of of dark side master (Sith or otherwise). Any time we talk about masters of The Force sooner or later somebody brings up temples. the Lincoln Memorial is somewhere people go when they have a crisis of faith. That is also a definition of a temple.

Snoke is shown sitting in a big, throne like, chair. The statue of Lincoln in the Lincoln Memorial shows him sitting in a similar chair.

There it is: Tall, Temple, Chair… The answer is obvious: Snoke is Lincoln!

Actual Conclusions…

In reality I have no idea who ‘Snoke’ is (that’s another writers problem!). My point is that it is pretty easy to jump to conclusions based on a few details without really thinking and learning. We need to do better than that.

We need to avoid building an opinion based on a few details and then rejecting any contrary information. That’s called confirmation bias and it manages to get people into a lot of trouble.

It gets us in trouble when we have the actual experience and facts to go on. It really gets us into trouble if we rely on other people to ‘pre filter’ the facts for us.

Getting the wrong conclusion on who ‘Snoke’ is probably won’t cause any major harm. But doing the same thing with real people and real life can (especially in an election year).

That’s it for this one dear reader. Until next time…

Learn for yourself…

then decide!