By Mira Khatib
What has transpired in the last decade or so is disheartening with the lack of respect of the other. Not just towards strangers, but at times even from the closest people to you; even among family members! The irony is that we all verbally acknowledge that it is fine to have different opinions and different beliefs; yet our behavior and actions in many occasions are the exact opposite! Self-interest is rapidly growing over common interest. This is step one in fostering polarization; a slippery slope that leads to some form of a disaster.
Certain behaviors, attitudes and interactions that are “abnormal” are now accepted! For example, imposing one’s opinion onto others, or disregarding the interest of thy neighbor, or not caring for your fellow human are now “normal”. In my opinion many from people in power to businesses to even families promote “us first” concepts. Few that still see the interest of others as their own; yet the common good is what we should all strive and realize that there is no right way but a different way.
No matter who, why, or when; we will change our perspective and beliefs over time, on people,on situations and even on beliefs.
We are not always affected by logic, many times our words and deeds will follow our emotional state. So between learning and emotions; our beliefs, habits and actions will certainly change.
The question is how do we change for the better and how do we rekindle respect and tolerance? How do we learn to be opinionated yet caring? How do we remain passionate about our own ideas yet accepting of others? How do we stand true to our own view point yet listen to other views? How do we stop judging and be more open minded?
As children when we played with our neighbors we never asked about where they are from, religion, or even noticed skin color, these are all learnt behaviors that got instilled in us over time; and as humans are amazing learning creatures, we can easily teach ourselves as adults not to bigots, racists and haters of those whom are different from us. It all starts with accepting diversity and seeing it as a source of strength. Parents and teachers should instill positive convictions in children not only by telling but also by demonstrating and doing. It is having our religious scholars bridge differences and not exploits them. Let us all see people for who they are not for the color of their skin, or their nationality, or their religious belief or their gender. Let us communicate but more importantly listen and try to understand. Having more than one perspective, more than one opinion and more than one outlook can only be good. While we are different we need not be adversaries; while we have self needs we need not be greedy; while we have different backgrounds we need not be racist.
The truth is, respecting others is a sign of maturity, civility, strength and what was once called “good old fashioned manners”. So let me ask you this isn’t it time to try and become “old fashioned” again?