It's okay to be different. In fact, it is our differences that keep our society strong. Diversity is essential to a healthy community, so why do we look down on those who are different from us? Why do we allow our disagreements or differences to cause division?
What is a disagreement? Disagreements are really just differences of opinion. The most common disagreements come from difference of preference (i.e. favorite sports team, political affiliation, etc.) Disagreements are usually minor enough not to cause division. In fact, several relationships are strengthened by disagreement, as all parties form a mutual respect for one another. It is only when we place our emotions above our relationships that division can begin to grow.
While disagreements blown out of proportion are a major cause of division, not all division comes from a disagreement.The worst kind of division is born from discrimination on irrelevant factors rather than moral behavior. If everyone agreed to disagree and appreciate each other's uniqueness this wouldn't be a problem, but all too often that is not the case.
What is division? Division is the worst poison known to mankind. It separates what was once whole and destroys relationships and encourages hostility between individuals and groups. There is nothing more toxic to a community than division. Does all division start with a disagreement? No, but all division does start with differences. It's all a matter of how we view those differences. Differences by themselves aren't bad. It's how we view those differences that affect our relationships.
Everyone wants to feel validated—like they belong. Some try to find that validation in being themselves, others try to find it by demeaning those who they see as different. This growing trend has been called an epidemic of hate, I call it an epidemic of loneliness.
So what can we do about this? How can we avoid unnecessary division and work to preserve our relationships? What can we do now, before our emotions escalate into the kind of division that forms rifts in relationships? I think sometimes we forget we're on the same team. I think sometimes we feel threatened by new or different ideas and get defensive, putting our walls up and refusing to even try to understand them.
What if we chose to take steps to avoid division? What if we decided to approach our differences objectively without allowing our feelings to take over and cause us to hurt ourselves and others? What if we became the catalyst for positive change in our communities? What if we stopped division before it happened and essentially poured water on fires rather than gasoline?
The answer is a kind of unity that can only be formed when people live intentionally to support each other. When people realize that their differences are their greatest asset and that they are stronger when they come together, everything changes. It won't happen overnight, but we can change this culture of hate and loneliness if we refuse to allow our emotions to control the way we see others.
We need to learn to respect and understand each other's opinions and differences so we can come together stronger than ever.