Have you watched the lesser known movie,Lion King 2, before? It depicts the growth of Simba’s daughter Kiara and how she fell in love with an outsider or outcast, Kovu. The lions were separated into two different pacts. Those who lived outside the ‘pride lands’ were considered banished and unclean, segregated from the other lions. Even though they were essentially the same species with the same needs, they were cast away because they were ‘different’.
I find that this mirrors our society today. As the saying goes, “Birds of a feather stick together”. People tend to form groups according to similarities, shunning those who do not fit in. The ‘cliques’ in schools, the working groups in offices, interest groups and more all reflect the shared sentiment of “If you don’t like what we like, don’t do what we do, don’t think how we think then you can’t stay”. This thought is scary and can even escalate to fights or riots as shown in the fight between political parties in the USA (after the 2016 US Presidential elections), incited by anger over not having it ‘their way’. What is wrong is that people cannot seem to accept that people who are different are still essentially people. They have the same needs like food and water, maybe even the same wants from the latest iPhone to true love. Just because their opinions or likes are not exactly a replica of yours does not mean they do not deserve the same amount of respect as a human being.
So what can we do? We can start learning to accept others for their differences. Just to be clear, acceptance is different from providing support. Acceptance can be used even during disagreements and does not depend on preference. Providing support, on the other hand, includes being in favour of the other person’s opinions and promoting it. What I’m calling for all of us to do is to inculcate a sense of acceptance: be it from other people’s cultures, opinions and preferences to their way of living and behaving. This way, we can build strong bonds with others without making either party feel discriminated against due to not being the same. We can approach the lonely classmate who sits by herself for recess and include her, even though she is from a different country. We can befriend the person who we had a debate with before, even though he thinks differently in a certain aspect. We can stop shunning people who are different just because they are. We can start learning to accept that others are different and that it shouldn’t affect how we treat them. Be kind, spread love.