I think we’d all agree that life would be pretty bland and boring if there were no differences between people. And yet most of us recoil from differences, at least at first. A famous song says “You have to be carefully taught,” the message being that children are born tolerant and must be taught prejudice in order to develop it. But a quick look at reality shows this not to be true. Children naturally tease, taunt, bully, and torment the peer who is awkward in groups, looks funny, is clumsy, wears coke-bottle glasses, or is in any other way different. It seems that an intolerance, even sadistic behavior toward people who do not fit our definition of “normal” is bred in the human bone.
It’s dangerous not to acknowledge this and pretend otherwise. That’s the root of hypocrisy. We all have it in us to be bigots. To overrule our primitive feelings we have to start by recognizing them in the first place, and then remind ourselves how much we in fact benefit from differences between people.
Am I saying it’s good to struggle with social skills, or be uncoordinated or argumentative? Is it desirable to be undesirable? Of course not. But I am saying that the greater good lies in looking past the supposedly undesirable trait and finding the value in every person, as well as the value of cultivating, not attacking differences.
It is afterall the differences that animate the human scene, giving it its color, verve, and energy.
My cry to the sky is let’s unite around what binds us not in hatred but in love. If not love, then tolerance at least, and going one better, a love of difference. Rising above our primitive selves, we can become our higher selves.