We don’t live in the same world as others, so we behave differently.
Not quite two decades ago, my eldest son was about nine and we were returning home from a Scout meeting. It was dark, and we lived near the end of a long stretch of street that was not heavily trafficked. As young ones sometimes do, he feared we were being followed as the car behind us matched our moves, turn for turn. I watched in the mirror but only said, “We’ll see.”
At the second-to-last street, we turned right and the other car continued on. The young observer said, “Dad, when I said we were being followed, you kept going, but when mom thinks she is being followed, she drives a crazy way home to find out. Does that mean mom is a coward?” I said, “Not at all. But it is great that you noticed. If I’m being followed, we’ll figure it out and work it out. But mom has to figure out how to protect you differently, and there are worse things someone could do to her than to me. She has to look at all the conditions differently. But, if you remember that men and women don’t necessarily live in the same world of options, you’ll be way ahead.”
Whether our differences are age, ethnicity, wealth, geography or gender, our varied experiences influence our decisions and actions. It serves us well to notice the differences and seek understanding. We’ve all likely heard the expression about “walking a mile in other’s shoes.” There are many ways to see these differences in others, and the challenge is to try to understand before judging. Sometimes it pays to ask the question, if only of yourself.