This week I had the joy of speaking with a prospective client in the Gulf Standard Time Zone, a half a world away. In preparation for the call, I did a little research about this country, their culture, business etiquette and more. I wanted to be respectful in every way that I could and not offend the person with whom I would be speaking.
During our Skype call, I was fascinated with their command of the English language and knowledge of western culture. I later learned that years ago, they obtained their master’s degree here in the U.S. What really touched me the most was when they described the area in which they now live. They mentioned that there were Hindu temples, Islamic temples, Jewish synagogues and Christian Churches in their enclave. They described their culture as one in which everybody gets along. While people in their culture disagree with each other, they have found a way to be respectful and tolerant of other’s beliefs and they don’t struggle with religious or political extremism.
I had to admit I felt a little sad. At one time in my life I would have had said the same about our culture in general. I am reminded of a favorite quote from either Frank Outlaw or Mahatma Gandhi, “Watch your words, they become actions. Watch your actions, they become habits. Watch your habits, they become your character. Watch your character, it becomes your destiny”.
When we speak hate, we engage in hateful actions which become habits. We become hateful. I don’t know about you, but I sure don’t want a destiny filled with hate.
On the other hand, if we exercise intentionality in our words and actions and seek first to understand. We may become curious and inquisitive. We may become known as someone who does not judge others immediately based on actions but strive to understand their intentions. And our legacy may be one of tolerance, understanding and love.
We don’t get a repeat on our life. Choose wisely!