In light of recent developments in British politics, namely the coalition between the Conservatives and the DUP, as well as the fundamental problems of the ideologies of Trump, Pence, and the like, I’m going to use this week’s ‘Tea for Two’ to discuss acceptance.
Let’s just start off by saying that I wholeheartedly agree that everybody is entitled to their own opinion. I just think that this statement should include a clause: so long as that opinion is not detrimental or hurtful to anybody else.
There are 7.5 billion people on this planet that we call home; 65.5 million people in the UK alone. Not one of these people have seen or heard the same things in life, nor have any of these people experienced the same things. That means that there are 7.5 billion different perspectives through which to look at the world and at life. 7.5 billion unique viewspoints. Can we just let that sink in?
If you take one room with just a handful of people in, how many of them would agree on the same things? Or disagree? How many of just this hypothetical handful of people would share the same opinions? Maybe one or two, but if you were to add clauses to the questions then how many would share the same opinion? None.
And that is what is pretty amazing about the human species; every single person, all 7.5 billion of us, holds a slightly different perspective. In today’s technologically connected world, we are exposed to so many different perspectives almost constantly. We have an entire planet of knowledge at our fingertips, yet, it seems to me, that we hardly know anything about other people’s perspectives.
There are an estimated 4,200 religions. There are 145 ethnic groups, with at least a further 157 ethnic subgroups. There are 7,099 languages that we know of, Papua New Guinea alone has 840! There are countless different sexualities and sexual orientations. And these are just a few simple measures to show the immense diversity of the human species.
There are infinite possible perspectives, infinite beliefs, and infinite ideas; what makes you think yours is right?
I personally think that all the hatred that we witness in the world today stems from fear. After all, what does a dog do but lash out when it is frightened? That is a basic evolutionary self-preservation trait, there’s no escaping that. It doesn’t matter how ‘advanced’ or ‘civilised’ we humans may think we are, we are still all wired with the same evolutionary cables that protected us from predators when we lived in caves and foraged for berries.
From an evolutionary point of view, our brains are hard-wired to fear what we don’t know. That shadow in the woods, that noise in the dark, those footsteps in the street. We fear what we do not know, what we can’t see, because this enables our bodies to prepare themselves for an adrenaline rush in order to fight or flight should we need to. That shadow in the dark, is it a tree, or is it a predator? The brain doesn’t know, it’s too dark to distinguish either way, so until we can verify one way or the other, we feel fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of what could be. This keeps us alive. However, the human species, we no longer have natural predators, but our brains are still wired to be afraid of what we don’t know, what we don’t understand.
So, in the wonderfully connected world that we live in, we see hatred and discrimination of all descriptions – race, gender, sexuality, language, etc, etc. More than anything though, we see ignorance. It is ignorance that breeds fear, and which, in turn, creates hatred. The only way we can beat this ignorance, fear and hatred is to learn. We need to try to understand the perspectives of other people, their beliefs and their experiences.
The only way not to be scared of the shadow in the dark, is to learn what the shadow is.
No matter what community you are from, no matter what skin colour you have, no matter what your sexual orientation, or language you speak, no matter your gender, religion, or beliefs, we are all human. We are all living on the same planet, and there is absolutely no reason whatsoever why every single one of us can’t take a step back and try to learn about the other’s perspective.