02 October 2016


If humans are to survive, we will have learned to take a delight in the essential differences between people and between cultures. We will learn that differences in ideas and attitudes are a delight, part of life's exciting variety, not something to fear.   -Gene Roddenberry

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It frightens me--and makes me very sad--to see how little tolerance we have in our country for people who are different than we are, for people who think differently than we do.  Somehow we've grown to let our fears do our thinking for us, fears that people who do things differently than we do somehow will force us to do things differently ourselves. We're afraid that the world of tomorrow will be different than the world of today because people who are different than we are are going to change that world.

It's pretty obvious, though, that the world of today is much different than the world of yesterday.  Changes are happening, constantly.  They always have, and they always will.  If we could accept this fact and come to expect it, even, we might find that we're not so afraid of changes--and we may come to accept and love the people we know who do and think differently than we do.

This doesn't mean, of course, that we blindly accept differences just because they're different.  I will never be tolerant of a person who wishes to harm other people for no reason other than his or her own gain.  I can't accept racism or gender bias or any approach that attempts to put other human beings at a lower level--but which ends up putting the racist person at the lower level. But legitimate differences, such as religious beliefs or political ideals, should be a way for us to learn from each other, not a source of disdain for each other.

Our current political world shows almost a complete lack of tolerance for opposing views. The people in positions of power are modeling behaviors and attitudes that can only harm others, and almost never help anyone except the people who agree with them politically and ideologically. What is it that makes us be so intolerant of the ideas of others? What makes us intolerant of their beliefs? Of their racial and ethnic origins? Wise person after wise person has told us that the cause of our intolerance is fear, and the fear that causes us to be intolerant also makes us incapable of learning from these people who have so much to offer us, if we can only find ways to accept it in the spirit of love and compassion instead of looking upon them in the spirit of judgment.

Take the risk and find ways to be not just tolerant, but accepting and loving, and you'll find that your new-found ability to reach out and love will turn your life into a much brighter, much more fulfilling experience.

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