I love being proven wrong. Seriously. As a chronic self evaluator I feel strongly that having our thoughts, beliefs and assumptions challenged is one of the easiest ways to grow, if we’re open to it. And that’s a big IF. In a culture where we seek out self and thought affirming information both in news and research, I know how scary it can be to step outside the echo chamber of one’s own Facebook page. The like-minded communities we tend to foster are comforting but they carry the risk of becoming so homogenous that we cease to be challenged.
I have spent most of my life in relatively (and often overtly) liberal cities, the culture of which have been mostly in line with my own. The southern cities I’ve lived in certainly have their own individual flavors, as do the northern ones. Anyone who paints with brushes as broad as “The South” or “The North” hasn’t spent enough time in both because this is a big country and we have a LOT of different people living here. And those people each have different motivations, unique lived experiences and when election time comes everyone gets the same number of votes. They don’t have equal opportunity to cast them, but that’s not the topic of this post.
This post is about smiling when you’re proven wrong. Mazel Tov to you! What a wonderful opportunity you’ve been given to broaden your experience of humanity. I have recently found myself spending the 8-5 in a brand new place with people who have customs, perspectives and a vernacular entirely foreign to me. And I’ve only traveled an hour from the safety of my current urban center. I’ve spent 22 of my 29 years below the Mason-Dixon and ain’t never met people like this before. They lend out medical equipment knowing patients will return it, they regularly offer to drive patients to outside appointments they can’t get to and they always ask how your mama or daddy is doing. Based on how many conversations I’ve had/heard about the Bible and Trump this week, I can all but guarantee we come from very different religious and political perspectives and how great is that? Because people are more than who they vote for or pray to.
Healthcare can be a unifying point for people working in or needing it, which makes it a good meeting place for otherwise polarized individuals. Being an eternal optimist (albeit a cynical one) I still believe we have more in common than not but too often we make assumptions about what other people think and why they think it. Some people are just selfish and some people are just racist but assuming these things about entire groups does nothing to foster mutual respect, without which we will never move the conversation forward.
People are more complex than a party platform and time is more effectively and enjoyably spent learning about them and letting them learn about you. This is the only way we break stereotypes, both our own and the ones others hold of us. So add small town Tennesseans to the list of things I was wrong about. Also on this list: olives, running, Sarah Silverman, Amy Poehler, hot yoga, anchovies and marriage. These are all wonderful.*
*Marriage is still pretty dumb, but I love Jared so much it makes the list.