“I don’t like that man. I must get to know him better.”

Honest Abe

Honest Abe

Recently a friend shared this quote from Abraham Lincoln:  “I don’t like that man.  I must get to know him better.”

I like that quote.

For many years it was my mantra.

“I don’t like (fill in the blank)…therefore, I must get to know it (or him) better.”

Our usual mode of operation is to think “I don’t like that person.  I should get far far away from her!”

Yet what do we learn when we move closer?

Usually we discover common bonds.  We discover that what we don’t like about that man is what we don’t like about ourselves.  We discover that, perhaps, we’re not as separate as we might think.

In every despicable person or situation, a pearl so often shines.  Shall we take the time to look for it?  Or shall we, unlike Honest Abe, move toward rejecting, pushing away, because it hurts too darn much to spend the time to find common ground, places where we agree?

Yes, dear friend, there are times to move away.  There are times to make a stand not to be hurt, injured, thrust in the fire.

Yet, more times than not, our enemy contains our friend.  It’s just a matter of digging deep enough to find common ground.

How many of you have discovered this?

(Thanks for the inspiration, dear Amy!)


About Kathy

I live in the middle of the woods in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Next to Lake Superior's cold shores. I love to blog.
This entry was posted in July 2014 and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

28 Responses to “I don’t like that man. I must get to know him better.”

  1. I love this! What a good way to deal with those feelings, too! Thanks, Kathy!

  2. Susan D says:

    Yes, I have discovered this — with more humans than I could have guessed. Thank you for this, Kathy. An important reminder. LOVE the photo.

  3. You and Abe make so much sense Kathy! I think it is very common to have immediate responses to a person that say, “don’t like” and that is not often the real YOU thinking that. Much more data about that in the book, Dianetics, by the way.

  4. Janet says:

    This is SO true (in my life anyway). I felt that way about a woman I worked with. Didn’t like her but had no good reason not to, something about the way she looked and carried herself. In the end, she became my best friend.

  5. lisaspiral says:

    I find that’s true about strangers and acquaintances. But in that case the “I don’t like them” really isn’t that strong. There’s a difference for me between “I don’t care for them”, where I’m willing to move closer and give it a look, and “I don’t like them” because really I don’t. I agree that where “I don’t care for them” there is usually something worth learning.

  6. john k says:

    So true, thank you!

  7. A wonderful, timely reminder Kathy — thank you! 🙂

  8. Maybe 2-3 times in my life Thoughtful post, Kathy.

  9. john k says:

    It just occurred to me … you are both rail splitters

  10. dawnkinster says:

    Our purpose in Maine was to have a reunion of sorts of Truck Safety people, one without DC and the stress that city puts on us. It was lovely. We decided to call it the Silver Lining Reunion, because each of us had lost someone we loved and we all wished we had never met, but the silver lining was that we had each other. One family father said there was no silver lining that he could see. He’s bitter, and understandably so. Still…it helps to find a bit of good even in the most terrible situation. I guess we should get to know him better; we already know the common ground we share.

  11. Elisa says:

    Doing such has and can lead me into highly unsafe and unhealthy situations! Yikes!! Friend K used to cluck his tongue at me and say, “Trying to get the cheese from the trap again are we?!” (He also ascribed to getting to know people–I forget his catchy phrase for it.) For me, it’s the difference between walking alongside and keeping me, me, and sucking in and up everything about everyone willy nilly. As many things as I may share (or not share) we are unique and we are many. I do not believe that we are one. Not in that understanding of one.

  12. Debbie M. says:

    Lincoln’s quote was a good reminder to look past the things that rub us wrong (about people) and really get to know them. I have some friends with a big mouth (loud, have to be in the center of attention, you get the idea!) and an even bigger heart. If I had not taken the time to get to know them better, I would have missed out on a special friend. Thanks for the quote and the reminder!

  13. I’ve discovered this, too, Kathy. And I agree, there are times to move away and times to move closer and find our connection. It takes a lot of wisdom to know the difference. I remember Pema Chödrön’s teaching: that every time we want to say so-and-so is selfish (or some other seemingly negative quality) we should add on, “just like me.” As I practiced this I was astonished to find it worked almost all the time – I was merely focusing on my own faults reflected in others. Very humbling… Abe was a wise old soul…

  14. Lori D says:

    The novel I wrote has a character in it (based off of my experiences) who realizes this very thing. But, only after agonizing over other people’s behaviors and finally having a revelation. 🙂

  15. Don Voss says:

    To everything there is a season… and so too with our likes and dislikes… they are of course mostly vanity … so yes we have lots to learn from old abe.

  16. P.j. grath says:

    Often. At least, worth a try.

  17. Heather says:

    This is a terrific quote, and I think one of the best ways to get rid of stereotyping. I know so many people who used to hate ___ (insert group of people here), until they met one member of group, and now they realize they’re just people, too.
    Common ground usually exists if we get to know people. But you’re right; sometimes it’s still best to walk away.

  18. Barb says:

    I think I was better at pursuing Abe’s philosophy when I was younger. Now, I often don’t want to take the time or make the effort. My loss, I guess.

  19. Elizabeth says:

    I’m with Abe. For sure. Though I also think that our enemy is not only our friend, but us.

  20. Reggie says:

    That is such a wise mantra, Kathy. So true… how quick we are to judge and stereotype. Thanks for the thought-provoking post.

  21. Abe said it very well and you thoughtfully reminded us to look deeper into that mirror of ourselves; the one we do not want to acknowledge.

  22. sybil says:

    Oh dear … must I ? Why do you insist on trying to bring out the best in me !

  23. me2013 says:

    I will admit I am of the don’t like walk away and don’t give it a chance gang, It looks like I a rethink is on the cards. 😀

  24. I Wilkerson says:

    You know I would say sometimes yes and sometimes no. But certainly worth remembering for the good instances.

  25. christinelaennec says:

    I’ve never heard this quote before – very wise. I also agree with Pema Chodron’s suggestion of “just like me”. And I agree that we do need to stay clear of some people – but that doesn’t mean we can’t try to understand why they behave as they do. Interesting!

  26. Ally Bean says:

    As an outsider most of the time, I find that lots of people who I might not care for initially turn out to be great; they reveal parts of me that I didn’t understand before. But I will caution that if my intuition screams “run away” from this person, I do it stat. I’m open, but there are limits.

  27. flandrumhill says:

    I agree with the Benedictines who believe that if someone tells you something that grates on you, you should be even more inclined to listen to what they have to say.

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