It seems incredible to me that, during one of the most joyous holiday seasons of the year, judgment and divisiveness surround two popular holiday songs, Baby it’s cold outside and Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer.
I understand that people have different perspectives on these songs and those perspectives are often directed by their personal experiences. What I don’t understand is why people feel they have the right to impose their perspectives on others.
What makes them feel that they are the final authority on whether or not someone should be able to listen to the song? It’s this attitude, this judgment, about what’s right or wrong, good or bad, that leads to divisiveness.
The key to avoiding divisiveness, and the inherent anger and frustration it engenders, is to suspend judgment. We do that by respecting others’ rights to their opinions.
Regardless of my opinion about these songs, if I respect others’ rights to their opinions I don’t prevent them from listening if they so desire or switching stations if they don’t. I don’t interfere with their right to buy the album or forego the purchase.
The simple act of respecting others’ opinions allows you to remain true to your values while respecting others’ rights to theirs. It avoids the divisiveness that creates ill will and destroys long-standing relationships.
Stress and frustration are the byproducts of failed attempts to prove to others that we’re right and they’re wrong. These negative emotions are avoided when we respect others’ rights to their opinions. Finally, suspending judgment leaves the door open to future collaborations and the joys they afford.
If you’re looking for an example of the dysfunction that judgement creates, simply recall the frustration you feel because our congressional leaders’ divisiveness.
For our kids
Teach the kids in your life that it’s okay to have an opinion. It’s not okay to demand that others embrace that opinion or living according to it. Each of us has a right to make our own choices and our kids need to learn to respect that right. Especially if they want others to respect theirs.
This simple lesson will enable them to avoid the unpleasantness, anger and frustration that judgment creates. Instead, they’ll enjoy living their values and the friendships of those who think differently than they do.