When Our Differences Matter

I’m sure by now you’ve seen the tragedies which occurred here in Orlando over the weekend; the first with The Voice’s Christina Grimmie being shot after a concert, and then the biggest massacre in U.S. history took place Saturday night. We still don’t have all the details despite living here. One fact, however, does seem clear at least in one respect, is that the motivation for this was a hate crime.

Apparently the shooter was so angry at those who had a sexual orientation different than he, that for some unknown reason he felt compelled to take action against them. This is a scary thought, that  a person’s differences can compel another to lash out against them in some way. Differences include: race, gender, religion, political affiliation and, one of the more recent generational differences, which is where there are presumptions and judgements to how one thinks and behaves based on their age. These judgements lead to conflicts of some type, which can get taken out of context, even leading to retaliations against a coworker or a boss.

While we need to practice more tolerance and acceptance, awareness is a key factor – knowing and understanding how someone is different can help to stop the presumptions and judgements of others. Differences don’t mean ‘bad’ – they just mean we are …different. Others are raised in a different environment and who developed their own opinions, beliefs, values and the like. Frankly, even in our families we are different and will never see situations the same because no one has our eyes and interpretations of events, which then lead to these beliefs we have.

It is when we are not willing to be more aware of the differences and be willing to understand and then accept them that problems occur. Our minds have this way of rejecting facts if our beliefs do not match, even if the proof is there. This level of denial that occurs, for whatever reason, prevents us from really seeing the truth so we fall back on what we know (or want to believe). Then, rationalization comes into play to justify our belief system (and resulting actions) to help us live with those actions.

When we make judgements, are intolerant, hold grudges, and then retaliate in some way (does not always have to be overt), then this is when our differences do matter. We cannot deny the fact that we are different but it will lead us to be more aware, open, accepting and tolerant of others. We will then develop strategies to interact more positively, in spite of these differences and have more harmony in ourselves, in our interactions with others, and in our lives overall.



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