It is hard for people to unite. People fear differences, change and a world where they may be an outcast in a sea of homogeneity. But children learning to embrace one another, irrespective of their race, religion, gender, sexuality or abilities are some of the most important lessons that parents can teach. When differences divide, we ultimately alienate not only one another, but also ourselves. We have a responsibility to embrace and protect all people, not just those similar to us.
There are two key actions that parents can take. The first is showing your children that you are open-minded to differences. This may mean diversifying your social circle or learning about new cultures and religious beliefs. If you live in a place where people are similar to you, consider taking a family trip to an area where people are different. Talk to your children about diversity and show them it should be embraced.
The second is defending victims. Too often people watch others being persecuted for their differences and do nothing. History has proven this concept. Consider slavery dictated by race, the Holocaust and religious beliefs leading to the mass killing of the Jewish people, or the recent murders that occurred at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando based on sexual orientation. People sometimes forget to defend against issues that don’t directly impact their lives. We need to fight for others, not just ourselves.
Most parents have an innate need to protect their children. However, parents fail to realize that in order to truly protect children from hatred it takes an entire community. No one should be judged based on traits that they are unable to control. And no one should suffer pain from simply being who he or she is.
Life is scary, but children need strength. True strength appears in people who speak for those whose voices are silenced. Show your children the strength you have for a great and diverse world for all, not just the strength it takes to hold your own world together.