There’s a great big world out there full of all sorts of people leading all sorts of lives. And that is a beautiful thing.
I initially learned about the great big world when I was 7 years old. One evening I walked into the front room and found my sister studying a list of states and their capitals in a volume of our dad’s encyclopedias. She was studying for a test, and I began quizzing her on them to help her study. This ultimately lead to me studying that same list and memorizing them all… then getting very addicted to a game on our ancient Macintosh computer with geography trivia… then memorizing world capitals and flags… then becoming generally obsessed with learning about the world, maps, other places, and other cultures. I learned that other, different, and foreign are not bad things. Quite the opposite.
I do not bring up this lesson because of the voracious desire to travel which I’ve recently developed. I bring it up mostly out of a desire to communicate that I possess a complete respect for humanity, and I firmly believe we can all easily learn to coexist.
Despite some who vocalize opinions that there is no room for people with different religious beliefs, cultures, sexual orientations, skin, or other characteristics in their neck of the woods, I think we can all discover the common bond of our humanity. We can look to others and realize they are a human created by their genetics, experiences, and environment… just like each of us.
I absolutely love that my mother reenforced these kinds of concepts to me with frequency. I’m so grateful she taught me about the dangers of racism. She made me aware of the atrocities of slavery, the holocaust, and other historical demonstrations of humanity losing sight of the common bond. In recent years she taught me about contemporary horrors like child soldiers. She’s also always found gentle, subtle ways of letting me know that she values inclusion and love of others… even if they are other, different, foreign.
This is a great lesson from my mom that I hope we all can learn. She’s an incredible teacher.