Where arts and diversity meet
Accepting differences with graceDecember 27th, 2011 at Tue, 27th, 2011 at 11:33 am by Gabrielle Nomura
As I wrote this on Tuesday, my mouth was already watering at the thought of latkes on that first night of Hanukkah. That night I lit the candles and said the blessings, “Baruch Atah Adonai…”
Then, this weekend, I celebrated the birth of Jesus Christ and went to church with my family – the same folks who already ate latkes and spun the dreidel.
I grew up celebrating Hanukkah, Christmas and a multitude of other traditions that come from a multicultural, interfaith family.
Some would argue that getting a little taste of everything dilutes the actual message of the particular faith. I disagree. Call me an idealistic millennial kid, but I think it brings me closer to my fellow human.
In a season that is supposed to be about peace on earth, good will to all living things, I am continually inspired by my family, friends and people in the community who are open to one another’s beliefs, despite their drastically differing viewpoints. To me, this openness is at the root of peace.
In my own life, I’ve known diverse people to have created successful boyfriend/girlfriend unions, marriages and a particular group of tight-knit girlfriends that includes a secular gay rights activist, a parishioner of Mars Hill Church, several who grew up in Mormon households, a Catholic, a couple agnostics and a Buddhist.
Accepting differences with grace is often one of the most difficult things to do; and something I still need a lot of work at. But when you open your mind, you can gain a lot – plus, you expose yourself to a marketplace of ideas, and are able to affirm your own truth for yourself.
While we get to enjoy Hanukkah and Christmas before Martin Luther King Jr. day next month, (a.k.a. next year) it’s not too early to start thinking of his message of peace during the holidays.
Instead of merely “tolerating” one another, we can learn to accept, and even embrace one another. Instead of Christian, Muslim, black, white, woman, man, liberal, conservative – we must choose to judge someone by the content of her character. We’re all just people after all, right?
In this season of religious holidays, we should remember that religion is about love, compassion and forgiveness. I know the Dalai Lama said that. But I’m sure many others have uttered similar ideas.
At the very core of all these festivities, if you can look past the presents and Hallmark cards, are those very values.
That’s something that I’ve learned from the many, seemingly different, traditions I’ve grown up with.