Webster's defines the word assume as "to take as granted or true."
We all take things for granted in this life. It's just part of making the day to day part of life easier to process. It's a simplification of the world around us into defaults that we can generally assume to be true. None of us want to spend our day having to think through each and every minute event. We'd never get anything done. So we begin to make assumptions about who we will talk to, what people will think about us, and what is acceptable for us to do socially.
The problem arises when those general assumptions, which we use to simplify our life, find themselves surrounded by a context that no longer works. Those assumptions that we use to simplify our lives into easy categories, become quickly useless, and in many ways harmful.
Much of the complication surrounding the writing of my recently release book, "Over Coffee: A Conversation for Gay Partnership & Conservative Faith," centered around the problem of assumptions. From the conservative faith side, many have made negative assumptions about gay persons. Because being gay is so often presented in light of the media's portrayal, conservatives often do not realize that there are a number of gay persons who simply don't fit those assumptions. There are many gay people who are monogamously partnered, church going, active and contributing members of our society.
On the other side, there are many in the gay community who have made negative assumptions about people who have a more conservative faith. However, there are conservative people who are compassionate, welcoming, and affirming, but who are often drowned out as a result of the minority of conservatives who continue to make assumptions.
Today, consider taking some time to reflect on others around you and ask yourself if you are making assumptions about them. And don't assume anything. The best solution is to begin to talk.
And don't worry about differences, as Anne Wilson Schaef put it, "Differences challenge assumptions."