One thing that really struck me was when Mr. Hanson was talking about the old saying, treat others the way you want to be treated. I've heard this quote a million times, as I'm sure everyone has, but I hadn't heard it put quite this way before:
Treat others the way THEY want to be treated.
Huh? Wait. What does that mean, you ask?? How am I supposed to know how someone else wants to be treated? Well, you don't. Not for certain, and that's kind of the point. Wording the phrase this way takes the focus off of YOU, off of self, and puts the focus on the other person. When you inherently focus on someone else, you begin to realize that people are different. They have different needs, different ways of thinking, and different ways of reacting. And all of that is just as important as how you think and act.
1. Maybe if you're angry and upset, you need a hug. But for someone else, maybe they need space and distance.
2. Maybe you wouldn't take offense to being told your clothes look funny. But for someone else, hearing such a comment can be devastating.
3. Maybe you wouldn't care if someone criticized the way you throw a ball, maybe you'd even appreciate their honesty. But someone else might take such criticism to mean you don't like them.
4. Maybe in your culture it's common to compare your accomplishments or monetary status (I know some cultures where this is very common, particularly for parents to brag about their kids). But others may think this is extremely rude.
The point here isn't to be so afraid of offending someone that you don't say anything at all. Rather the point is to increase your sensitivity to those around you, and one way to do that is to take the time to get to know other people (and other cultures) better.
Which brings me to another point that my son's teacher made. It's not enough to say that we will treat all people the same or that will "tolerate" others who are different than us. A better philosophy to adopt is that we will celebrate the differences and see them as something fascinating, unique and worthy of our time to study.
I don't pretend that hearing these mighty words will change everything. People are people, kids are kids, and in some sense we're fighting against nature (survival of the fittest) here. But I like to think about the other component of nature, that diversity drives evolution. Without diversity our world wouldn't be such a fascinating and beautiful place to live in.
Think about it.
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