We Don’t Know How to Handle Differences

Por em 27/07/2015

One of our worst contradictions is that we want to be unique and original, while expecting everyone else to think and even feel just as we do. As soon as we’re faced with a disagreement, even over the most mundane subjects, such as a movie we love or a song we hate, our democratic and enlightened façade is gone. From soccer to religion, we are intolerant: not only do we want everyone else to believe in our god, but also perceive him in the same way.

Our minds don’t trust people who are different, with whom we do not identify or who we do not understand. Emotionally, we don’t tolerate difference because it makes us feel alone and vulnerable. A minor disagreement over an irrelevant issue can create a chasm between people, especially if they honestly believe in what they’re saying and are sure they’re right.

Relationships can only survive when we notice how rich it is to encounter with different ways of thinking. Everyone claims to be tolerant and understanding, but the truth is that most people feel insulted by differences and disagreements; this is the root of bigotry, that is to say, hasty and negative generalizations we make. Maybe none of us are completely free, or even aware, of our own prejudices, whether racial, religious, political or intellectual, which are revealed when we shame and make fun of others whose difference disturbs us. These insults are used to hide the truth: we are disguising our inferiority feelings with a show of contempt for others.

We tend to evaluate people and compare ourselves to them, so inevitably, we come to the conclusion that some people are better than others; we never even consider that they might just be different. We judge according to our personal standards, and don’t want to understand other people, or their standards; after all, that would mean we’d have to reevaluate our own. As long as we keep thinking this way, we’ll make the same mistakes: we feel pride, when we believe we are on top, and envy, when we don’t. This vicious cycle has terrible consequences; and one example is the war of the sexes. Men and women are considerably different, from how they think to their anatomy, and since men declared their superiority over women, based on their standards, they’ve been spending a lot of energy trying to prove their supremacy – which would be unnecessary, if men really believed they’re better than women. Feminism, however, hasn’t helped that much in freeing our thoughts from the need to evaluate and rank who is better. Women are not inferior, nor the same as men. They are different. But these differences do not have to be measured as better or worse; they must just be respected.

Tradução: Amanda Morris

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