DR. CELESTE CATANIA-OPRIS, PH.D., LMFT
With everything going on in the world today, the world can appear scary sometimes. Every single day, news outlets cover stories discussing violence and tragedy. During these times, we tend to point fingers at one another and look for answers. We want to know, who is responsible? Which types of people are more likely to cause such horrible acts? This is how cultural division occurs. It is a lot easier to create separation and to other another group of individuals so that blame can be given to those who are different than we are.
With this mentality, we may miss the beauty surrounding us. We can be so fixated on how different we are instead of focusing on how similar we are to each other. We all feel pain. We all yearn for love. We all breathe the same air. Our cultures may be different, but many of us share similar values. Numerous cultures believe in family, love, and religion. Sure, the color of our skin may be different, the way we show love or the type of religion we practice may be diverse, but many of the principles we uphold are on the same spectrum.
When in doubt, challenge yourself to be open and understanding. Remember to learn, teach, and spread positivity.
Immerse yourself into other cultures whenever you have the opportunity. For instance, try different foods. Your culture may eat rice but other cultures make rice in their own unique way, so taking yourself out of your comfort zone at times can be fun. Perhaps you could go with a friend to their church or temple. Many religions believe in God and spreading love and good faith. You may be pleasantly surprised how much your religion has in common with your friend’s faith. When we don’t understand things, we tend to push them away. Instead, remind yourself that you can always ask questions, clarify any misunderstandings, and most importantly, learn.
We may not realize this, but we have an enormous influence on shrinking the division that exists in this world. Instead of ignoring or lecturing those who may not “get” us, teach. Even though we may not be teachers by occupation, we have the power to spread knowledge, inform those around us, and explain what we mean when we say or do things a certain way. One of the most detrimental ways of speaking is when we use the terms them or they loosely to discuss another group of individuals. This whole them against us mentality is what drives the separation in this world. Instead, if something horrific happens, it was the individual who committed the act, not the entire culture. We have the capability to make positive changes so that the next generation can see more promise and possibility than we were able to experience.
All of our personal experiences are real, to each of us. These experiences create our truths and reality, and lead us to our beliefs of how the world really is. However, remember to approach life, and those in it, with an open mind and positive outlook. The more we hear and see negativity in this world, the harder it is for us to close the gap that exists when trying to find peace. When negativity approaches you, react with love. View others as not being ignorant, but with an open heart. Try to find the aspects that we have in common and how these factors undoubtedly connect us.
Try to be the positive example you wish to see in this world, even though it may seem impossible at times. Be a better person each day. Learn from your past and grow for your future. You have these strengths and capabilities. The speed of change and acceptance may not be as we envisioned, but the possibility for a better future gives us the hope we need to keep on trying.
Celeste Catania-Opris, Ph.D., LMFT, offers therapeutic services to individuals, couples, and families; www.TherapyForModernHousewives.com.