By Samantha McKenzie
One of the beauties of living in a free country is that we get to express our individual beliefs and value systems. We have the privilege of being different and the joy of living our choices out loud.
It’s not unusual that we tend to hang around people who are just like us. We seek out friends based on the things we have in common. It’s exciting to share our lives with people who like to do the things that we like to do. And it’s comfortable. But it’s our differences that challenge us to grow.
Allowing ourselves to learn about other things and other people help us expand our thinking. It also allows us to be more understanding with one another.
If you’re a Christian, it doesn’t hurt to learn more about Buddhism. If you’re a Democrat, it’s important to learn about Republican principles. If you’re heterosexual, have a seat with a someone in the LGBTQ community and listen to their story.
We’ve wound our freedom up into a tiny little box and unconsciously refuse to let anyone in. We’re so free that we live in tight knit communities around people who look like us and get frightened when anyone “different” moves in the neighborhood. We’ve somehow allowed our differences to make us uncomfortable.
Engaging with people of other ways of life won’t make you lose your identity. It doesn’t mean that you will have to change who you are. It will actually help you become smarter…better.
I challenge us to rip the figurative box that we live in and start over. Let’s put aside our biases and fears and embrace the other parts of our humanity. I guarantee that you’ll actually have fun.
Expand your friendships. Read different authors. Travel to new places. Taste different foods. Learn a new language. Talk to people who aren’t a part of your same race, gender, religion or political party. Get comfortable with our differences and grow.