There Are Similarities Within Our Differences
“It is not our differences that divide us. It is our ability to recognize, accept and celebrate those differences.” ~Audre Lorde
Today, the world homes roughly 196 countries. There are countless sexual orientations, roughly 7,099 spoken languages and nearly 4,200 practiced religions. With numbers as large as this, how do you determine what’s more valuable? How do you figure out which country is the best, which language is the most important, which sexualities are valid or which religion is the right one? The answer to all of these question come down to two simple words:
“Let’s stop believing that our differences make us superior or inferior to one another.” ~ Don Miguel Ruiz
The world has a strange and dark history of oppression, degradation, prejudices and invasions based on the simple thought that one system of beliefs, race or lifestyle is the only correct or superior one. We are halfway through the year of 2017. With the countless traumas and devastations the world has suffered in the past, and the major presence social media has in our world today, one would think that we’d do all within our power to prevent ourselves from repeating the past.
Inform Yourself about Racial & LGBTQ+ Discrimination
There are countless works out there to learn about the world around us and where we all come from. When it came to researching the history of racial discrimination and violence for this article, there’s just too much out there to condense. The main point I can make upon my readings is: this history is far too long and has yet to see an end. I found myself reading from Race and History ‘s response to a special aired by PBS called Race: A History of Racism. It’s got a lot of information about where beliefs of racism originated and why they were, unfortunately, so popularized.
With the month of June being National Pride Month, I wrote an article for Millennials 365 about the bravery of those who come out of the closet, what we’re up against and all of the injustice shown to the LGBTQ+ in the past. It’s titled: Pride and the LGBTQ+ Community. Be informed. Be understanding. There is no one correct way to love someone. No gender is the one gender you can or cannot have affection towards. Make the senseless violence end.
Religious Differences and the Many Wars of Hypocrits
The concept of religion is the belief in a higher power than any that exist in this life on Earth. Some religions believe that we only have this one physical life which is followed by our existence in a spiritual form in the next. Others believe in a reincarnation where your deeds or sins of this life effect your station in life in the next. There are always some sort of guidelines, commandments or rules to follow or have faith in. Each has it’s own history and unique traditions.
My question is this:
How do you not see these differences as learning opportunities?
I was raised Catholic. I went to a Catholic middle school and Catholic high school. What I never expected at my Catholic high school was Mr. P’s class (we’ll call him Mr. P for the sake of privacy). In his class, we spent each quarter focusing on a different religion. One quarter was Judaism, one focused on Islam, another studied Hinduism, and one more followed Buddhism. We studied the many histories, beliefs and teachings of each religion. This helped us to not only understand the differences between their religions and ours but, it also helped us to see the similarities. Most of the main goals in each religion we studied was to be a good person to others, yourself, and your deity.
It amazed me when I heard that some parents actually had an issue with this lesson plan. Did they not see that he was helping us to be more informed about the people in our world? We were about to enter the scary new world of college, a melting pot of cultures, religions and ethnicities. Why would they want us to be uninformed about our potential future classmates? I heard that some parents blamed it on “brain-washing our children to lose faith in their religion by confusing them with the teachings of others”.
What was the real point of that class?
As the year came to an end, I asked Mr. P, “Did you make us study other religions to teach us tolerance?”
He smirked and replied, “That word isn’t exactly what I was going for, tolerance. Tolerance isn’t understanding, it’s uncaring. It’s merely being without emotion.” He wanted us to know the purposes behind the teachings of the many religions so that we might understand why people believe certain things, where their beliefs come from. When I find myself discussing religion or cultures with someone whose views may differ from mine, I see it as an opportunity to see things in a new way. You cannot make an informed decision about anything without looking at it from a few different angles. This manner of thinking has shaped me in ways that I never imagined.
No two people live the same lives. There is no correct way to think, act or live. We are not meant to be identical inside or outside. Life would be insufferably tedious if every single person was the same. Where there are differences in religion or culture, ask questions and learn from the answers. If there are differences in race, know that the same type of bones, organs, muscles and cells that make up that person also reside within you. When someone wants to have the same rights to be in love, remember how it felt to have your heart absolutely shattered. I think there would be less suffering and more peace, less ignorance, less terror, if everyone made an effort to learn from each other and find the similarities hiding within our differences.