Why are we so fixated with sameness? Busy trying to find common ground, a place where our realities meet so we can be unified, safe and comfortable. Because heaven forbid, our lives be shaken, our experience be questioned and we walk into a world different than our own.
We profess to value qualities of leadership, bravery, kindness. We see posters, mission statements and campaigns that promote these traits as necessary for a unified society. But where are they in practice?
A unified society is a society where differences are celebrated, respected, valued. Because who actually wants sameness all the time? Isn’t that why we travel? Isn’t that why we experience new things? To find novelty, newness, something unique and original?
Where is the beauty in the gray? There isn’t. But there is beauty in the vibrant colors of the rainbow.
But when you step into the arena and stand for what you believe.. where is the kindness when it shakes the status quo? Where is the celebration of our uniqueness? Where is the honoring of ideas that are different than your own? Where is the unity in our differences?
What I see when I look out my window is different than what you see. Does that make your view better than mine? Or have you just gotten used to seeing the same thing so often that you’ve forgotten about your smallness in this world?
Have you forgotten?
There is no requirement to agree. In relationships, in communication, in society, we don’t always agree. And we don’t have to. There is beauty that lies in what makes us different as long as there is respect. Where is the respect though? What makes my view better than yours…or yours better than mine? In the end, aren’t they all illusive?
But bravery…how does one turn its back on the bravery? Rare and unteachable, easier in thought than practice, and the trait that makes our children steadfast in their convictions, bravery should be a universal trait worthy of praise.
Everybody wants to be brave until that bravery leads to persecution, to hatred, to retaliation. Because bravery leads to the path of most resistance.
How are we celebrating bravery while silencing their voices?
If we teach our children to suppress their convictions, we are also teaching them to stay silent through injustices. At what point do we value their ability for discernment? We teach them to conform and follow rules, no matter the irrationality of them only to find ourselves questioning what has gone wrong when we have a society of silenced women who have held back years of mistreatment in the name of compliance and fear. And what would have happened if “the mother of the freedom movement” never resisted racial segregation? You remember her, right?
I would rather stand beside a child who stands for something than stay on the sidelines teaching my kids to coward to any request made of them. Silenced children become adults who don’t know how to advocate for themselves, who follow the crowds, who fear their own convictions, who submit to any request made of them, who go blindly through life putting their livelihoods second to society’s expectations.
Even worse, their true voice never dies. Their convictions still live beneath the expectations placed upon them. It just turns into more injustice in the world. Those who are controlled, grow up to control. Those who are suppressed, grow up to suppress. Because truth stays at a constant simmer, right beneath the surface, just waiting for the temperature to get hot enough to roar into a boil.
Let’s place value on our differences and honor bravery, no matter its form, because we can all learn something from one another if we just listen. Silencing the growing minds of our children is a mistake that bears no redemption.