Monday, February 22, 2010

Celebrating Differences

Because God creates people who have unique appearances, talents, interests, and personalities, He finds diversity beautiful. Much suffering is created when we allow the differences of others to destroy our peace. Of course, we need to set healthy boundaries to protect ourselves from those who would injure us, but as we celebrate one another’s differences and show loving kindness to those around us, we experience greater peace of mind and compassion for ourselves and others.

Here are some differences we can celebrate:

• Whether we are tall or short, thick or thin, dark- or light-skinned, we are divine creations. The media lies when it says that women need large chests, long hair, no wrinkles, and tiny waists and noses to be pretty. It lies when it says that men need big muscles, distinctive abs, and chiseled features to be handsome. As we see the beauty in others, we celebrate our own beauty as well.

• Each of us has amazing gifts and talents. Some may be more noticeable or celebrated than others, but each of our talents is invaluable. Some are great listeners and counselors. Others are skilled artists, musicians, writers, speakers, thinkers, analysts, advisors, teachers, or leaders. No one’s gift is less valued or valuable than another’s.

• Some are educated in universities while others learn from the college of hard knocks or from life experience. Each person has much to teach others, whether they are a grade school drop-out or a PhD. My dad dropped out of school when he was twelve to support his family, and is one of the wisest and smartest men I know. (He was also a successful business and entrepreneur.) I’m grateful for the education I was blessed to obtain, but learn much from my friends who did not have an opportunity or inclination to go to college.

• Whether we are old or young or in between, we have much to teach others and much to learn from others. I learn wisdom and mindfulness from my ninety-year old friends. I learn how to live in the moment, to quickly forgive, and to celebrate the wonders of life from children. I have friends in each decade of life and cherish each one of them.

• Whether we are rich or poor, we have infinite worth. Our culture celebrates wealth,and although it’s nice when we have enough money to help those in need, many who struggle financially can teach us so much. One of my dearest friends survives on a few hundred dollars of disability benefits each month and has taught me so much about finding joy and peace amid poverty. She gives freely from her meager income, and receives abundantly from the love and kindness of others.

• Racial, cultural, and religious differences have separated people for centuries. When God tells us He is no respecter of persons, He must feel sad when we judge and condemn others because of their color, beliefs, or upbringing. We enrich our lives when we include in our circle of friendship people from different cultural and religious backgrounds.

• Politics can become so divisive if we allow them to be. Our immediate family has members of several political persuasions, and we can share our ideas respectfully around the dinner table. No political party has a monopoly on truth or integrity, nor does any political commentator.

Just as every snowflake is unique and exquisite, every person is an original, beautiful, divine creation. As we focus on the strengths of others and celebrate differences, we will enhance the peace in our hearts and homes.

© Carol Brown

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