“They’re savages! Savages!
Barely even human
Killers at the core
They’re different from us
Which means they can’t be trusted
We must sound the drums of war
They’re savages! Savages…!”
(Lyric excerpt from Disney’s ‘Pocahontas’).
All or most of us will agree (if you do not, you have the options of ‘All’ or ‘Most’ to pick from) on this one thing:
Disney knows how to make em’!
Looking back, I truly believe some folks up at Disney did their best to teach kids good values, especially the values of respecting and accepting those different from you. You don’t believe me? Check out the following:
- The Little Mermaid.
- Beauty and The Beast (“barely even friends, then somebody bends, unexpectedly…” SOMEBODY STOP ME!).
- The Emperor’s New Groove (friendship between a Llama and a human!)
- The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
- Zootopia (Need I say more?).
Yet, somewhere along the way, I (and most of us) decided that the good-looking Prince charming or the beautiful damsel in distress and the catchy songs deserved my attention more than the morale of the story.
Sad! Believe me, I have done my walk of shame a few times.
Once upon a time, I used to judge others based on what makes them different from me and if I am honest, the temptation to do so comes up every now and then when I encounter something new. However, I am learning to make a conscious effort not to give into it.
“Why?” you ask.
Good question! Here are my reasons:
- I have realised that as much as I think they are different from me, that is how THEY also feel about ME. So, would I relish the same treatment if the reverse were the case? (because guess what? To them YOU are different! Uhuh!)
- I have a brother and a sister. Yet, considering their actions or inactions, I sometimes wonder which one of us is adopted! It doesn’t matter that the resemblance to our parents is very striking.
- There are over 7 billion people on the planet as of 2016.
7 BILLION! (Let that sink in).
Yet, it is logical to expect all those billions of people to think like me, act like me, like what I like, believe what I believe, practice what I practice, have lifestyles just like mine and look like me. That’s because I am that important and I know everything. This gives me the right to sound my drums of war if I encounter anything different.
Thank you, Obi-Wan Kenobi!
“… Yes, I try to find common ground with everyone….”
(That’s in the bible in a book called 1 Corinthians chapter 9 verse 22b)
It seems to me that we unconsciously or for some, consciously decide which ‘different’ we will ‘accept’. For instance, for some, we decide we can accept a difference in skin colour but not faith beliefs. For others, we can accept a difference in our faith but not political views. Yet for some others, we will accept their eating styles (what’s up my vegan friends!) but not if they dress differently or love differently than we do.
Once we’ve decided on our acceptance parameters, we then set out to persecute, deride, condemn, ostracise, neglect, ignore or sadly for some, kill anyone outside our ‘zone’ of acceptance. In Nigeria, we refer to this attitude as having ‘Bad belle‘ towards other people (with ‘belle’ pronounced as bell-air but together).
And we wonder why no one is listening to anyone!
These days, ‘offense’ is the best offense. A wise person once said, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care”. The way I see it, Accepting people doesn’t mean I must change who I am. No. It simply means I respect who they are AT THE TIME I MEET THEM and who knows who they’ll become after they get to know me.
I guess what I’m trying to say is,
Are we (including myself) looking out for what makes us different or are we looking out for what we’ve got in common?