Looks and Opinions
by Rabbi Michoel Gourarie
In discussing the differences between people, the Talmud makes the following statement:
"Just as the physical features of every human being is different, so too do their views differ from each other."
Why is it necessary for the Talmud to link our diverse thinking to our different facial features?
No one struggles with the fact that we don't look alike. We accept this reality as a part of life. In fact we welcome and celebrate this obvious part of existence. It is common sense that if all people would look the same it would be an impossible world to live in.
Yet when it comes to our ways of thinking, we have a difficult time and feel threatened by those that disagree with us. We often resent those who oppose our philosophies, opinions, or strategies. (Like that great fridge magnet I once saw that read: "Everyone is entitled to my opinion.)
This is the depth of the Talmudic statement:
Different perspectives and opinions is a reality not just to accept reluctantly but something to celebrate. It is identical to us looking different which is something we would never give up even if we could.
In our relationships, shared values are always important. But within those shared values there could be different paths, approaches, and ways of doing things. Understanding the views of others and respecting them, enhances (not weakens) our relationships and gives us a depth that we could not achieve on our own. Unity does NOT mean that we all begin thinking alike. It is actually the ability to connect with someone who is different.