Unfamiliar

In respect to the unfamiliar, people tend to be moved by preconceived notions and prejudices alone. People tend not to engage with what is real, but with what they think to be so, projecting their own perceptions onto the subject. Long-held views, deeply ingrained, are not easily challenged by facts: it must be the facts that are faulty, not the understanding.

We have all encountered this through our lives. We have probably all been guilty of it too. I have certainly had my own understanding of events, which could only be shaken when presented with information that cast doubt on everything I thought to be so. So too have I been forced to reinterpret past interactions in light of my increased understanding of my self, and the impact of factors of character and form I wasn’t even cognisant of at the time.

And so too for others. When I was introduced to my beloved two decades ago, my parents and siblings held that I was having my marriage arranged for me. It was a forgone conclusion, they believed, witnessing our rapid decision to marry, so soon after meeting. It’s true that our union was unusual by modern western standards, but arranged for us? Nope, merely facilitated by mutual friends who thought to bring two souls together.

Through the years, I have experienced so many assumptions based on mistaken understandings of the tradition I follow. I can’t necessarily say I blame others. At school, I only learnt of one religious tradition, that being Anglican Christianity. The only reason I initially learnt anything of other traditions was because I was trying to make sense of events that effected me personally. But most people, I suspect, don’t have that drive and will gladly go through life oblivious to the world beyond their front door.

If you’re going to learn anything of the way of life of the other, you have to have a personal reason for doing so. Perhaps that’s a passion that comes from within. Perhaps it’s a desire to understand one’s neighbours. Perhaps it’s a yearning to turn your life around. Perhaps a need to understand the past. Whatever the impetus, these are all good first steps. It’s good to acquaint yourself with the unfamiliar. Believe me: I know.

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