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Think Apart..Be The Observer

Have you ever sat in the mall and just observed passers by? How about a subway station in the middle of New York City? In a short time, you will see people from every race, color, financial level, age, size and gender. Yet, is this representative of how the world really is?

As diverse as our world is today with the mixing of cultures, sharing of resources and in fact, campaigns for equality, it seems that we have not progressed much over the past several hundred years. What do I mean by this?

Unfortunately, in society today, there still exists an unspoken divide. “Unspoken”, you ask? Well, of course, we all strive for racial inclusion, equality and respect for all and chant to “Stop Bullying”. But, the swirling undertow of the climate continues to pull us backwards to relive history.

So, how does this impact youth today and what can you do about it?

Youth are our future. Like our parents and all of those who have come before us, we like to talk about “kids these days”! Well, kids these days will be making decisions for us in our older years, will be influential in government, business and more importantly, impacting the lives of the younger generations.

Youth are living today within the echoes of our “diverse” society. Is it really as diverse as we think? How do adults manage diversity? Are we in fact talking the talk and walking the walk of acceptance? This is something that all of us should be asking ourselves every day.

Kids are growing up in environments where bullying and negative attitudes is frowned upon. Organizations’ campaigns and slogans revolve around acceptance, inclusion and embracing each other’s differences. But, what does that mean? 

The intent is for students to accept each other’s differences, acknowledging that we may all have our own quirks, idiosyncrasies, looks and preferences. Yet, we need to look beyond those and accept one another as just another student in a sea of students. This “sounds” wonderful and certainly demonstrates “the TALK”. How about the walk?

Climate shows something different…and I’m not talking about the weather!

Students need to in fact SEE to understand how we are all EQUAL. The student sitting next to you may be originally from another country, have an accent, may believe in different values or have different likes. Yet, does he or she brush his teeth like you do? Are the challenges at home the same or similar? Do they experience love, ‘like’ and fear in the same way?

How do you KNOW how that person handles stress or difficult situations? Have you asked? Having a no tolerance policy against bullying is certainly necessary in a school environment. But, it is not enough. Students need to interact with one another on a personal level to understand and to be empathetic.

Why is she so shy and reserved all of the time?

What makes him so angry and bitter?

Why is her hair different than mine?

Why does he like boys instead of girls?

Many children are growing up in an environment in which they have no control. Does that make them different or unlikable? NO. Just unique!

Diversity, whether it is the color or your skin, your family history, or your preferences, is all around us! We as adults need to embrace it and in fact, walk the walk. It is not only important for us to share with young people that they should not bully, that they need to be accepting and tolerant. We have to do more!

Through integration, collaboration and communication, diversity should be and CAN be a beautiful thing.

Want to learn more about how we share our differences and accept and embrace each other? Check out our Power of Peace Program.