Be kind to those around you and don’t judge

“Every person is different and I need to accept them for who they are, I’m going to need the favor returned sooner or later.”

Yes, the self-reflection continues in this column and the above quote comes from the list of things I have learned to be true in life at what I hope is just the midway point. What I find ironic is the fact I had planned this very topic last week for this column — before the shooting tragedy that claimed nine lives in Charleston.

Maybe this has even more relevance now.

I’m odd, different — big shocker to some who know me personally I’m sure — and on most days don’t think I see things through the same lenses as the people around me. I rarely get more than five hours sleep in a day, my music collection runs from 16th and 17th century classical to metal, I can spend an entire day alone in an art museum or an afternoon in Death Valley.

I enjoy performing whether it is acting or music, and I write EVERYTHING — journalism, plays, short stories, novels, screenplays, and poetry. I belong more in a time during the Renaissance than this one — although my mother would argue I was born 10 years too late and the 1960’s were my time, I just missed it.

The point is, I am a pseudo-artist, someone who doesn’t seem to quite fit into a mold or in one place. I am drawn to the eclectic and find myself needing to experience anything and everything. Most importantly, I have an opinion but I do not pass judgment.

Why is what I am saying relevant?

Frankly, because this is where the issue of racism and hatred is spawned, through an inability to accept someone else as different. Tall, short, black, white, thin, fat, educated, uneducated, gay, straight, Christian, Muslim, non-traditional, atheist. The list goes on and on.

It would be next to impossible to list the infinite ways in which we are different from one another, yet it seems we have the expectation for others to think and believe and act just as we do, otherwise “there’s something wrong with them.”

Nothing could be further from the truth, because the fact is, if you think this way, then you are the problem.

Does accepting who someone is give tacit approval to their behavior or proclivities? Absolutely not. Accepting who they are means no judgment, even if you could never approve of what they believe or do. In essence the people we evolve into over time is nothing more than the amalgamation of the totality of our experiences as we travel through this life, molding who and what we are beyond our basic personality makeup.

Just because you accept someone for who they are does not mean anything more than finding peace for yourself instead of continually judging others, even when you don’t realize you are. At no point does anyone need your approval, merely the opportunity to live their life, and it’s my personal belief if others tried to see the world this way it would be a better place. It is our actions which truly speak, not the words that fall so fluidly from our tongues.

Example: In one hand you hold a nail and in the other a hammer. If you put the nail against wood, is it possible to drive that nail by berating and shouting at it? No, the nail is not going to be driven by words. Now act, take the hammer and drive the nail home.

The same principle applies here. You will never talk a person into being someone they are not, but your actions speak volumes and have influences you could never imagine. We never stop being children, and as children we learned through observing and then doing. At what point did being a decent human being become more difficult than that?

Next time you find yourself ardently opposed to another person’s place in life, or who they are, ask yourself if you are in a position to pass the same scrutiny. If you answer no, just accept they are just different, not less, than you and move on. If you answer yes, then my question to you would be, did you climb up on that cross alone?

Accept, don’t judge, and forget about your approval. Most of us could care less if we have it. Just be good to one another. You will need the favor returned at some point.

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