Acceptance. Specifically, acceptance of others for whom they choose to be.
As human beings we encounter a number of issues that seem to cast a shadow over our existence. One of the biggest sources of our problems is, the fact that we are all different. Different races, skin tones, backgrounds, levels of wealth, “classes” ethnicity, religions, beliefs, values, life experience, habits and so on.
Our problems range from the trivial to disastrous. From someone not liking your fashion style to people killing each other for seemingly nothing. We are all affected by the differences we observe in others and this has a profound effect on how we interact and engage with each other.
Think about your everyday interactions. Who bothers you and why? People may choose to discriminate based on race, attitude, tattoos, clothing, religion, sexual orientation, employment position, what they eat, what they think, who they support, the list goes on and on and on. Throughout our lives we piece together our values, beliefs and whom we believe we are. During this process most of us cannot avoid noticing the gap between ourselves and others. We often focus on the differences and because these differences don’t align with our own values and beliefs we automatically believe these people to be in the wrong. We see people of other races doing things that bother us and we put them in one basket painting that whole group with the same negative brush. We may think anyone with a tattoo is a criminal (although that is old school thinking), people who vote for a different political party to be stupid, people who wear certain clothes to be weirdo’s. Again the list just goes on and on and on. No matter how similar you think you may be to the person next to you, I can guarantee that you have many differences. Even twins who often look, think and act in a similar way can often have major differences in who they are and how they think. Unfortunately as Humans we seem to evolve our technology much faster than we evolve our thinking.
So Ask yourself , do you fit into any of these categories?
Do you criticize others based on their background or personal choices, just because it differs from yours?
Most of us have likely done this at some stage. It would be hard to avoid thinking in this kind of way, at least a few times within our early years, maybe even unconsciously. When these thoughts, beliefs and feelings are unconscious, this is called 'unconscious bias'.
But what if you could clean slate your values and beliefs?
What if you just saw everyone else as unique individuals who have the right to unique choices? The right to believe what they want and to be exactly whom they feel they are inside. Now I know that it may seem hard. You probably have strong beliefs and values. If anyone else’s values and beliefs don’t align with yours it can be very hard to look at them and just think, “hey, if that’s who they are and how they want to be, why is it any of my business”. We become so ingrained with what we think is right. It is a natural human behavior to want to impose our identity onto others, as we believe it is right. It is natural for humans to want others to understand the benefits to our point of view and why their way of being is flawed. But is it our job as individuals to impose, influence or coerce others into what we believe to be right?
The world would be a vastly different place if as human beings we were able to accept each other as unique individuals with the right to make unique and individual choices. It is the differences between us, that makes life and the human race in general, interesting. Evolution requires people to be different and to think in creative and unique ways.
Now at this point you may have been thinking of a counter-argument, so I want to point out a major point that is separate to everything I have said.
This point is- Although, we should accept each others differences, there is one caveat, no matter what we believe, think or how we choose to act, we don’t hurt others. This is hard because your beliefs may allow you to do things that others would see as wrong, but I think some things are obvious. Treat others how you wish to be treated, respect others and their beliefs. Do whatever you can to not hurt others and to understand that what might not hurt you, could hurt another. Physical pain is obvious, but mental and emotional pain can take a degree of open-mindedness and understanding to avoid. We aren’t perfect and we make mistakes we wished we hadn’t. Do your best and avoid causing undue suffering to others.
So when you are out in the world or watching tv etc and you see someone who is different, but not causing suffering to others, then ask yourself these questions.
How does this affect me personally?
If they are like that, how does it change my life?
Why does it matter to me really?
If I think they are wrong to be that way, why do I care?
If they are like that, how will it impact my life?
If I don’t like how they are, how does it help to keep thinking that way?
Do they have the right to live how they want, just as I do?
Are they really hurting anyone by being that way?
Am I wasting energy worrying about something that doesn’t matter and I cant change anyway?
Am I categorizing someone rather than understanding them as a unique individual?
I think you would struggle to come up with a solid argument, which would support the idea that someone else following who they are as an authentic and unique individual has so much influence on your life. Thinking or reacting to others being different only creates problems and wastes your energy, when it could be used better elsewhere.
So do your best to realize that the choices others make, the way they are or want to be, how they choose to live or exist, who they are and what they believe doesn’t matter. You can just think about something else and move on with your own life. End of story!
If they aren’t hurting anyone, then who really cares.
Live YOUR life the way you choose and allow others to choose the way they live theirs.