There is significant focus on diversity in workplaces at present. I have lost count of how many conversations I’ve heard about how ‘we need to tolerate differences”.
“I speak to everyone in the same way, whether he is the garbage man or the president of the university.” Albert Einstein
Is tolerance our highest goal as a society? In our families? Our friendships? Have you heard also the statements about how we need to be more tolerant of each other? How we must tolerate other cultures? Other belief systems? Other ways of life?
To me it always sounds so patronising and disrespectful to assume that someone is so far beneath my own moral or social standing that I merely “tolerate” or put up with their existence. I always imagine that this “tolerant” attitude is accompanied by intense eye rolling and a sideways thrust of the hip. But is this really the best that we can do when we notice differences between ourselves and others? Instead of tolerance, could we try respect? Respect for our differences? Respect for their choices. Respect for them. Can’t we see ourselves as being separate enough to be allowed to have our own identities and therefore make different choices? And yet realise that we are similar in that we are all just working through life, doing the best we can to be true to ourselves, just as they are?
Their differences are not about you. How they live their life, what they believe in, who they pray to, or who they go to bed with is not about you at all. So, don’t get all up inside someone else’s business. Be mindful of your own business and respect whatever life others have chosen to live for themselves.
“There are some people who always seem angry and continuously look for conflict. Walk away; the battle they are fighting isn’t with you, it is with themselves.” Unknown
By Tasha Broomhall