We hear a lot today about our splintered society, resulting in the loss of community with friends, family, associates – especially with those who differ from us. People will say, "Well, it's always been that way," or, "It's because people are afraid to get into nasty arguments where nobody wins."
I believe such explanations are based on false assumptions. For instance, how can you change a societal status quo that’s so embedded in our psyches, like "This is just the way things are today." Or the false assumption that the goal of a challenging conversation is to change the other person's mind. Each side feels they are specially endowed with what is truth.
Here's what I think it will take to be released from these false assumptions: I call it "spiritual shapeshifting."
“Shapeshifting” is a common theme in mythology and folklore. It’s the ability to change one's being into that of another person, creature, gender, or species. A "spiritual shapeshifter" is one whose mind can shift into the perspective of another's mind in order to respectfully hear ideas, experiences, and feelings that differ from one's own. You walk in the shoes of another to better understand what has shaped them. It’s darn hard to do, but possible if one is serious about the importance of a strong and healthy society.
For next month’s Perspectives piece, I will elaborate on “spiritual shapeshifting” and offer some practical suggestions for how to do this.