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Celebrating differences

“We divided ourselves among caste, creed, culture, and countries, but what is undivided remains most valuable: a mere smile and the love,” says Santosh Kalwar, a self-published Nepalese writer.  

Santosh Kalwar has a good point – humans can stereotype and put one another in categories until there are no categories left. What is harder to do is learning how to see one another for how we are the same. At some point, even celebrating our differences can cause division.  It also can become divisive when we start behaving like the act of sharing culture and appreciating one another is the same as appropriation.  

For example, some might suggest that wearing jewelry or fashion of another culture is appropriation. But if the intent behind the action was not to claim the jewelry as their own, but rather of promoting something thought of as beautiful, is it appropriation or appreciation?  

As a Native American I am happy when someone shares my culture’s beauty and wouldn’t get offended if they did so by way of jewelry or makeup or even native hairstyles. Of course this example would be different if they were wearing a Halloween costume that stereotyped my ancestors.  

 In America, especially right now, there is a lot of division. People are angry at one another –  angry about race relations, different points of view on COVID-19, angry about the past, and angry about what could become of the future.  

Still people of America have the same underlying principles; freedom of speech, ideas, family, and religion. When we can come together to see what we have in common, what makes us different falls behind. 

As humans, we have the choice to make: to be inclusive or to be exclusive. Just because someone hasn’t gone through what you have gone through, grown-up where you have grown-up or stood in your shoes doesn’t mean they cannot empathize with you.  

An unknown person said, “You can’t understand someone until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes,” this may be true, but until you let someone step into your shoes, they don’t stand a chance of understanding.  

The world is becoming more and more global. In such a time of division and of fear running rampant, wouldn’t it be more beneficial to celebrate and focus more on what we have in common? 

We are all people with emotions, all humans who desire love and to be loved, and all people want to be celebrated. But celebrating our differences can cause division when someone is not allowed to celebrate because they are different. When we focus on the differences, we forget the best ways in which we are the same.