Are Preferences Wrong?

Strange question or is it?  I’m not asking if some preferences are wrong but if all preferences are wrong.  We live in a culture which increasingly tells us they are.  And I don’t mean choices in a commercial sense.  Bernie Sanders may complain about too many deodorants or sneakers but that viewpoint is fairly rare.  No, I speak of the preferences we may have in our interpersonal relationships.

Most all of us realize that pre-judging others based on sex or race is not only wrong but misguided.  To that, most would add sexual preference, religion and national origin.  A decreasing number seem to include political views in this list as our political landscape becomes increasingly toxic.  But I see increasing numbers of people who tell us that any preference I have is wrong.  To value a person because they possess desirable qualities or to avoid those with less desirable qualities makes me a bad person.  

The dirty little secret about human relationships is that we choose to spend time with those who, one way or another, bring us pleasure.  Over time, bonds of love, family and friendship may develop and we may come to value those bonds more than any temporary pleasure or inconvenience.  But we are drawn to each other initially by characteristics like intelligence, humor, strength, beauty and, yes, even wealth.  Maybe we should all be more like Mother Teresa and live among the poor and sick but most of us never will.  We may have compassion towards those people but we will not devote our lives to helping them.

I am sure there are many people who value me as a human being and wish me no harm and, in fact, want me to be happy.  However, a number of those people probably would not choose to spend time with me.  They may think I am stupid, unattractive and grumpy.  They may find my humor intolerable and might think I smell or dress funny.  They may regard my life choices as terrible and my ideas as wrong and simply don’t want to associate with me, outside of a brief exchange of pleasantries.  You know what?  I am fine with that.   Because I feel the same way about some of them.  And I think that’s OK too.  

That being said, neither my opinion nor any other person’s opinion about you should, by itself, define who you are.  Just because I don’t agree with you doesn’t make you wrong, just because I’m not attracted to you doesn’t make you ugly and just because I don’t enjoy your company doesn’t mean you are an unpleasant person.  They are preferences and we all have them.  And, no, they aren’t wrong.

Thanks for reading along.  Be back at the end of the week with more wit and wisdom…well, maybe.

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