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purposeful discomfortWe joined the conversation just as Matt was defending the right to be quirky and go against the mainstream. He was calm, gracious, and articulate—speaking his mind without being in anyone’s face, urging respect for different values and opinions.

His message of tolerance went unheeded.

As the threads of conversation began anew, anyone who disagreed with the majority opinion was belittled and harshly criticized.

The path of purposeful divergence

Someone recently asked me what one thing I would change about the world if I could. I responded I would sprinkle some pixie dust on everyone to imbue them with broad-mindedness—a kind, authentic, and generous appreciation for the differences of others. There would be no pressure to agree with the opposing point of view. One could simply accept without judgment, indifference, or condescension of the right to think, feel, and act divergently from the norm.

Tolerance is giving to every other human being every right that you claim for yourself. ~Robert Green Ingersoll, lawyer and orator

I think I’d need a lot of pixie dust as we’re inclined to perceive that which is different from us as a threat to be vanquished or something to be feared. But, instead of settling for what we know or what leaves us comfortable, what would happen if we purposefully embraced that fear and used it as a catalyst to expand our horizons?

We expect Baskin Robbins to serve up at least 31 flavors. So why do we want a single flavor—ours—when it comes to values and beliefs?

It took Magellan’s crew three years to circumnavigate the world. Today a message can be shared globally in a matter of minutes—connecting us to this impressive list of differences from MindTools:  race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, philosophy, values, physical attributes, age, viewpoints, family obligations, background, dress, work practices, political beliefs, attitude, education, and class.

Diversity is here to stay.

You will need to look instead for the meaningful similarities you share with others that will help you overlook unessential differences. ~Shelley Reciniello, psychologist

So the next time the temptation arises to bash someone who thinks, feels, or acts differently, try hitting the personal pause button long enough to intentionally dance with some purposeful discomfort. It might be the beginning of an intriguing journey of growth.

What say you?



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