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Culture of Difference: Can Our Differences Bring Us Together?

It is our differences that bring us together, We share exactly the same dreams, We are not all the same, How can we come together? Our differences can bring us together, Be impeccable with your word, Not to take anything personally, Not to make assumptions, Always do your best, Be skeptical but learn to listen

Can Our Differences Bring Us Together?

Despite our differences, we usually try to think about ways to get along with others. Or you can withdraw from those who disagree with you to avoid having to deal with conflict. Can our differences be seen as a way to communicate with each other?

What if everyone thinks the same way? Would not this create a bland and boring world? We will soon become satisfied and accept everything as it is, ignoring the possibility that changes may be needed or even possible.

(1) We share exactly the same dreams

The only way to live peacefully in the world we live in now is to stop thinking and ask ourselves whether things could be better, and do our best to help create a better world. It would presume that everyone is equal and is treated as such.

Many of us share exactly the same dreams. We would like to live in peace, to have a decent living space, to have enough food, to be able to provide for our children and prepare them to eventually make their own way of life. There is no controversy about that. I cannot imagine anyone consciously trying to prevent another person from pursuing these goals.

(2) We are not all the same

However, we are not all the same. Some of us are born into families with parents who know how to work together and raise us to lead a satisfactory and productive life with the resources to do so. Others have parents who have struggled to survive or may not have learned what it means to be a good parent. Some parents grew up in the shadow of violence or deprivation. It is all they can do to survive themselves.

Some of us have learned from their parents that we are all responsible for each other. Others have learned that it is everyone for themselves and that you have to fight for what you want. Others still see the resources of the world as limited and that you have to grab what you want before others get there first. 

These observations highlight the differences in the way we view life. If you see life as a joint venture, working together toward meeting all of our needs is much easier. If you have been deprived of necessities, not to mention the joys of life, you may find it difficult to think about the needs of others. It may that all you can do is take care of yourself. 

(3) How can we come together?

If we are all so different, how can we come together or support each other in our lives? I think we need to start with an understanding of what the circumstances of past and current life are like for each other. It is easier to communicate with others with similar experiences to our own. Getting to know others whose lives are so different from ours will help us to appreciate their struggles. Despite these differences, I think it is the rare person who has not had some struggle and challenge times that make life difficult. The key is to find ways in which our conflicts are similar to those of others and to learn about their differing circumstances. 

I think the biggest challenge is to understand others who are angry at their misfortune. If you are one of them, it will be more difficult because you then have your own anger to contend with. Understanding these people may help you appreciate the blessings in your own life, or it may help you know how others cope with their difficulties. How others cope with their own struggles may provide some lessons for struggles.

It is our differences that bring us together, We share exactly the same dreams, We are not all the same, How can we come together? Our differences can bring us together, Be impeccable with your word, Not to take anything personally, Not to make assumptions, Always do your best, Be skeptical but learn to listen

After I have discussed whether our differences could bring us together, now I would like to think about how this might happen. 

(4) How can our differences bring us together?

This may seem an impossible task at first sight. We seem to be more polarized each day and pulled to extreme positions. This only creates resentment, unpleasant feeling, and is destructive to any sense of cohesion. What is required to reverse this trend? 

I think the key is how we look at and think about ourselves and others. Let’s think about how these five agreements below might guide us in our interactions with others, and help us use our differences constructively. 

(a) To be impeccable with your word

This suggests saying what you mean and meaning what you say. It also means speaking only the truth. Lies evoke mutual distrust. We will never be able to reach an agreement with others if we lie to them. 

(b) Not to take anything personally

It must be remembered that people say and do things for their own purposes, whether they are expressing their beliefs or working towards what is important to them. They do nothing to attack you unless you both agree to be in conflict. Remember that you are also acting in your own best interests, and that you are not doing anything to harm anyone, either. 

(c) Not to make assumptions

Sometimes we tend to assume that others believe in the same way we do or just the opposite. Do you like it when somebody assumes things about you? If you find yourself with such assumptions, find a gentle way to check them out and do not initiate an argument or war in the process. 

(d) To always do your best

This suggests not to expect perfection from yourself or from others. Do the best you can. If someone disagrees with your approach, try listening first and explaining second. 

(e) To be skeptical but learn to listen

This suggests that you are not always right and neither is anyone else. It is okay to question your own opinions as well as those of others. What is the evidence on which you both have founded your beliefs? Can you hear each other out without attacking? It takes practice.

There is a tradition which many thinkers have passed on. Before you speak, it is wise to ask yourself whether what you want to say is true (agreement 1), whether it is necessary (agreement 5), and whether what you have to say is nice (agreement 4). This does not mean that you have to examine every word coming out of your mouth, but it suggests that you need to pay attention to what you say and the impact that your words have on others. 

Even more important than what you say is how you listen. If you are considering ways to counteract everything you hear, it will be a short conversation. How different would it be if you were to listen carefully and ask for clarification on anything you do not understand or disagree with. 

If you can do this with every person you meet and others can do the same with you, we will have made a good start towards resolving our differences... Give it a try!

Elsayed Farouk

Arabic-Egyptian translator and blogger - I share my experience in a simple way that suits everyone..... (مترجم ومدون عربي مصري - أشارك خبرتي بأسلوب مبسط يناسب الجميع)
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