Equal But Different

In our parents elementary schools, and our grandparents schools before them, they were allowed to believe that some cultures and races were better than others.  Our American society thought it was okay to think that you were right and better than someone else because of the color of your skin or the social status you or your parents have.  In order to change that, most kids in our generation were raised being told that everyone is the same.  The new girl in school who just moved to our country from Poland was the same as the rest of us.  And my friend who spoke spanish whose parents came from Mexico was the same as me.  Now, to the extent of equality that is absolutely true.  We are of the same value as individuals.  We all deserve respect and we all have equal potential to be really great people.  However, we are not the same. 

No one is the same and that really is okay.  We as human beings find it hard to be okay with things we don’t understand.  We want to know that there is a solution and clean definition for everything.  For all of time people have thought of other social groups as less than themselves simply because they were afraid of the fact that they couldn’t understand them; putting them in a box of judgement was easier than getting to know them.  But saying that we’re all the same is just as easy and also incorrect.  I am from Connecticut, which has a different culture from Oregon.  I have certain expectations and beliefs about how things should be that are based on what I was taught in Connecticut, which is different from the way people see things here.  I would be offended if you tried to tell me that I was the same as my friends who were born and raised in Newberg, because I’m not.  To say that we are the same would be to ignore a huge aspect of my life and who I am.  I am not defined by where I come from either.  I’m very different from people I know at home also, so you can’t put me in a Connecticut box and say I’m just like all of them either. 

So what do we do?  Talk about all of it.  My friends are super ready to tell you that I have a different out look because of where I’m from.  They don’t judge me for it, but we are aware that we are different.  It’s important because when I do something that is weird to them they often say “Oh Connecticut!” in an endearing voice and sometimes I have to say “Nope, that one was me.” I feel offended for a minute that they were generalizing because of where I’m from, but if they never said anything to begin with, I wouldn’t have been able to put the record straight and helped them to understand me better.  So if you have friends who are different from you, you have to be willing to be offended sometimes, and care enough about each other to talk about it and explain more about who you are.  In the end you can work together, not as the same, but just as you are.

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