The United States is a floral bouquet of diversity, which is why acceptance is a key to unlocking reason, understanding and cooperation. The Founding Fathers wrote the Bill of Rights and the Constitution to protect the right of an individual to be different from others in many areas of life: religion, speech, political opinions, and more. I’ve been a school teacher working with at-risk students for over thirty-five years.
My job was to teach them, help them gain self-confidence, and prepare them for the future. I didn’t have the luxury of only accepting those who loved school, smelled good, cooperated and were willing to learn what I was offering, because it was the rule to teach everyone.
Students, like the rest of us, want attention. If that attention isn’t forthcoming in a positive way, some behave in a way that gets them negative attention. Even punishment is recognition of existence. We all have a need to be listened to and to share who we are and what we think. Although our ideas might conflict, each day can be an opportunity to understand others rather than just “get” ours. Can we share our ideas without calling names in an attempt to be understood? Can we seek to understand rather than closing our hearts and minds? If that is what we want for our children in the classroom, couldn’t it also work for us?
If we accept that people have a right to disagree with us, and we pay attention to who they are, we might learn things about them we appreciate. Those “things” may have nothing to do with issues of conflict.
Mothering, creating a team, and supporting one another through hard times are all ways of creating one of the myriad types of community. Members of a fellowship share interests, thoughts and feelings. They are concerned about one another whether it is rooting at a game, praying for good health, or doing a favor. Members have common rules, rituals and language. And, finally they have a common goal, whether it is appreciation for a hobby, a place in Heaven, or a world view. Sharing, concern, a customary behavior pattern and a mutual goal engender trust. So far the twenty-first century has been fraught with fear and insecurity. I think it’s time for a new approach to one another.