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Teen Talk

August 10, 2013

On the Go: Different doesn't equal bad

Everyone has been told that everyone is unique. Barney told us we were special. 

 We believed him. 

But now we grab for every possible label. We create divides and strict lines. We get upset when someone deviates from our norm. We try so hard to destroy our intrinsic connectivity. These divides fuel conflict. Some people try to politely acknowledge different people but that isn’t enough. We need to actively accept people who are different instead of just not disliking them.

We were all taught that everyone is different. But, being the people we are, we must reject diverse chaos and organize, categorize or sort. Somewhere in this the idea that different equals bad rooted itself. Different does not equal bad.

We use many things to label ourselves. We use gender. We use language. We use age. We use political affiliation. We use religion. We use location. We use these to bring us together and to divide us. We let these labels define us, and we judge other people with them. 

Generalizations are made and they hurt people: All southerners are racist. All blondes are stupid. All girls like pink. All kids are flighty. 

What if we got rid of labels and generalizations? I could be me and you could be you. Nothing more, nothing less. We would be forced to look a little deeper. To get to know someone, not just their labels.

This issue presents itself in many ways in many places. One I’ve noticed in particular is schools. If you’re a little too loud, too slow, too fast or too creative, measures are taken to direct you back toward conformity. If we embraced differences in childhood, then children could grow up to embrace differences in all aspects of life. Maybe we could eradicate social cliques and learn to appreciate differences.

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