The other day I was stopped at a traffic light on my way to pick Curt up from swim team. I glanced at the car beside me, like we do. I have caught all kinds of drivers doing all kinds of interesting things. I fear that I have been caught eating, putting on make-up, texting, and yes – picking my nose at a red light. Embarrassing, but true. This time, stopped right next to me, was a male driver wearing a turban. “How cool is that?” I thought. When I was a child, I only heard of turbans in fables or the movies. Now I see various headdresses at our neighborhood schools and on my street. Diversity is one of the reasons I like where I live.
Then, just a few minutes later while I was waiting in the pick-up zone, I observed a woman who appeared to be from India. She was smiling as she watched her three adorable kids run up a hill to the front door of the community pool. Her gaze was filled with pride and love for her children. Another woman from a different ethnic background, had one child (older, quicker and confident) walk up ahead and another by her side looking at everything along the way. The mom said to her child, “Yes, it IS a long walk, but we are taking our time. Maybe it wouldn’t seem as long if we picked up our pace.” The Mom smiled at me as I admired her interaction with her curious and laid back daughter. How beautiful all people are to me.
Diversity opens our minds to new ideas, cultures, languages, foods, and perspectives. It seems to enhance tolerance and understanding. I agree with the statement, “Tolerance is a friendly and fair attitude toward unfamiliar opinions and practices or toward the persons who practice them.” This does not weaken my own convictions of truth, but enriches my life and expands my world.
Our tolerance and respect for others and their beliefs does not cause us to abandon our commitment to the truths we understand and the covenants we have made.
Having mutual respect for another regardless of the doctrines and philosophies which we may believe is Christ’s way. The teachings of the Quran include “We must respect this God-given dignity in every human being, even in our enemies. For the goal of all human relations—whether they are religious, social, political, or economic—ought to be cooperation and mutual respect.” – Dr. Alwi Shihab Everyone has the right to believe in God and to worship God how he sees fit, as long as it doesn’t conflict with another’s right to do the same. So, as I respect others’ ethnicity and choice of religious practice, I hope when I am “caught,” whether at a red light or elsewhere in my community, practicing my religious beliefs that others will respect me and my right to believe, as well.