Difference…

Different is BeautifulWe are different.

We are not the same. We have different ethnicities and come from different cultures and backgrounds. We practice different religions. We are not the same gender. We are not the same age. We have different political views and perspectives. We have different values of right and wrong. We live in different neighborhoods because we make different amounts of money. We have different life experiences. In innumerable ways, we are different and as long as we focus on our differences, different is all we’ll ever be.  We will be divided and will never achieve unity. And, because we cannot achieve unity, our potential is crippled and debilitated.

Tolerance…

We are different.

But, I will tolerate your differences. For some insane, holier-than-thou reason, I believe my package of differences is more acceptable than yours…more important. And, because I believe my differences are more important than yours, I assume the right to lord them over you and give you permission to not be like me. Yes, as arrogant as it sounds, you have my permission to be different. Whatever you do, though, don’t you dare cross the line. As long as I choose to tolerate your differences we will celebrate a condition frequently referred to as diversity.  To many, tolerance and diversity are false gods producing the illusion of unity. An illusion obtained and secured by thin lines drawn in the sand. And, please be warned…if you cross the lines I have drawn, I will assume the right to defend my differences by any and every means necessary. I must prove to you that my differences are more important than yours. Then, when those who are watching see that I have put you back in your place…on your side of the line, they will know that my differences are also more important than theirs and we can regain tolerance and an even greater illusion of unity. We can once again pretend to celebrate diversity.

Acceptance…

We are different.

But I accept the fact that we are different. I accept you. You are a fellow human being and I value your life. Because I accept you, I choose to see you before I see how you are different. That I will see you are different is inevitable because you are…we are. Because I accept you as a person, I choose to accept and respect those things that make you different…those things that make you unique. My differences are not better or worse than yours and yours are not better or worse than mine. Our differences are simply mutually and equally not the same. I value you so I respect your differences. It doesn’t mean I agree with you or that I have to. And, disagreement does not equal hate. It doesn’t mean that I will coerce you to believe as I do or that I should. Whether or not we agree, I can accept you because I see your humanity before I see your individuality. I can recognize that our differences provide an opportunity to discover, develop, and deploy fulfilling, beneficial relationships and healthy communities rather than be the reasons to divide, dismantle, and destroy them…or each other. Focusing on what makes us different blinds us to what makes us the same. Focusing on our similarities, however, can lead us to a true measure of authentic unity.

I accept you because you are capable of giving and receiving love. I accept you because…

You experience joy.

You grieve.

You worry.

You hurt.

You experience life.

You believe.

You doubt.

You hope.

You breathe.

You bleed.

YOU FEEL…

 

…I choose to accept you because you are not so different.


…Peace and blessings…

~ joe

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