Years back, I held a team meeting that fell on the Lunar New Year; my PowerPoint started with Happy New Year; Welcome the Year of the Ox. A member of the team pulled me aside during the break, “This makes me uncomfortable, I don’t believe in this.” Rut roo, what do I do? Do I explain scientifically, you are perfectly fine with January 1st, the solar New Year, as celebrated in the west; what is the belief that restricts acknowledgment of the lunar new year as celebrated in the east? Do I logically explain, Christian religious holidays also based on moon phases; Easter – the first Sunday, after the first full moon after the spring equinox. Do I invoke ethnocentrism as a reminder to have cultural acceptance? Christmas is celebrated by 33% of the world, the lunar new year is celebrated by 23% of the world.
I responded, “thank you for expressing your feelings.” This was not the time (we were on a break and others were waiting to speak to me) nor the place (at the door of the meeting room) to have a discussion. Besides, he was respectfully expressed his belief system and the impact was on him only. The danger is when people who make rules, control policy and are in a position of power, ignore science, logic and bias and cling to false belief. Malcom X said:
Despite my firm convictions, I have always been a man who tries to face facts, and to accept the reality of life as new experience and new knowledge unfolds. I have always kept an open mind, a flexibility that must go hand in hand with every form of the intelligent search for truth.
I didn’t get the sense that there was an openness for this conversation. Hopefully this incident was an introduction to another way of thinking and now years later will allow another exploration. Maybe? Thomas Jefferson said:
“I am not an advocate for frequent changes in laws and Constitutions. But laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths discovered and manners and opinions change, with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also to keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors.”
When are we adults trying to wear the coats of children? This week, do you consider yourself open minded? When was the last time your view changed when presented with new facts.