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    A garden of red and yellow flowers


    By Joan Chittister

    August 10, 2017
    • Bob

      Good article. If we want to make a difference, we need to be different.

    • Clement Alu

      Behind this problem of sameness is the fear of being criticised and misunderstood. The world need the light to see in the correct direction.If we who have the message of light will shy away from speaking the right message, darkness will conitnue to cover the world.May the Lord grant us the courage to arise and shine. Our Lord Jesus Christ while on earth continued to speak out agai st the wrong practices of His days and was branded in the negative. May God help us to be true followers of Christ.

    • metin erdem

      God created the human with differences and perfectly among other living creatures. We need to respect and love each other if we have faith in God. Killing a person is the biggest sin in the law of God. Lets say no racism and lets learn to live together in brotherhood and peace of God.

    Of all things unacceptable to the human psyche, the notion of difference may well be among the most threatening. We learn sameness very early in life and find it hard to stray too far from its boundaries, however old we get, however much we think we’ve moved away from such thinking as time goes on.

    Sameness becomes a kind of security blanket that wraps us up in the warm feeling of being acceptable to the groups with which we identify and whose approval we seek. If we don’t stand out, we can’t be criticized. We are safe because we are just like everybody else. To be socially acceptable we have allowed ourselves to become socially invisible.

    It is an effective technique, a kind of chameleon approach to life, but it is neither psychologically mature nor spiritually healthy. 

    Somewhere along the line we must become who we are meant to be as individuals. We are persons put on earth to contribute to it as well as take from it. Otherwise we doom ourselves to live a life that is only partially alive. Most of all, we must allow others to do the same, as much for our sake as for theirs. It is in the development of our differences that we thrive, that we are gifted by the presence of the other. It is in our respect for the differences of others that we grow. “Sameness,” Petrarch wrote, “is the mother of disgust; variety the cure.”… 

    Differences not only teach us new ways of doing things; they also make us ask new questions of ourselves about what is really important in life, what really must have priority, and what is true happiness, success, and unity.

    Differences are a challenge to our small assumptions about the way the world really goes together. An American world, a white world, a male world, a Western world are all simply small slices of reality attempting to be the whole. Only respect for the Muslim veil, the Chinese smile, the African tribe, the South American campesino can stretch us beyond ourselves, beyond a political imperialism that sets out to corrupt whole peoples in the name of globalization and, in the end, deprives us of the richness of the world community.

    But that is the glorious burden of real Christianity: to follow the one who talked to Samaritan women and Roman soldiers, all the time allowing them to be who they were. Clearly, differences were not made to be homogenized; differences were made to be respected, to be honored, to be cherished.…

    It is only when we think against the mind of another that we find out what we ourselves really think.

    Going along, nodding yes to everything, keeping the norms, thinking by the rules never tests a concept; it only perpetuates it…. The truth is that it is only when we think against the mind of another that we find out what we ourselves really think, what we ourselves are willing to support. Anything else leaves us with colorless souls indeed. It is the sparks set off in us by the minds of those around us that fire our own. It is then that we become a real self. We become separate and connected at the same time. In the end, it is our relation to the ideas of the other that determines who we ourselves really are. To speak another truth, our own truth, our uniquely defined truth, however finished, however settled, is to confirm the value of our own existence.

    Division of opinion, too often the fault line of human relationships, is, when we embrace it openly, what invigorates thinking and stirs new thought. It is the ground of new beginnings, the beginning of new insight, the foundation of new respect for the other. If anything sharpens the dull edge of a relationship it is often when it ceases to be boringly predictable. It is when everybody on two continents knows what we are going to say next that we know we have stopped thinking. Then we need to have a few old ideas honed. We need to think through life all over again. “Of two possibilities,” my mother loved to tell me, “choose always the third.”

    Creativity, it is too often forgotten, comes out of differences. It is the ability to function outside the lines, beyond the dots, despite the boxes and the mental chains by which we have forever been constrained, that fits us to be the architects of the future. Instead, we want everyone to think alike when what we really need are people who are thinking newly – about theology, about God, about faith, about morality, about science, about life. “You won’t find this year’s birds in last year’s nests,” the proverb teaches, but we so easily miss the meaning of it entirely. Life is meant for moving on, the observation implies.…

    Being able to think differently from those around us and being able to function lovingly with people who think otherwise is the ultimate in human endeavor. It requires three things: a heart large enough to deal with conflict positively, enduringly, and kindly; a keen sense of personal purpose, the notion that there is something on the horizon that is worth debating; and a soul sensitive enough to transcend the tensions of the immediate for the sake of the quality of the future.

    Excerpt from Called to Community

    a garden of yellow, red, white, and purple flowers
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