How Do We Change?

Photo by Nicole Mason

My brother shared a video with me a few weeks ago. It has since disappeared off the internet. But, the gist of it was focused on this one question, “How do people change?”

In the video, a police officer told the story of how a man approached him at a restaurant after observing the officer during his meal. The officer, as most officers do, was on high alert while he ate, completely on. The man who observed him shared that he had not always been on the “right side of the law” but that if anything were to have happened in that place he would have had the officer’s back.

Both men were changed.

I am learning that there is a fundamental way that we as people change. We change through our interactions with other people. This sounds obvious. This seems to be a “duh” kind of concept. Yet, it seems to be a foreign reality to most people. I’m not speaking of social media interactions. No, I’m speaking of real life, flesh and blood, face to face interactions with other people.

“Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.”

— Proverbs 27:17

We don’t think of this reality enough. Too many of us believe people are fundamentally changed through information. We think if folks would just get the right information and understand the right arguments then they will change.

This just isn’t how it works.

People do not fundamentally change as a result of information. They fundamentally through interacting with other people.

One of my favorite movies is Remember The Titans. This movie tells the story of a football team that is created as the result of forced desegregation. In it you see people change. You see them change at a fundamental level because they get to know people who they had never known before.

There is a moment that turns the tide of the film,

We can not change apart from knowing the “other.”

If you find that you hate black people or white people or conservative people or liberal people or gay people or straight people, then those are the people that you need to get to know. Do you have a general mistrust of those folks? Get to know them. Do you argue with them online? Stop it and find them out and get to know them personally.

There is simply nothing that changes us more than a cup of coffee with someone and a little time. We find out they are people. Real people. They are just folks like us.

They have heartache and sadness.

They have real fears.

They have real hurts.

They have real ideas about how to fix things.

They have a view of the world colored by their experience that is nuanced and special.

They love.

They laugh.

They care.

Do you want to change? Get face to face in real life with a real person, especially someone who is different than you.

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