Everyone Deserves R.E.S.P.E.C.T.: Embracing Other’s Beliefs and Values
Ask anyone what they know about Canada, and most of them will tell you that apart from it being one of the most beautiful countries in the world with the breathtaking natural landscapes and amazing cityscapes, Canada is also well known for being one of the most multicultural and diverse countries in the world.
This means that no matter what corner you live in or study at, you’ll always be bound to come across individuals who are from a different culture than you are. However, multicultural does not only pertain to ethnicity or background or place of origin although this is the common misconception. It also refers to gender, class, mental capabilities, physical abilities, age, values, and religious and spiritual beliefs.
Differences in beliefs and values are two of the most common causes for divide or separation as living in Canada has already exposed the large population to different ethnicities and races and has thus flourished acceptance. However, disparities in beliefs and values are more challenging to accept but not impossible, of course. Here are some pointers to help you become more embracing of other people’s beliefs and values different from your own:
Be aware of who you are.
As teenagers, of course, we are still discovering who we are and what we can offer the world once we become adults. However, as teenagers, you already have a good idea of your own belief and value system although it is incomplete. You already know what you are capable and not capable of, and you are already aware of what you are willing to do or not willing to do. This is not to say that we are closing to being influenced, however, with self-awareness, you can make well-informed decisions yourself and can acknowledge where you stand when it comes to topics and issues and you don’t try to be a people-pleaser.
Keep an open mind.
In an extremely diverse Canadian society, it’s highly recommended that you keep an open mind. You will always be running into someone who does not have the same beliefs or values as you do, and you should train your mind to be okay with that and have an open mind. Don’t force anyone to change themselves for you as you don’t want yourself to change for anyone, right? For example, not everyone celebrates Christmas and not everyone believes in gift-giving during this holiday and you can’t force a change in them if that is what they have been accustomed to. Let them be, and respect their decision.
Know that differences are a catalyst for growth and change.
Have you ever thought about what if everyone is the same with their values and beliefs because they are controlled that you can’t tell anyone apart and deviation is highly discouraged? This is the idea of the novel “Brave New World” by Aldous Huxley, which of course did not end well. If we all are the same, then we will find ourselves as stagnant and without purpose because there is dormancy for us to acquire additional knowledge or wisdom or greater understanding of life, things that we can only obtain if we immerse ourselves in different cultures. The contrasts are what fuel us to aim for additional learning and enrichment of our overall well-being.
Don’t rely on stereotypes.
Remember the Oscar award-winning animated film “Zootopia”? Yes, most of us think that animated movies are for kids, but this one served an important life lesson: it is time to get rid of stereotypes. While the film’s supposed breakdown of stereotypes is played for amusement (it is a cartoon, after all)—for example, the title character, Judy Hopps, is a fluffy, cutesy bunny who showed she has the courage of a lion, and a secondary character, Clawhauser, a donut-loving cheetah who’s the most friendly in the police precinct—they point out we can’t make assumptions of one’s character or attitude because of their appearance. We have to learn there is more that lies beneath.
It’s not easy to be completely accepting of people who hold different values and beliefs, but if we put an effort to it, we can do it. Living in harmony is not about being one and the same in everything; it is acknowledging the differences among all of us and yet striving to make everything work despite of it.