Why are we so afraid of people being different?

I’ve been thinking a lot about the differences between people lately. 

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We are all different. Not necessarily in the way we look, but in the way we think. Even two people from the same culture with relatively similar upbringings can think in completely different ways.

Have you ever been frustrated because you just can’t understand someone? You just can’t understand why they would do something?

ISIS, for example. They’re a bunch of twisted, brainwashed monsters, aren’t they?

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But this sort of brutality happens all the time, everywhere. If it’s possible to reduce it all down or give it a reason, I’d say it’s a fear of difference.

People of all religions, races, genders, sexualities and political beliefs are persecuted. It’s happened throughout history to British people and by British people. We saw black-skinned people in Africa and freaked out. We captured them, raped them, murdered them and tortured them mentally and physically for centuries. We’ve done it to countless people all over the world. We do it now, slyly, secretly through government corruption and the powerful force of Britain’s media making everything seem like everybody else’s problem.

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It seems like anything that shakes our idea of the world, anything that challenges the truth we believe in, turns us into raging, angry, murderous monsters.

We find it so hard to tolerate each other’s differences.

Perhaps I’m being too extreme by talking about terrorism and war. But it happens on a smaller everyday level too within companies and families and relationships.

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People fall out over differences. Marriages break down, friendships rupture, even the tightest of familial bonds start to fray when you can no longer tolerate each other’s differences.

The littlest, silliest of clashes can eventually escalate into big problems, unless you can learn to accept them.

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And that’s what it all comes down to. Acceptance. Not empathy. Empathy is a gift that very few people truly have. Most of us are pretty good at imagining how we would feel in a situation – but not necessarily how someone else would feel. On that note I do have one friend – one I grew up with, who’s probably the most empathetic person I’ve ever met. She seems to visibly take on your pain, whatever it is, like she feels what you’re going through. It’s a quality I’m not sure she even knows she has.

But all of us are capable of acceptance. Acceptance shows that you value the other person as much as you value yourself. Because the truth is – your idea of the way things should be is no more right or wrong than theirs.

Acceptance is about acknowledging that someone is different to you, and letting them be.

It’s a crucial part of being in a happy relationship. You’re probably not going to be exactly the same as your partner. You’re probably going to want different things sometimes, and behave in different ways, and not understand each other, and question their decisions. But if you love them, you make room for them. You stop projecting all of your own needs and expectations onto them. You realise that your idea of ‘right’ might not be right, and you listen to them. It has to be a mutual thing, and an ongoing effort for the rest of your lives (I’m available for wedding speeches).

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But in terms of world peace…I don’t know if humans will ever be brave or compassionate enough to tolerate each other’s differences completely. I think there is a socialist quality to our DNA; a need to go forth as one and weed out the mavericks.

Sometimes it makes me feel sad, knowing that we will always want to hurt each other. But other times I just watch Come Dine With Me and stop thinking.

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