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#ToleranceMeans Embracing Differences

Updated: Apr 11

Danielle Frank, Graduate, Eastern Illinois University

Danielle Frank, Graduate, Eastern Illinois University

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“[O]btaining a deeper understanding of others who may not think or act like you will allow you to become more aware of their experiences and perspective of things, while also gaining empathy towards them.”


Throughout America, there has always been disparity between individuals and groups when it comes to cultural differences. Everyone has their own experiences which often affects their perception of others, which will generally cause a divide throughout America. With that being said, learning how to bridge these divides will allow this country to foster a better understanding of others, promote empathy, reduce conflicts, and build stronger connections with individuals and groups who may have certain differences. 


Some may ask, “How exactly do I contribute to bridging divides in America?”. Well for starters, it is not as simple as it sounds. This is because a lot of our differences are deeply rooted through generations, and have a strong bias towards certain things. It is not easy to simply go cold turkey and start over on your beliefs and understandings of your own experiences while being in America. Although that is true, with the right mindset and commitment to change, there can be huge progress in the right direction of bridging divides. 


There are many ways that individuals can begin to put effort into learning how to live together with others who have differences through alliance. Although that is true, two main components of this effort would be educating yourself, and challenging your bias towards your own beliefs. Doing these actions will show that individuals do want to contribute to building these bridges to promote unity in their community and the country. 


Although these two actions towards bridging a divide in America are just as important as the other, educating yourself is the starting point that individuals should want to follow first. This is because obtaining a deeper understanding of others who may not think or act like you will allow you to become more aware of their experiences and perspective of things, while also gaining empathy towards them. As well as that, it will also give you better insight about their past, culture, and even struggles they have faced while being in America. 


Challenging your bias towards your own beliefs allows you to be selfless towards others who are not particularly like you. Many people have their own preconceived notions about individuals and their beliefs before having any type of evidence that proves otherwise. This can be a problem because it can lead to stereotyping and the misunderstanding of others. With that being said, challenging your own bias can allow you to recognize what actual bias you have, become more open-minded, and more willing to accept different perspectives others may have. Additionally, challenging your own bias also allows you to gain more empathy towards others as well. 


As previously mentioned, contributing your part in bridging divides in America may not be as easy as it sounds. While that is true, making the effort to do so is extremely impactful to your community and the country. It is important to know that not everyone is the same nor do they want to be the same as others, but acknowledging their experiences, perspectives, and differences can lead to a more cohesive and balanced society. Being more open to learning about other experiences and perceptions, questioning your own preconceptions, and leading by example can be the starting point of America becoming more cohesive as we live together through our differences.

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