Do It Yourself - Jun 2016

You are special, so am I

Everyone is unique – we have a variety of strengths and weaknesses, our own personality traits, and specific likes and dislikes. In life, all people are given gifts and have challenges. We are not the same and that’s what makes everyone special in their own way. Even though we have lots of ways we differ from each other we also have many similarities which unite us. Whether it’s your income level, religion, race, gender, political party, or sexual preference you inherently fall into one or more “groups” that are often labeled and criticized just for being different from any other group – man or woman, black or white, straight or gay, etc. Focusing on differences can often lead to division, hate, and unnecessary violence; while embracing those things that make us unique can create a more positive and supportive environment. In the wake of the most recent mass shooting in Orlando, FL, which targeted a group of individuals based on hatred and ignorance, we wanted to open up a conversation about tolerance and acceptance.

At WINGS, we aim to move away from hate and towards a place of compassion. Spending time with diverse people can have a profoundly positive effect. As a result of these interactions prejudicial attitudes can diminish. We encourage WINGS students to reach out to those who are not the same as them, ask questions, share strengths, and find some similarities. Instead of pointing out all the ways someone is different, they look beyond the surface and the labels and try get to know the real person – what’s on the inside. Everyone is special and that uniqueness is to be celebrated, not hated.

In an effort to find the good in everyone, challenge yourself to reach out to someone who is different from you a few times a week or even each month. It could be the teenager serving you coffee, the homeless man on the street, or a co-worker with whom you never seemed to click. Start by acknowledging these people with a simple, “good morning” or “how are you”. Attempt to initiate small talk in an effort to see what they are all about. What makes them unique and special? Do you have anything in common-rooting for the same football team, enjoying the same restaurant, attending the same high school? As you work to find out more about those you meet, try to step into their shoes to see what they might be going through. As you start to have a better understanding of others, you’ll begin to really see the good in them. Working towards becoming a more compassionate, empathetic individual is just another way you are a special person who can bring about change one little step at a time.