If you are truly interested in making peace with a person who hurt you, you will need to make every effort to understand that person's culture, background, environment, and attitudes. Understanding what makes people tick can help you understand that a comment or an action may not have been intended to hurt you; it may just be their custom.
Many people from the South think that people from the North are rude and insensitive. They think they are pushy, impolite, and opinionated. Many people from the North think that people from the South are ignorant, lazy, and uneducated. Why? Because this is the stereotype that each culture has been trained to believe. It is not until a native of Atlanta goes to New York City that he or she fully understands the magnitude of a New Yorker's heart. And, it is not until a person from New York City goes to Birmingham that he or she fully understands the nature of Southern hospitality.
Learning to forgive means learning to understand that everyone is uniquely different and is reared with different morals, values, customs, norms, and sanctions. Many conflicts can be avoided if you simply understand other cultures more deeply. Only by understanding that religion, age, race, sex, sexual orientation, education, environment, economic status, and innate factors all play important roles in who we are as people can you fully understand the other person's point of view.The Case of Doris
Doris, a woman in her early sixties, works in retail in a major mall located in the South. She has worked for the store for over fifteen years. Everyone loves Doris because of her caring nature, her charm, her wit, and her devotion to her family and friends. If you asked anyone, you would be hard-pressed to find a single person who does not like and admire her.
During the busy holiday season, the department store hires temporary help to assist with customer service. This year, Cindy is hired to work in Doris's department. The two hit it off well and the training goes off without a hitch. It is not until Doris makes a comment about having to work Christmas Eve that the two first discover a difference in their lives. Doris wants to be off on Christmas Eve so that she can be with her family, open gifts, and get ready for services on Christmas day. Cindy says that she does not care about Christmas Eve because her family is Jewish.
Doris has never met a Jewish person before and really can't understand how someone could not care about Christmas Eve and Christmas. She invites Cindy over to her home after they finish work on December 24. Cindy declines, stating that she really has no interest in the holiday and that she would not be comfortable. Doris is incensed that Cindy is shunning her religion and her holiday. Cindy is put off because Doris refuses to acknowledge that Judaism celebrates the season with different traditions and customs. The conflict grows until neither Doris nor Cindy will speak to each other. They both feel betrayed for having revealed so much about themselves to each other only to have it used against them.Doris and Cindy Revisited
Had Doris and Cindy taken the time to understand the other's faith, this conflict could have been easily avoided. With a more thorough understanding, neither would feel betrayed, neither would feel hurt, and neither Doris's nor Cindy's self-esteem would have been damaged by the unfortunate incident. Understanding where others are coming from can help you avoid conflict, and if conflict arises, understanding others' cultures can help you forgive.