Toleration

“A wonderful fact to reflect upon, that every human creature is constituted to be that profound secret and mystery to every other. A solemn consideration, when I enter a great city by night, that every one of those darkly clustered houses encloses its own secret; that every room in every one of them encloses its own secret; that every beating heart in the hundreds of thousands of breasts there, is, in some of its imaginings, a secret to the heart nearest it!”– A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens.

It really is difficult to grasp the concept that people come from different backgrounds and environments. People are often consumed by the superficial idea that human-beings are simply living creatures that have no depth and mind of their own. This makes it easy for us to judge people by their “covers.” We often assume the obvious through one’s appearance and consequently, never fully allow people to define themselves the way they want to be seen/viewed by others. This, I feel, is man-kind’s hamartia, our instinct to automatically judge others through what we see, physically, rather than emotionally/mentally. With that being said, it is most evident that we mistaken people’s true characteristics by simply disregarding the fact that they have a history, a past… and most importantly, experience.

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The woman across the room who appears to be enjoying herself at the party, laughing and smiling, may be emotionally and mentally torn. She may be depressed, thinking about committing suicide, and for whatever reason? We don’t know… She may have a horrible family life or experiencing financial issues. However, we cannot tell…

We, as human-beings, must keep in mind that people come from different backgrounds, ethnicities, and environments. How one is raised, from childhood to adulthood, can ultimately decide how they are as an individual.  According to John Locke’s “tabula rasa” or blank page, personality is the result of the sensations that one feels throughout his life. He suggests that experience, and only experience, differentiates one character from another. Life-experiences, including happiness and tragedy, is what molds someone as they are today. Rather than being close-minded about people and judging them based on looks, it is best to consider all aspects of an individual’s being and existence, which includes their history, background, etc. 

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This brings me back to the general concept that on the inside, we are all the alike. We all have the potential to change our state of emotion, reevaluate our values and mindset, and ultimately determine how we want to see/be seen as. After all, everyone was born as a “blank page.” How we determine ourselves is what truly makes us unique… According to Locke, we are capable of modifying our surrounding physical and social environment. It is possible to improve the human condition because ultimately, we are the ones in charge of our own destinies… not anyone else.

So before you judge that girl who wears the headwrap everyday to school and that boy whose father just passed away, consider this: How you view others does not only affect them,but also yourselves. Your personal viewpoints on things determines how YOU as a person, not them. What determines how you judge others is based on your own set of morals and ethics, not what they wear or how they act. And most importantly, remember that people are all the same. We all have a brain and a heart. People all want to be treated equally and be seen as important. We all have the same goal in life: to achieve happiness. Now that… is something we must use to compare ourselves to others.

tumblr_mwagpuMF0x1qmt5mvo1_500-Michelle Doan

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