Difference…

Different is BeautifulWe are different.

We are not the same color. We come from different cultures and backgrounds. We do not practice the same religion. We are not the same gender. We have different sexual orientations. 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. In innumerable ways, we are different and as long as we focus on our differences, we will be divided and will never achieve unity. 

Tolerance…

We are different.

But, I will tolerate your differences. For some insane, holier-than-thou reason, I believe my brand of differences are more acceptable than yours…more important. And, because I believe mine are more important than yours, I assume the right to lord my differences over you and give you permission to not be like me. Yes, you have my permission but whatever you do, 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 a thin line drawn in the sand…man-made boundaries. I don’t know who draws the lines or determines the boundaries. I do know this…if you cross the line, I will be forced to defend my rights by 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 effectively put you back in your place, they will know that my differences are also more important than theirs and we can regain tolerance and an even greater illusion of unity.

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 the different you. That I will see you are different from me is inevitable because you are, in fact, different. But, 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, mutual disagreement does not equal mutual 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 you the person before I see you the different person. We can recognize that our differences provide an opportunity to discover, develop, and deploy fulfilling relationships and healthy communities rather than the reasons to divide, dismantle, and destroy them. Focusing on what makes us different blinds us to what makes us the same. It blinds us to what makes us unique. 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 abandonment and rejection.

You believe.

You doubt.

You hope.

You breathe.

You bleed.

YOU FEEL…

 

…I accept you because you are not so different.

…I accept you because I choose to.


…Peace and blessings…

~ joe

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