Believers and nonbelievers, redux

To complement John Scalzi’s Maxims for Non-Believers, a set of Maxims for Believers from Devin on Earth.

I remember once telling a friend I’d known since high scool, who had become an Ultraorthodox Jew and moved to Jerusalem even as I became more and more a Reform Jew, that all I asked was that she assume that I had come to my set of beliefs as carefully and thoughtfully as she had, and that my different beliefs were not the result of a failure to fully understand, but of having given matters some thought and having honestly come to different conclusions than she had.

She admitted she would love it if I did change my mind, but she also accepted this–as did I of her beliefs and her life, which didn’t always make any more sense to me than mine did to her. Maybe less, because she’d more or less lived my life at one time, and I hadn’t lived her.

But because we were able to start with that base of respect, a lot of really interesting and illumunating discussion resulted. I can’t speak for her, but I know I’ve learned a lot–not the sort of thing that shifted any of my beliefs, but the sort of things that kept me from quite so readily making generalizations about some of the beliefs that are different from mine.

It all comes back to listening to and respecting the people one is speaking with. Over and over again, that seems the lesson all we humans have to learn, myself included.

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