Respecting Our Differences

March 07 2017

Respecting our Differences

Respecting Our Differences 

When you were a child and someone passed by who looked different from you, what did your mother always say? “Don’t stare, honey.” So, you looked the other way. “Don’t stare” became “don’t look.” The problem—“Don’t look” then became “don’t see.” 
Throughout my elementary school years, my mother taught a Sunday School class for adults with limited abilities. Carol, one of mother’s students, sat with us during the worship service that followed. Carol had suffered brain damage during her traumatic birth and had great difficulty sitting still. 
Carol liked sitting next to me and I liked sitting next to Carol. Mother taught me to reach over and squeeze Carol’s hand when she being a wiggle worm. Almost without exception, at least once every Sunday, I would gently squeeze her hand as a reminder that she needed to tell herself to be still. 
One particular Sunday, I was the one having trouble sitting still in the pew. Unexpectedly, Carol reached out and squeezed my hand as a signal for me to settle down. When I looked in her eyes, she winked with a nod of understanding.
With that look, Carol taught me a life-transforming lesson that I’ve never forgotten. On the inside, we’re much more alike than different, no matter how much we may differ on the outside. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could understand that we have much more in common with each other than we have differences, no matter how extreme the differences appear to be? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could respect each other’s differences as distinctions that make us unique rather than traits that put us at odds with each other?  
What if we looked at these differences as distinctions that make us unique rather than differences that put us at odds with each other? We could replace fear with cooperation. 
If we recognize our differences as distinctions to be respected, we can seize the opportunities to learn and grow. We can connect our community in ways we’ve never before considered. 
Differences separate us, but distinctions draw us closer.  
This month we’re making a special effort to respect our differences. Reach out, speak up, and engage. You might just make a new friend who changes your life for the better!  
It’s all in how you choose to look at it…I hope you’ll Choose Respect™. 

From my heart to yours, 

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