Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Vive la différence!

A while back, I saw something that really set me to thinking. It was one of those East Tennessee scorchers: temperatures in the middle 90s and the humidity even higher. I was in a department store, leaning on a clothes rack, enjoying the air conditioning more than the shopping, and I observed a woman wearing a garment that covered her from head to toe, leaving only her face exposed, walking toward front of the store. Since her feet were not visible, she seemed to be gliding along the floor. Coming from the opposite direction was a young lady dressed in short shorts, a low-cut, belly-exposing top, and noisy flip-flops. As they passed each other right in front of me, they exchanged the briefest of glances, and continued on their way.

These two women didn’t stare at each other, they didn’t smirk or scoff; they merely registered the presence of the other, and moved on with their lives, completely accepting their differences.

The differences are what got me to thinking. We all have differences. What a boring world it would be if we didn’t. None of us is the same. Everyone is unique. But do we embrace that uniqueness? Do we revel in our individuality?

Sadly, the answer for most is “No.” Why? Why do some of us (“humans”) dwell on the differences? Why do we put ourselves out to hide our own differences? Why do we point them out in others? Why do we chastise, ridicule, and bully those we find different? Are we so arrogant that we find joy in degrading others? How can we completely ignore our own shortcomings and elevate those of others to such lofty heights as to announce them to the world as strange?

Until we see differences in each other and our mental alarms are not triggered, there will be bigotry, hatred, and bullying.  The day someone can achieve something amazing without be labeled as “the first (insert skin color, gender, sexual preference here) to…”, then we will be well on our way to complete acceptance of the differences that set us all apart, while bringing us closer together.

Oh, for the day when differences are accepted completely without somebody pointing out that acceptance!  The more we crow about accepting another’s differences in the name of tolerance, the more we’re just highlighting those differences, most times to those who would have never noticed them in the first place.

Accept people’s differences, but don’t brag about doing it. Learn tolerance without shouting, “Hey, everybody, look how good I am, I’m tolerant of (insert name here)!”

We all have differences. Accept it. Vive la différence!

Sometimes, different is good! Show us your different writing style! Show us how you created a different story! Enter our 2014 Short Story Writing Contest!