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Omission Supports Inequality and Intolerance

 My mom offered me quite a bit of invaluable advice during her time on this planet, including but not limited to:

  • Never pass up a cookie.
  • Be kind, always.
  • When in doubt, use butter.
  • Use your talents.
  • Satisfy your curiosities.

In addition to the gems above, she told me numerous times,

Heather, you aren’t better than anyone else on this planet…you’re just different.

(Lest you think my mother didn’t think I was special, let me assure you she did. She had four children and each of us truly believed we were not only special, but we were her favorite!)

My mother’s assertion that I was no better than others came with this advice,

The sooner we appreciate that everyone is equal, the better off our communities will be.

It’s been 24 years since my mother died and while her philosophy still resonates with me, the sad fact is it is often lost on others.

Don’t believe me?  Open your eyes and take a look:

  • The affluent child concludes the kid from the trailer park doesn’t deserve to go to the birthday party.
  • The popular teenager disregards others as unworthy of her attention.
  • The young professional assumes himself more valuable than the individual who trained him who, in the young professional’s opinion, is “past his prime.”
  • The manager assumes a candidate may be burdensome because of what she perceives as a disability.
  • The seemingly kind and generous neighbor denies service to a particular family at his place of work.
  • The “Christian” considers her values more honorable than the colleague who prays to a different God.
  • The gunman believes his life is more worthy than that of the family he shot down.

I believe the last example, the tragedy, occurs because we have tolerated the other examples.

Shoot, we haven’t simply tolerated inequality; by act or omission, many of us have supported inequality!

Am I wrong?

  • Have we consistently ensured inclusion or have we allowed for exclusivity?
  • Have our minds (and hearts) been open or closed to people who are different?
  • Have we humbled ourselves or have we expected others to submit or acquiesce?
  • Have we been inclined to point out the good or have we only highlighted the bad when generalizing groups of people or speaking of stereotypes?
  • Have we sought to understand others or have we jumped to judgment?

The sooner we appreciate that everyone is equal, the better off our communities will be.

My mother’s advice is needed now more than ever.

Albert Einstein once said, “The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything.” These are wise words, indeed!

Inequality is prevalent in our schools, in our work environments and in our personal networks because we have allowed, if not encouraged these disparate communities. I don’t know why we have failed to act, and sometimes I feel powerless to change it.

But then I think of my mother! She influenced many, and I can do the same. Whether it’s my children, my employees, my colleagues, or my boss, I have the ability to positively influence lots of people.

So can you! 

  • We all have our unique strengths.
  • We all have our individual ways of learning and thinking.
  • We all have our own ways of working.
  • We all have our personal styles of communicating and expression.
  • We all have our own set of idiosyncrasies.
  • We all have our particular beliefs and respective values.

Each and every one of us would be angry, resentful or downright pissed off if someone diminished or criticized these things in us. Therefore, we cannot denigrate or condemn these things in others!

The sooner we appreciate that everyone is equal, the better off our communities will be.

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