I’d apologize for the crass language in the title of this post, but I’m really not sorry. In fact, if I thought it wasn’t too off-putting, my website header would say “Don’t Be a Dick,” instead of “Embrace the Different.”
A couple of weeks ago, my business coach asked me what the one message I wanted to give the world was, and this was it: don’t be a dick. I had to think about it for a minute but really, if I had to choose one sentence to sum up everything I have to say, that would be it. I feel like this message is especially poignant as the holidays roll around because let’s be real, sometimes the stress of the holidays and family don’t always bring out the best in people.
I don’t know when having a different opinion elicited being called horrible names by strangers on the internet or when it became socially acceptable to shame, bully, or even physically harm people just because they are different than us, but I believe it all comes back to having a little basic humanity.
Different doesn’t mean wrong. Think about that for a minute. Really think about it. How many times have you thought someone was wrong just because they do or think something different than you? Different beliefs, political views, parenting styles, opinions, likes and dislikes, and ways of doing life are what make this world so interesting. I can’t count how many times I’ve thought someone else was doing something “wrong,” but when I stepped back and really looked at it, there was something I could learn from them (unless we are talking about the way my husband loads the dishwasher, in which case that’s just wrong ;)).
If you see something you don’t like on the internet, you don’t have to comment with something hateful; you can just scroll right on past or unfriend them. There is no reason to bully people on the internet just because they don’t look or believe like you. There is no reason to shame and judge other people just because they don’t have the exact same diet or parenting style as you. Remember the golden rule we all learned in elementary school? Treat others like you would want to be treated. It really is as simple as that.
Imagine how much better a place the world would be if we all followed that simple rule. Imagine how much easier it would be to raise our kids if we stopped bullying and shaming and judging. Imagine how much happier life would be if we didn’t have to worry about being shamed for everything from our body type, to our parenting styles, to our political views. There is just no reason for any of it.
I know it’s a process to rid ourselves of negative thoughts and judgments, and I know it’s not going to happen overnight. But next time you see someone different than you and have an instant reaction (I’ve had them too, so you aren’t alone), maybe try to put yourself in their shoes for a minute. Don’t judge them, don’t shame, and don’t be a dick.