A few weeks ago in The Race Problem series, I stated, “The willingness to engage other cultures and races is a step in the right direction as we navigate the race problem in this country or in your organization.”
I truly stand by that statement, but there is a way to go about that engagement. That way is to not be so easily offended.
When engaging someone of a different culture it makes sense to know that some things will be different. Some preferences, foods, tastes, music and opinions will be different. That’s okay. Don’t be so easily offended by those differences. Don’t get so caught up in who you are or your individual and cultural norms. Everything unlike you is not automatically offensive or threatening.
It’s hard to admit that we get offended or threatened by the mere fact of someone else’s existence. But consider this: how do people act when they get offended or feel threatened? They get defensive. They avoid that which, or who presents a threat to them. We do this every day. Think about the coworkers that you do not talk to, or that you do not sit with during your lunch break. Think about the family at church that you would never have over for dinner. Think about the students in your class that you never carry on casual conversations with. Just think about it.
I am not saying that you have to talk to everybody every day. I am not saying that you have to be friends with everyone. I AM SAYING that if you are going to intentionally engage someone who is different than you, there must be a preparation to continue your engagement through differences that you may process as offenses. Those differences may not even be anything that should be taken as an offense. They may just be—differences.
How will you be able to distinguish between the two? Start engaging someone different than you and soon you will be able to tell me.
Grace and peace.