BETTY’S WORLD: Embracing ourselves and others
By Betty Lamarr
I am sure you have all heard that we need to embrace our differences. After all, anyone who has had to deal with people of the opposite gender, the opposite side of the political spectrum, or from opposite religious philosophies would tell you that embracing similarities is not the problem. People who think and look the way we do are the ones that we embrace. It’s those [insert least favorite sports team/religious group/political group here] that are the ones who are wrong in their ways. Well, this may often be the case. However, do you ever notice that the most terrifying confrontation for some is not facing opposite cultures or philosophies but looking in the mirror?
It is often mentioned that people who are passionately against the rights of homosexuals are frequently those with homosexual tendencies they are ashamed of. It has been written in history that Hitler, who was trying to weed the population down into a specific “perfect” race, had his own bout of image issues before his eventual suicide. We have all met people who are excellent at religious rituals and frequently go to church but are hiding a secret sin. Confronting who we really are can be so horrifying that we quickly find another person or thing to point our finger at. As long as the focus is on hating others we don’t have to deal with our own inner humanity. We don’t have to deal with learning to love ourselves.
On the flip side, sometimes those who can’t love themselves actually inflict harm or discrimination upon people who look or act like them. A circumstance like this happened to me just the other day. I live in an area where I am one of the only black women in my complex. As I was leaving home, I met another black woman who looked shocked to see me in the area. I greeted her immediately and expected her to be friendly in return, but she barely spoke to me. It seemed difficult for her to embrace the fact that someone of her race would live in the same area. I have heard similar scenarios from friends of many different races. Do you think this could stem from the other person trying to run away from who they really are? Perhaps we would not judge others so harshly if we did not see some of ourselves in the thing we don’t like.
One of the wonderful things about God is that he made us all unique. Each person is their own beautiful color with their own combination of personality characteristics, talents, and gifts. What you may see as a personal weakness may be a source of strength for others. It is all too easy to look at others with a judgmental and competitive spirit. I know from my own experiences how some people can judge simply based on if your business is profitable or if they feel your car is too nice. Competition can easily turn into jealousy. However, if people realized that they are full of strengths and talents that other people (perhaps the person they are the most jealous of) is lacking, then that judgment would cease to exist.
Before you embrace appreciating the differences of others, take a long hard look in the mirror and appreciate the amazing creation God has made. Your skin color, your gifts, your ideas, your experiences, and your personality are all what makes you into the person you were designed to be. Be proud of it! When you see some of that in others, embrace it! And when you see differences, embrace the variety and uniqueness of creation. You cannot love others until you genuinely love yourself. Embrace who God has created you to be and end the awful trend of self-hatred. This simple step can help end racism, sexism, and a variety of other destructive forces that inhabit our society. Tomorrow, take a long look in the mirror…and smile.
Betty LaMarr is an advocate for social issues and concerns. You may contact her with questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.