Can't We All Just Get Along?
I recently traveled to three countries in Europe. As usual, I was blown away by their culture. It’s drastically different than ours—as it should be—and I truly appreciate it. One of the things I noticed most is how generally accepting they are of one another. Not only that, they celebrate differences and the fact that people are unique in their own way. It’s such a beautiful thing! Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that everyone is like this but it seems to be the majority. It really had me thinking and I decided that this was the perfect topic for my next blog. I ask that you stay open as you read and remember that this is just my viewpoint on the matter. My hope is that it will allow some people to expand their thinking. Or maybe it will inspire them to be a little more accepting of others different than themselves. A girl can dream, right?
Why do most Americans—especially those from the South—act all crazy towards ideals, cultures, and ethnicities different from their own? This is the question that kept coming up for me during my 2 weeks abroad. Now everyone has opinions based on their own experiences and I totally get that. Personal experiences SHOULD be used to form some judgements that keep us safe. But we tend to hold the entire “group” responsible after having a bad experience with a few people belonging to it. Is overall anger and fear for the rest of the group necessary?
Let’s go back to our childhoods. We were all raised a certain way. Most of the time, it was similar to how our parents were raised. Our parents were raised similar to how their parents were raised and so on. They passed down very specific traditions, nutritional habits, opinions, viewpoints, beliefs, etc. These became our normal. And most—not all—of the families around you had a similar normal. So it further confirmed things for you because people around you did or thought the same way. If you were to go a few states or countries over, things were drastically different. But that’s THEIR normal. If you don’t travel much out of your hometown, you don’t get to see a whole lot of that. You’re safe and comfortable in your bubble. But the moment someone starts adopting exterior beliefs or moves to town from a completely different environment, the judgement begins. All of a sudden an outsider has infiltrated our safety zone and we feel threatened. Perhaps it’s more like vulnerability that we mistake for a threat. We feel vulnerable that someone different is going to disturb our sense of comfort. Maybe it goes back to our ancestors. When a new person showed up and infiltrated their tribe, it was usually to harm them. Hell, anything could be possible. I’m just throwing out ideas.
But why do we look at the way someone else was raised and automatically say it’s wrong? You have your normal and they have theirs. America is now fully diverse. Each ethnicity (not entirely, but for the most part) has their own culture, beliefs, music, food, and general way of doing things. Just because it’s different than yours doesn’t make it wrong and it damn sure doesn’t make yours better. Everyone brings their own uniqueness to this world and now to this country. Just think of what could happen if you embraced someone different than yourself. What could you learn? You might grab some cool shit that you could incorporate into your household. You could expose your children to some fun and different things they could pass on to their children. You know, shake it up a bit!
Now if you don’t want to incorporate something new into your household because you’re content the way it is, that’s your business. But at least show respect for other cultures. You don’t have to agree and you might not understand it, but you should respect it and the place it occupies in our country/world. After all, don’t you want them to respect yours? It’s not your normal so it might be a shock. It might make you tilt your head to the side and say, “I don’t get it?” It might not make any sense to you at all. You might not ever be able to put yourself in their shoes. But remember . . . they are probably doing the exact same thing to you.
We are all protective of the beliefs and traditions that are precious to us and our loved ones, but we can be protective while still being open and respectful . . . I promise. And just because your values and opinions are precious to you, it still doesn’t mean they’re the only ones out there. They just happen to be yours. You just happened to be born in the place you were born, to the one(s) you call your parents, and experienced your way of life.
If everyone in the world was the same, it would be one boring ass place. We wouldn’t have the same contributions to society. Music, research, food, sports, fashion, television, and architecture are just a FEW things that are the way they are because a diverse population of people contribute differently to it. We NEED diversity in this country. Think of all the things you get to enjoy because someone different from yourself shared it with us.
Before you oppose, criticize, or hate someone just because of the way they look, think, love, or believe, take one thing into consideration. Does it directly and negatively impact you and your loved one’s every day life? If it doesn’t, don’t allow it to take up space in your thoughts, conversations, and heart. It will lift such a burden and allow you so much peace. I am asking you to do this on an individual by individual basis. For example, a neighbor down the street, a co-worker, or the new sweetheart of a loved one. They may have different political views, follow another religion, choose someone of the same sex to love, tattoo their body, wear bizarre clothing, or were born with another skin color. Remember that it’s not YOUR life, it’s theirs. Live your life how you want and allow others to do the same free of your judgement. We all deserve to live our lives happily and freely without ridicule.
Travel has really opened up the eyes of this girl born and raised in Mississippi. I personally believe that if you get out and see more of the world, you will become awakened—and possibly even enlightened—to the diversity that’s out there. Maybe that’s why I’m so drawn to traveling. I just don’t want to settle for every opinion or mindset in my own backyard. We are a smaller piece of this huge world. To think that what we see, think, and feel is the only way is not only selfish but ignorant.
We’re all just people trying to live our lives. We do what’s best for us and our situations using the information we were given. But we aren’t all given the same information and we don’t process it in the same way. Remember that. Not everyone was raised like you, looks like you, loves like you, believes like you, or thinks like you. However, we are all free thinking individuals. So guess what? YOU get to choose what you think and how you embrace others. Disrespecting them is not going to make them go away. It’s just going to cause YOU more stress. The faster we start seeing people for who they are—people—and accepting their differences, the more we will be able to accomplish together.