Can I tell you something about me?
Some of it is obvious, some of it is less obvious (but it’s stuff that you probably already know) and some of it is information that I’ve never shared here before.
Ready? Here goes:
I’m a black man, I’m in an interracial marriage (with two bi-racial daughters), I’m politically liberal, I don’t follow any organized religion (I choose spirituality instead), and I’m one of the only people I know who hates the taste of chocolate.
But, enough about me. Let’s see how you’re doing.
It’s possible that you actually might like me more after reading the previous sentence, but if so, this post isn’t about you.
I want to address the people who may like me less after reading the opening to this blog post.
If you’re one of those people (and if you’re still reading this blog post), keep reading. I have something for you.
The Danger in Our Differences
Here’s where this gets interesting.
For those of you who may think less of me because of my political leanings, are disturbed by the fact that I would ever consider marrying interracially and bring bi-racial kids into this world, or are horrified that I don’t go to church on Sundays, let me ask you something.
I’m still same guy I was before you clicked on this blog post. I still believe that kindness is the most positive force in the universe. I am still fighting on a near-daily basis to eradicate workplace bullying (and bullying of any kind, really) from this world forever. Most of all, I’m still committed to spending the rest of my life to do everything within my power to make this world a more positive place for me, you and for every future generation that follows us.
That’s not so bad, right? So, why does it matter who I voted for, who I chose to marry and how I choose to spend my Sunday mornings?
Or more directly, what’s the point of being fixated on some minor differences that really don’t matter, except for in your own mind? Unfortunately, way too many people fall into the same destructive trap on a daily basis. Let me show you what I mean.
Here are some of the less-than-positive (read: insane) things that I’ve heard/read this year so far, and we’re only a month and a half into it:
“These Democrats make me sick. They’re all a bunch of freeloading, welfare-addicted bums who are a drain on our society.”
“I hate Republicans. They are all either greedy and money-obsessed, or they’re inbred, uneducated, racist rednecks.”
“Gay people are disgusting, and they are all going to burn in hell.”
“I hate sitting next to a retard at a restaurant. They always gross me out and make me lose my appetite.”
“Why do all of these black football players act like thugs? It’s like they’re animals.”
“You’re a damned fool for trusting any white person.”
I don’t get it.
Why is it that when we focus on our differences, negativity predictably follows?
More importantly, why is it that when we focus on our similarities, positivity and acceptance follows?
The truth is that we are all way more similar than we are different, so why are we acting like we have nothing in common with each other?
It’s time for a reality check.
Yes, We’re Pretty Much All The Same
I want you to think of someone who you think that you have nothing in common with. Let me tell you something about that person:
- She has hopes and dreams that she desperately wants to achieve before she dies.
- She has fears and insecurities, and many of them are similar to the ones that you have.
- She wants to be happy and to be loved.
- She wants to feel that the work that she does matters.
- She has moments where she hates who is staring back at her in the bathroom mirror.
- She loves her kids and worries about their well-being often.
- She has drama in her life that you could never begin to understand.
In other words, she’s a lot like you. And me. And everyone else you know and have ever known.
This is so logical, isn’t it? Science actually backs this up too. From DNA perspective, we’re 99.9% the same. Unfortunately, logic separates from our best intentions in a hurry when all that we care about are our differences. That’s when smart people end up doing very dumb things, like fighting about the 0.1% that makes us different.
Yes, this insanity has to stop.
The Only Difference That Will Ever Matter
Take a look at the babies in the picture at the top of this blog post. Adorable, right?
They don’t know anything about differences. They don’t understand hate. They don’t care if the other babies sitting nearby will grow up to be Christians, Muslims, Democrats, Republicans, gay, straight, Taylor Swift or Kanye West fans.
But chances are that there’s someone reading this who does, and that’s a problem. At least it is to me.
Because it’s people like them who will eventually teach the babies in the picture above that there’s something very wrong with people who look different than they do, or think differently than they do. Then, predictably, those innocent babies will grow into fearful adults who believe that their differences from others somehow matter more than their similarities.
Here’s how I see it. There are only two types of people in the world:
1) The ones who are making this world a more positive place to live by consistently treating others with kindness, respect and love.
2) The ones who are doing the opposite.
That’s it. That might be too simple for some people, but it works for me. That’s the only diversity that I give a damn about.
Do you know what I don’t give a damn about?
If you’re black or white, have tattoos/piercings (or don’t), vote conservative or liberal, wear a hoodie or a bow tie, listen to country music or hip-hop, whether you’re a Christian or atheist, a janitor or a CEO, or any other nonsensical excuse that’s used to justify withholding kindness, respect and love from a fellow human being.
The longer that we focus on our differences instead of similarities, the longer this world loses.
And I need it to win. So do the babies in the picture. So do you.
We’re the same. It’s time that we act like it.
What is easier for you to see in other people–your similarities to them or your differences to them? Jump into the comments below and make your voice heard!