Understand – Verb
perceive the intended meaning of (words, a language, or speaker)
Perceive – verb
interpret or look on (someone or something) in a particular way; regard as
interpret – verb
explain the meaning of (information, words, or actions).
If you take the time to type each of those definitions into Google, you will find that usually one of the definitions (there are usually 2) references one of the other words, which is very unhelpful.
As you drill down though, you see that understanding is an action that requires effort on your behalf that is supposed to help you know why something happens, how it happens or in the case of ideas, what someone is trying to explain to you.
Understanding is something that takes time. It is a process and is very difficult in today’s instant gratification society. We don’t take the time to explain things that we believe to others and we take even less time understanding what other people are trying to explain to us. One reason could be that we don’t actually have very well developed beliefs ourselves. Try a small thought experiment for me. Try to answer this question “My beliefs on homosexuality are….” Try to think beyond the “It’s wrong.” or “I agree with it.” Why do you think those things?” What other questions can you ask yourself about it? Do you support homosexual couples passing on their inheritance to each other after they die? Do you support homosexual couples being able to adopt children? Do you support homosexual couples having the right to having messy divorces when they decide it won’t work, much like many heterosexual couples these days? What is your definition of a marriage? Is it a spiritual bond? Is it a legal entity?
I’ll continue this thought later in the article.
In order for me (or anyone else) to determine if I am actually for or against your viewpoints, on anything, I need to understand your beliefs. I need to understand what drives you. This can only happen with discussion and usually pointed, deliberate, tough conversation. It is not always fun and often it gets cut short when people find a point they disagree on, or think they disagree on.
The problem is we each perceive the intended meaning of many things when we hear a word. I will explain my perceptions or what I think other’s erroneous perceptions are of 3 topics below.
When I hear the word feminism I automatically think of my own definition of radical feminism, which is hard to define and that cop out on my behalf is definitely not progressing understanding. I will point to this video, that seems to try to shock people into thinking that if we teach young girls to swear and act in ways that wouldn’t be acceptable in a school setting or at home we are somehow empowering them. That seems radical enough to me.
Now I think you can agree that many people will be turned off by this vulgar display which from now on could be the idea that I would when I think “feminism”. Trying to work past my biases, and looking up the definition of feminism “the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men.” I think we get a much different message and we can ask ourselves some questions.
Do I support women being paid equally, assuming they are equally qualified to perform any task. Of course.
Do I support women being giving the same backing on political issues and same doors to be a candidate if they so choose. Of course.
Do I support teaching kids it’s ok to say bad words to sell T-shirts. No.
So if you ask me if I’m a feminist, I’d argue, yes. If you ask me if the FCKH8 people are feminists, I’d argue no, because they are alienating their cause to the public. They are being bad stewards of feminism.
Another topic that is rampant with misunderstanding.
Gay Rights. Homosexual Agenda. Gay Marriage.
Whatever other terms you want to describe this.
This is a topic that has much of the world split into about 100 different factions, as evidenced by my not knowing what to call it even without being unbiased. There are those who are promoting gay marriage as the exact same as heterosexual marriage. You have those who insist that gay unions will ruin heterosexual marriage. You have those that just oppose it because they feel it’s wrong. (This one I have no argument for, it’s completely illogical, at least provide some argument!) You have those that oppose gay marriage on the basis of religion.
There is so much misunderstanding in this debate it’s not even fun to laugh at.
Speaking to several homosexual people and to several who are opposed to gay unions I see they are working on such different premises it’s no surprise that there is so much debate on this topic.
Let me present the arguments as I think each side wants to see them.
Homosexuals – We want validation that our unions are legally binding. This is the most simple explanation. Here is a question from this article.
“Why do we need governments and courts to involve themselves in creating rules and tax codes for some provisional alliance between two (or three or 57) adults who merely wish to live together (or apart, or whatever they want) and ‘love each other?”
This gets to the root issue many people have with gay marriage. They want a definition of what is and isn’t included in the marriage. But what comes with legally binding? Do they get tax breaks or tax increases, as some married couples get? Do they want to right to adopt kids? Do they want hospital visitation and and the right to pass on belongings to spouses after they have passed.
Heterosexuals – Many I have talked to simply disagree with gay marriage because it’s not something they are familiar with. I think that’s a cop-out, a bad argument, etc. But that’s why we need to foster discussion.
Marriage as it happens in many churches is both a religious and legal contract. Many feel that if they legally validate gay unions and call it a marriage, it somehow degraded the sanctity of their religious marriage.
I find it a bit humorous that as many heterosexual couples choose to not get legally married that many homosexuals are looking for a legal marriage. Why don’t homosexuals choose to live together and not get married, much like many heterosexual couples. Then when they break up it’s not as big a deal. No lawyer, etc. Many who argue against homosexual marriage argue on the basis of religion. They don’t want their church to have to perform homosexual marriages in their churches. You might think, “that sounds silly, the state can’t force the church to do something.” Yet. Is my reply. Read about this happening elsewhere in the world. Good work Denmark.
Getting to a completely different topic which is being used to demonstrate the the importance of understanding.
The Catholic Church. I can’t imagine there is anything that has been so misunderstood in history as the Catholic Church. I recently read a book, Muscle and a Shovel, which I wouldn’t recommend. Based on it having completely incorrect information. Multiple times in the book it uses an argument that “The Pope is seen as God by the Catholic Church so it can’t be the church of Jesus.” To put it bluntly, this is completely and utterly false. I read this book because a good friend recommended it to me. After I reached that point, about ⅓ of the way into the book, I was tempted to put it down, but in the interest of understanding where he got these thoughts, I pushed through, and was exposed to the same thought at least 2 more times. Each time I thought, this is completely illogical, why is this book able to be sold at all?
The point being, obviously the author of that book (and anyone who reads and agrees) took a total of no time to understand the Catholic Church. He had an opinion, he wrote it down, sans thinking or understanding. If you have an opinion about something, take the time to discuss with people who hold views opposed to yours. You might find that you don’t actually understand the circumstances or that you actually even have the same views, just you didn’t take the time to understand it.
In all these situations, and many others around the world, there is rampant misunderstanding that I think with a little conversation and effort by both sides, could be cleared up. One thing we need to be aware of is that disagreement is not equal to hatred. I am allowed to think you are doing something wrong without hating you as a person. I think that that is something that has been lost in the world. If you aren’t for us you’re against us, seems to be the rally cry,and that just isn’t the case. I hope anyone reading my articles can engage in understanding and not just argument.
credit Nick Webb, cover photo