The purpose of this post is to show how to change a person’s mind. Today, as a culture, we struggle with “canceling” people who do not agree with us. I do not claim to understand why people do this, but I do know how deep-seated beliefs get changed. And, if you strongly hold these beliefs canceling people is not the approach to make the world better and changing peoples’ minds and hearts. The purpose of this post is to show how my mind and heart changed towards homosexuality as an example of how to do it to me and others on issues they hold dear.
I am a 52 year-old male. I grew up outside of Boston and went threw puberty in the 1980s as I experienced high school. As I plodded through my years at Lincoln Sudbury Regional High School I cannot recall a single person who claimed to be homosexual. Knowing now what I know the zero percent acknowledgement rate was a lie. There were certainly several if not many of my peers and friends in High School who were homosexual, but I did not know it. Growing up in the 80’s and then serving in the Army in the 1990’s anti-homosexual thinking and language was part of my life. Especially as part of the Army my vocabulary was laced with anti-homosexual phrases. Not only was my language anti-homosexual, but so was my thinking. I believed that homosexually was a behavioral health disorder. I believed that a healthy mind would not walk the path of homosexuality. Now, just to be clear, I never believed that homosexuals were “bad” people. They were not like pedophiles or anything of that ilk. They were just people who had their own struggle like people with depression. My thinking at the time was that they were people who were sick.
When I was in my late 40s my thinking began to change. As I watched society embrace homosexually in the media and culture I was challenged to defend my thinking to myself. For years I successfully defended my position until I was challenged by two of my friends. They did not intentionally set out to change my mind and heart, but through their actions they did.
The first was a very smart man who is a drinking buddy of mine in the state of Washington. Over two or three or thirty local brews we discussed a wide variety of subjects to include homosexuality. As a heterosexual who held no negative thoughts towards homosexuality, he challenged my thinking with logic and data. He did not pass judgement on me or my thinking, but challenged me with logic and science. He talked about how species across the animal kingdom had homosexuality. He pointed out how science showed that as a species reached a level of population it seemed natural for the species to have a higher and higher rate of homosexuality to prevent over population. This made sense to me. I could see how it would be an evolutionary advantage for a species to have this mechanism in place. As we talked and drank beer this thinking would sink in and impact my thinking and heart.
The second major influencer of my thinking on homosexuality was another friend. For five years or so we have been friends discussing soccer, kids, army, politics and a good amount of beer drinking. During this beer drinking we would share stories about our families and friends and nearly everything else. As part of that he told me about a brother of his who is homosexual. We talked about their family gatherings and relations and his brother became real for me. His brother began to matter to me because my friend mattered to me. I began to relate to his brother who was homosexual because he mattered to my friend and my friend mattered to me. Over time and beer my thinking changed. His brother mattered to me. His brother’s homosexuality changed my thinking and feelings on homosexuality. Homosexuality was no longer a behavioral health issue and became more like the issue of a person becoming a Seahawk’s fan instead of a Patriot’s fan.
Cancel culture is wrong in many ways. It is not just wrong in the form or passing judgement on others, but it is wrong because it does not achieve the desired outcome of changing the minds of others. If you have a strong belief that you believe others should share you need to bring those “non-believers” closer to you so they can hear your logic and feel your love. Canceling people does not change their mind and hearts. Sharing your thinking and feelings with others without judgement is what changes their minds and is what we need more of in our society. We need to judge less and share and embrace more. If you want to change the world by changing the minds of the people you care for, you need to be like my friends and without judgement share your thinking and your love and let your friends at their own pace come to your thinking.