My closest friend was born in Korea. I belong to a tea society that is 99% African American. My Husband is a different religion than I am. My daughter attended a middle school that was 73% minority. I have almost as many gay friends as I have straight friends. My daughter attended kindergarten with a child that knew they were trans even then. She knows children who practice many different religions and are of varied nationalities I’m not bragging- I’m just giving you some facts about me. I don’t hate anyone based on how they are different from me. I choose to live in a city not just for the cultural opportunities that it affords- I choose it for the diversity. I choose to live in a large multi cultural city so that my daughter grows up knowing that people are different and that’s Ok.
My bucket list item is to visit every state. The end goal is not to have a 50 piece shot glass collection- the goal is to learn as much about people as possible. I like to learn about how people spend their time, the types of jobs that are available, the regional foods. Though I choose to live in NYC, I have visited many places that I thought were amazing. If you follow my blog, you know I fell in love with Maine, Boston and Cape Cod this year. I have met people that are vastly different from me, and some that are eerily alike. We have met people that had never met someone that lived in Manhattan. We have met people that have never met someone who is Jewish.
I read all sorts of blogs- I appreciate writing style more than actual content. I love to read when people answer “Share your World” or award questions. This is a great snippet into how other people live and think. I get more important information about life from these posts than I get from formal essays. This is when people are real- because they are just telling you about themselves- almost unguarded.
So what’s the point of all these words?
If you want to get rid of hate, I suggest the following for every single person. Every single one. No exceptions.^
- Read a blog of someone that is different from you in some way. Learn one new thing about this person every day, or whatever.
- Randomly pick a book out of the library. I don’t advocate reading something you hate- but give it a try. Try to understand something that is foreign to you
- Try food from a place you can’t even locate on a map. And don’t order the closest thing that resembles something you like. A chicken satay is not really venturing out of your comfort zone if you eat chicken all the time.
- Visit a place you have never been- whether it’s a city, a state or a country.
- Visit an environment that is different from yours. This is one thing I hate about some New Yorkers- they have such tunnel vision they can’t fathom there is life outside of the Hudson/East Rivers. When we went to Tennessee on vacation a few years ago, people kept asking if we were visiting family- they couldn’t fathom why we would go there. FYI- loved Tennessee- great state- amazing memories.
6. Read a newspaper that has opinions different from your own. Try to understand why someone has a different opinion that yours. I read something recently that most people only read things that further the beliefs they already have. This is not good- you have to understand both sides of a story. My daughter was a debater in middle school- she had to study both sides of a question. This experience was invaluable- she always thinks out both sides of an argument before coming to a conclusion. We all should be thinking both sides of an argument before coming to a conclusion.
7. Visit a house of worship different than your own. Learn about someone’s else’s faith.
What is my grand plan?
Every elementary school classroom in the US should have a partner class in another part of the country. They should exchange letters, recipes, life stories, life styles…everything. Classes can skype one another- give kids a peak into the lives of others. That’s what core curriculum should include- learning, from an early age, how people are different, yet the same- and that it’s all good.
Ending hate will require every person to make a commitment to learning about others.
I do not want this to become political. I specifically do not write about political issues, so please don’t comment about politics, no matter what your opinion is. I want to stop dividing ourselves into two factions-I want us all to embrace the differences, but find the similarities.