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Sunday, February 16, 2014

A small but profound insight from the book, "Divergent"

Tonight I finished "Divergent," the first book in the newest Young Adult genre trilogy. Well-written, the book pulls you into a futuristic-dystopian Chicago in which society is divided into five "factions." The back story is that a war destroyed society, and when peace finally came the surviving population identified five traits that potentially caused them to fight one another: selfishness, dishonesty, cowardice, ignorance, and anger/dissension. To prevent another war, they divide the city into six sections, five of which adopt a manifesto while one is filled with those who've been kicked out of their "faction."

The faction that rejects selfishness is named "Abnegation." In their manifesto, they proclaim:
"I will war with others,
If I refuse to see them."

Profound. Simply profound. Think of the disagreements in your life. Whether they be within a friendship. Or a business relationship. Or even when evaluating politics. Our disagreements arise when we sit opposite someone who sees things through a different lens. Those who share our beliefs, preferences, politics, and opinions don't agitate us. We find a connection and sense of belonging when we discover common ground.

Does holding an opposite view require discord? No. Whether it be on the scale of my honey and I debating a social issue or two countries going to war, the reason for discord isn't disagreement. It's the failure to see the other person. It's circumscribing the other person, ideology, religion, or point of view through a backward lens.

We don't see without the filter of our own perspective, and that casts a shadow over so much of what we're trying to see. If, instead, we flip the lens to look at others without the constraints we believe people live within, we open ourselves to a deeper understanding of others. And a deeper understanding allows us to see them.

If we refuse to see them,
we will war with them.

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