I recently rewatched the 1956 film, Forbidden Planet. The first time I saw this movie as a young boy, Robbie, the robot, would have been my favorite character if not for the appearance of Anne Francis. Anyway, Robbie was the amazing result of genesis futuristic science and technology, including AI and matter synthesis and generation, all wrapped in a super strong and dry-witted package.
Robbie was not human. Robbie was programmed by Morbius to obey a system of rules similar to Isaac Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics. Robbie would not hurt a human or allow a human to be hurt, but Robbie didn’t love humans. Robbie compared the circumstances to a set of preconceived parameters and made simple choices.
People are more complex. We can hold two things in our heads and hearts that conflict and yet believe them both. Let me illustrate. A parent can love a child and desire them to be safe and well yet allow them to harm themselves so they will learn lessons that could prevent far graver damage later in life. When our children are teenagers, we often disagree completely with their choices and find ourselves in outright conflict with them over everything from clothing styles to politics, yet we love them completely and without reservation.
It is possible for us to love (care for, respect) someone and not affirm their choices or actions.
This is being lost in our social culture. Today, there is often a demand that to demonstrate your acceptance of me, you must accept (affirm, agree with) my choices and actions. In other words, if you disagree with me or my choices, you hate me. This is patently untrue and significantly harmful to our communities.
True acceptance and love are based on the intrinsic and equal value of all people. I haven’t run into anyone who will admit they don’t believe that, though many fail to act in ways that would prove their belief. Personally, my belief in everyone’s value is rooted in their creation by a God who loves them, but you are free to find other ways to give everyone equal value—as long as you do.
Everyone is equally valuable as a human, but we are different. Equal in value but not the same. The things that make us different can be the source for rich dialogue and better ways to seize opportunities, but they can also be the source of disagreement and conflict. One of the benefits of living in community is the advantage we can gain by engaging with others who have different experiences and viewpoints than we do.
Your perceptions and feelings are always real, but they are not always true. Sometimes, we are wrong. Being told I am wrong by someone who loves me is not a negation of their love; it is an affirmation of it. Having someone continue to interact with me, care about me, and invest in me—even when they disagree with me—is an act of love, not hate.
One of the things that makes Kimray special is we live this out, imperfectly, but intentionally. We start by acknowledging everyone’s equal, intrinsic value. We add to that a genuine care for each person in our community. You can call this respect. You can even call it love. Then, each of us limits our own personal freedoms in order to create a space where everyone can feel safe and valued. We don’t all agree on everything! In fact, we disagree a lot.
Affirmation and agreement don’t equal love. Just because I’m right, doesn’t mean you are wrong. There may actually be a right and a wrong, and it is only through disagreement and dialogue that we stand any chance of getting closer to the truth. Healthy cultures love and disagree. Unlike robots, healthy people can care about each other even when they believe the other person is wrong. That is the truth, and it is The Bison Way.