Just because we are different, does not mean that we cannot be one.
Those who know me personally know, I am a strongly opinionated man. I couldn't pinpoint one singular reason to explain why I am the way I am. Maybe it has to do with my my mother, who is the same way, or perhaps it can be explained by having 9 siblings, and me needing to be a very unique individual in order to stand out and be heard. Regardless of how, I am, and thus I shall be until I die. I also so happen to be quite loud and outspoken.
Due to this somewhat unholy combination of traits, I tend to share my opinions with just about anyone who will listen to what I have to say. This of course, leads to most of my friends knowing what I believe in. I have had many a conversation with my friends about our religious, political, and ethical beliefs. One of my favorite things to speak of is how we, as humans, think. However, in doing this, I have learned that just because I enjoy talking about these things openly, does not mean others are the same way.
I have found that many people tend to stray away from the type of conversations that include talking of their personal beliefs- but that is only when the conversation does not support their beliefs. I suppose this makes sense. It is difficult speaking about something you hold a firm belief on with someone who shares a different or opposite opinion, and not feel as if you must defend yourself. We as humans tend to want to be right. Maybe it is pride, maybe it is some inborn part of who we all are that drives this need, but regardless, it is there.
I have had friends before, who, when I or others would try to talk about certain topics (that we all knew many of us wouldn't agree on) would try to have us talk about other things.
"I don't want us to argue! We can just talk about other things" they would say, in an attempt to keep the peace. However, in this attempt to be a peacekeeper, I fear that often there would be limitations to the growth of all of those in the conversation. Without conflict, without a difference of opinion, and a conversation about these differences, there is no solidification nor growth of one's character and beliefs.
Of course it can be hard to speak to people about something such as religion when you both hold opposing views. If the present party is not careful, the conversation can often become sour, leading to contention, hurt feelings, or anger. However, it is my firm belief that when we are humble enough to share our opinions with others, and hear their opinions in turn, these conflicting opinions lead to growth. It is the very differences in our faiths and our ideals that make us the wonderful, beautiful, and unique humans that we are. When two views collide against one another, and come out of the furnace of debate, not argument, alive and still intact, they are refined and strengthened to a degree not seen in them before. If you are not challenged in your thoughts, if your way of life is not questioned, and you are allowed a smooth and trial free experience, then how can you say you know for certain that what you believe in is even true? It is the difficulties of life, the things that bring us doubt and pain, the things that drive us to the brink of insanity, that make us sane. They push us to a point where we are so low, that we hold on by only a thread to the foundations of our ideologies- and from that newly strengthened foundation, we can thrive.
Let us not shun the idea of differences. Let us not hide from the fact that we disagree on things, that we come from different cultures. When we do that, we breed fear, distrust, extreme prejudice, racism, and other horrid things. Be accepting of the one who does not share your way of life, so that they can strengthen yours.
Let us be different, yet let us be united in kindness.