Seems everyone is triggered these days. After this year's most hotly-contested election, our American society is seemingly becoming more and more divided. Issues such as gender equality, racial equality, and freedom of religion are commonly debated face to face or via social media. However, these debates today are increasingly becoming less about logic and reasoning and more about simply being on the opposing side. There is a problem with only talking and not listening. In the end, everyone is talking over each other and no one is open enough to consider a new point of view. Some may think this is no big deal but the point is the very essence of the human race depends on openness in order to allow progress as a society.
Historically, people have been known to live and die for their beliefs. Further more, many have sacrificed themselves, in the name of their beliefs, only because someone else came along with a different set of practices. The unfortunate result of this has been violence and oppression. But why is this? Well it’s simple, fear. People naturally fear change from tradition. This is understandable only because people live and base their whole life around their belief system. So to question or even threaten their beliefs system is parallel to threatening their very way of life.
This fear of change, as history has proven, only leads to misunderstanding, confusion and ultimately hatred. But how can we prevent this from going this far? A common answer to this question is simply tolerance. Now this is term has been used for years in aid to bring people together. The only thing is, tolerance doesn’t seem to be the best term for use of it’s intention. The definition of the word tolerance according to oxford dictionary is; The ability or willingness to tolerate the existence of opinions or behavior that one dislikes or disagree with. Although use of the term tolerance has very good intentions it also hindering at the same time.
Simply being tolerant of others doesn’t allow much room for people to open their minds to a belief and/or culture that differ from theirs. Not to be confused with the idea that everyone should abandon their views and sprout for something new. What openness allows is appreciation. Appreciation for others allows the comfort of either joining in on said belief system/culture, or the option of merely appreciating the contribution that belief system/culture has made to our society. Our society is highly individualistic causing the human race to have a myriad creed and customs. And for thousands of years these very dogmas and practices have shaped the society we live in now. They have contributed to the arts, food, architecture and countless other things that envelop peoples day to day lives.
Appreciating different contributions means to also understand those very differences, leaving no room for fear. Without fear, people are free to learn from one another, permitting a chance to listen to a different perspective that would not have been present otherwise. The human race is one race, one collective group of beautiful eclectic individuals pushing their way towards progress. And progress demands appreciation; it demands understanding; it demands courage. It demands freedom.