Racism, Politics & Forgiveness | 5 Tips for Cultural Forgiveness

The 2016 presidential race is heated and brutal. The rich, the wealthy, the poor, the Black, the White, the Brown, the Greedy, the educated and the Uneducated are at war on the largest platform in America. Whether the presidential debates are heavily focused on abortion, legalization of same sex marriage, healthcare, minimum wage, immigration, gun control, education or foreign policy, Americans (even with our differences) have shown that “agreeing to disagree” is almost impossible.

Why are Americans unable to disagree amicably? What makes adult men and women behave like children when someone does not agree with their perspective or ideology?

From the Black Lives Matter movement to the Oregon/FBI Standoff, differences of opinions continue to produce violent and aggressive outcomes. Can’t we all just get along? Can we forgive another person for being different? Thinking different? Wanting different?

This is an article about forgiveness. This is a moment to consider our differences versus our similarities. This is an opportunity to forgive and forget; to let go and allow other to be what they are without demanding they change to make us feel better.

Remember, it’s natural for our mind to automatically judge or stereotype others. Additionally, it is a challenge to view differences as “different” instead of “negative.” Just because a person is different or believes differently does not mean they are a bad person.  This negative view of the unknown or unusual may carry over into our daily lives and how receptive we are to new experiences and/or expanding our community. 

Again, this article is about forgiveness. Forgiving others for their differences is not about forgiving others for being different. It’s more about letting go of the concept that everything and/or everyone is the same; and accepting unique behaviors or unusual customs the contribute to a person’s character, personality and belief.

Forgiving others for their differences and becoming open to them, gives us the ability to gain a wealth of knowledge and learn to see eye-to-eye even if we somewhat disagree.

Here are a few tips to consider:

-       Acknowledge the beauty in your uniqueness. We are all unique. We all have different experiences, personalities, and features. A lot of times when people judge others for being different, maybe we believe that everyone should be the same. However, by recognizing the uniqueness in ourselves, we may realize the beauty and uniqueness in others.

-       Consider another’s cultural upbringing. We often model the behavior and environment we were raised in. So, what we learned and were taught as acceptable may conflict with the values of another. In order to avoid becoming offended or offensive, consider the fact that they belief or behavior may be appropriate where they came from.

-       Find the similarities between you and others. Across all cultures and various stages of life we all have one thing in common…we are human. We have emotions, needs, and a desire to form healthy connections and be understood. By finding the similarities, it may be easier to see that even across cultures we are more alike than we are different.

-       Recognize the positive qualities in others. By recognizing the positive qualities in others differences, we open ourselves up to the ability to view life from a new and positive perspective. Instead of looking for the negative, we will find the positive and hopefully, that concept will spill over into other areas of our lives.

-       Reframe your view of “differences.” When people think of differences there is often a negative stigma attached to it. But in order to have a better understanding and forgive others, we must reframe what “differences” symbolizes to us. By doing this we are able let go of the negative attachment and picture differences as more of an opportunity. An opportunity to learn more about others which in turn tells us more about ourselves.

Forgiving others for their differences helps us adjust your expectations for how things should be to a more flexible and open-minded view. Next time you see an unusual custom or behavior, view it as a learning experience and you will begin to open your mind.