It is interesting how often we seem to look for difference. We see someone in the street, and think that they are of a different color, or race, or gender, or…..
There are many differences between us as individuals. In fact, we are all unique – no one person is exactly the same as anyone else. We know and treasure this about ourselves and our close friends. It is a joy to us to get to know our friends better, and to enjoy the small uniqueness’s of them.
And yet, we can often generate differences to keep us apart. We see this in the public arena a lot, where politicians of each party seek to show up how much they are different from the other. But much of that is just posturing for advantage.
More fundamentally, we often build up barriers based on the perceptions we have of differences between us. There are prevalent ides based on stereotyping, for example, that stop us from interacting with people we perceive as “different”. And once we set up those differences in our minds, we just automatically look for things that support our prejudice.
Once we have decided that the other person is different, all those things that would make us smile about our friends makes us wary of this person. Anything they say will be viewed from the angel that they are obviously lying, and we look carefully to see where. If they say something that attunes with our views, we look for the slightest difference and jump on that as a reason for dismissing the whole statement.
And yet, are not differences the things that add spice to our lives? If we always ate the same food, always saw the same sights, always heard the same music – where is the excitement, the growth?
For it is in differences that we have the opportunity to learn and to grow – and to have fun! Listening to another point of view without pre-judging it can be a great way to test our own beliefs. Understanding the points the other makes gives us the opportunity to consider options that we had not previously thought about.
Meeting people from different cultures may at first be strange, and their customs seem odd. But if we just reject the differences as foreign, then we never get the opportunity to learn anything from that culture. Every individual offers something unique to the world, and every person we meet gives us an opportunity to learn more and become more rounded individuals.
We cut ourselves off from others when we think that the differences we see between us are fundamental, rather than the normal uniqueness that we find in everyone.
We are all different, and it is those differences that should be celebrated and explored.