...and leave the rest.
This is a common phrase I hear (and say) in a group to which I belong. The premise is, of course, that you might just hear something someone says that you don't agree with (insert loud gasp of shock and amazement). But what if, instead of arguing about who is right and who is wrong, we simply allowed everyone to speak what they believe is good or right for them, and let the rest go? It seems that 12 step groups have that phenomenon down pat. Why can't the rest of the world try that on for size? The Indigo Girls put out a song many moons ago that contained the line, "Everything that I believe is wrong with you is wrong with me." What does that mean? For me, it means that when I am criticizing someone's belief about politics, religion, the "right" airline or hotel to use, the "right" coffee shop to frequent (my Nextdoor app was going CRAZY about coffee this morning, which I found to be amusing because I don't care for coffee, anyway----want to swordfight about that??), etc., others are very likely critiquing my critique. So, what to do? In social situations, I have learned that the phrase "You might be right" or "Hmmm...that's an interesting perspective I hadn't considered" works great. I truly believe that if I step out onto the proverbial dance floor with the crazy-making opinions, I am doing precisely what I am criticizing other people for doing. And yet...I still get swept up by the music, sometimes, and want to jump out onto the dance floor. For what? Do I really believe that all my words of wisdom are going to change someone's mind about whether or not to get vaccinated or whether they should fly ABC airline? No more than someone is going to change my mind. But I have learned (through a protocol we tried at church a couple of years ago called "For God's Sake, Listen!") to listen to someone else's point of view, and while I don't have to agree with it, I can certainly consider it and where they are coming from.
Why can't we all just get along??, I wonder. But even that very question seems fraught with controversy when people talk about its possible "origin". Here's what I do know. I am truly a hodgepodge of every person with whom I have been blessed to have in my life. I love Chinese food because my closest friends in college "made" me try it for the first time our freshman year, despite my protests. I love musicals because my high school choir friends and I would use the songs from the current musicals of the time in order to audition for the drama department's musicals. I love Labrador Retrievers because Dave and I pored over books about dog breeds when we first got married before deciding on a breed that would change the course of our lives forever. I adore James Taylor and Kenny Rankin because my mother and I listened to their albums when I was in middle school and high school. I likely do not have many "original" likes/dislikes/thoughts. Most of them have surely come from somewhere or someone whose path I encountered. But what if I would have said, "I will never eat hot and sour soup. That sounds nasty"? I would have missed out on so much goodness.
Even with workshops I teach to teachers, school leaders, professors, and my own graduate students, I find myself saying, "If you take nothing else with you from today, I hope you will remember this nugget...." And I hear, sometimes, that they did remember that nugget, and it makes me happy. All I have to do is show some willingness to listen and learn from others, and I might very likely grow in my own wisdom. And if something really gets under my skin? It is likely something I need to take special attention to, as it is likely something that is going to teach me a lesson down my own spiritual journey.
Just for today, consider what you nod your head to and what you vehemently shake your head at. Perhaps you might consider taking what you like and leaving the rest.