Welcome to Connecting, our new blog adventure!

You may have read our earlier blogs and words of wisdom.  Connecting is replacing all of them although you may see some of your favorite topics show up here.

Connecting is about connections of all kinds.  We will discuss connecting with your true self, connecting with family and friends, connecting with energy, connecting your thoughts and actions, and much more!  It will include stories, inspirations, and food for thought.

 

I hope you will join us as we travel along this journey!

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Lessons From Our Ancestors

 

 

In the previous series “The Day The World Stopped,” we discussed various eras and proposed questions to the reader regarding specific challenges of each era. Only a few eras were discussed with a very minimal set of challenges described. Many more challenges were considered for each post. However, in the interest of focus and length, a very narrow focus was determined for each article. Each of the modern eras would require an entire book to take an in-depth look at the challenges of each era.

 

Life In The Past

 

This brings us to the question “What can we learn from our ancestors?” A study of history shows us many different things. In some cases, they did things we applaud, but in other cases we disapprove of their behavior. We also know that their lifestyle was very different.

 

Many people in the past lived in conditions that we would not be able to tolerate today. Likewise, they ate food and drank water that we would consider inedible and undrinkable. They also had a different perspective on life. The behaviors of people today would be considered abhorrent to people of years gone by.

 

Perspective

 

Thus, as much as people find some of the behaviors of people in the past unacceptable, people of those eras would find behaviors of today equally unacceptable. This is something to really consider. Are people today really better? Are people today in a place to judge?

 

My argument would be that until we understand history and learn from it, we should not judge those who came before us. Each of them has a story and until we know enough to begin to understand their life, we cannot know their struggles or their joys. We need to understand the cultures of the past as well as the life of any individual that we are judging. Additionally, we need to judge on all merits not a single dimension that we deem bad.

 

Changes Through Time

 

Views on everything from marriage, families, work, social norms, slavery, war, and more have changed throughout time. Some of the changes one might say are because we have become more sophisticated and aware while other changes were a matter of necessity. We will take a brief look at a few examples.

 

Families

 

The family unit has changed dramatically over the course of history. If we limit the scope of discussion to the approximately 400 years since Europeans came to America, we will see drastic changes. For instance, many families years ago had a large number of children – partially out of necessity (e.g. children to work the farm) and partially because of limited forms of birth control. Today, the average number of children per family is small with many people having no children.

 

If we look at households, we will find many more single parent households today than 150 years ago. In part, people in the past were much more likely to marry if a woman became pregnant than they are today. Secondly, men needed women to cook, clean, and care for children while they worked and women needed a man to provide for her and the children. Thus, many marriages were a matter of convenience and not love.

 

Another major shift is that elders today typically live on their own or in some type of senior living. Years ago, they would live with their children. If they had no children, a younger sibling, niece, nephew, or neighbor often helped care for them. Facilities still existed, but they were mostly for people who required help their families could not provide.

 

Slavery

 

When people think of slavery, a lot of them think of early America. Slavery, however, has existed throughout recorded time and has existed in various forms.

 

If we look at slavery in America, it varied widely. Slavery, thought of as restricted to the southern states actually existed in the northern states for a period of time. Even in the South, the number of slaves and percentage of people owning slaves varied from area to area. In 1860, one source states that 75% of white Americans owned no slaves; however, this was across all states. The story is very different if you focus on the southern states.*

 

Plantation owners with lots of slaves were likely to treat slaves as we perceive slave life. ** However, families that had a handful of slaves treated them in a variety of different ways. Some were treated no different than those on plantations. However, others were treated more humanely. I have personally seen a will that provided financial support for an elderly slave for the remainder of her life. In another will, land was designated to become the property of the head of a slave family if the laws at the time of the person’s death allowed him to own property. If not, the family was to be allowed to continue living there indefinitely.

 

There were other groups, such as, the Quakers that strongly believed slavery was wrong. Some of these people actually became slave owners to keep the slaves from being treated poorly and as a means to free them. Thus, when you find out that someone was a slave owner, you really need to ask the question, “What kind of a slave owner was he?” Knowing the person owned slaves is not enough to determine the person’s character or behavior. In those days, there were many different perceptions and practices when it came to slavery.

 

War

 

The last example is the view on war. It seems nations, clans, regions, etc. have always been at war with each other. Conflict appears to be part of human nature and the various cultures around the world. Yet, the view on war has changed over time.

If we consider the Revolutionary War, most people in America considered it a necessity to gain independence. Even the Quakers, who technically did not support war, found ways at times to provide support to the men who were fighting for independence.

 

Revolutionary War soldiers were considered heroes; hence, the creation of Sons of the American Revolution and Daughters of the American Revolution. Soldiers who fought for the Union in the Civil War were also treated with great respect. Later, after WWII, the soldiers and the people of the time were referred to as the greatest generation.

 

After that, however, Americans view of war began to break down with those who served in Vietnam being treated awful by the public. People failed to see that those who served were simply doing the job their country requested of them. Instead, they saw the service members themselves as bad.

 

Today, people appear split, often along political lines, in their support for the latest conflict and for our service men and women.

 

A New Perspective

 

With these examples, you can see that views and perspectives have changed over time. Sometimes the changes have been for the better, but have they always been for the better? And, how many things really haven’t changed, but we simply perceive that they have.

 

The next time you find yourself beginning to judge a group of people of the past, a specific ancestor that may have committed a crime or lived a less than stellar lifestyle, or even someone in your life today, stop. Instead of judging, ask yourself, what do I really know about their life and the choices that the person/group may or may not have faced.

 

I highly recommend that you research and learn about the people and the era. For situations since the time print has existed, I recommend books and newspapers from the era as a source of understanding. Books and articles written later have a perspective of people of that time on the past and are less accurate at conveying the real situation. Research often gives you a much better understanding of the person and the perspective of the times.

 

If the person is someone in your life today, research by talking with the person and truly seeking to understand. Whether, in the past or present, truly trying to understand someone else, their culture, and the issues in their life is a great way to expand your awareness. You may even find your life changed because of it!

 

 

*https://www.theroot.com/slavery-by-the-numbers-1790874492

** 31% of slaves in 1860 were on plantations according to https://www.theroot.com/slavery-by-the-numbers-1790874492

 

 

Prehistoric Era

 

 

In this series of posts, we are exploring what would happen if the world suddenly stopped and you were transported to another time in history. Previous articles have explored eras within the last 250 years. Now, we will turn our attention to the days before humans existed.

 

You are a triceratops, one of many dinosaurs roaming the land that would later be called Colorado. You live on instinct and instinct alone. Other triceratops and dinosaurs of other types don’t really worry you except for your dreaded enemy – the tyrannosaurus rex (T-Rex).

 

Following Your Instinct

 

Connected to instinct, you spend your days searching for palms and ferns to eat while keeping an eye open for a T-Rex lurking nearby. Food is your primary focus as it takes massive amounts to sustain your body, which weighs thousands of pounds. Fortunately, you have several hundred teeth to help meet your needs.

 

You may communicate with other triceratops, including performing mating rituals. These behaviors are also instinctual. Your connection to other dinosaurs is simply to show your dominance or to attract others of your species for mating so that the species will continue.

 

You also have the instinct to fight when necessary. Your long horns come in handy when you can’t avoid a T-Rex. You may also use them to battle those of your own species. Again, everything you do is based on instinct.

 

In Your World

 

Coming back to the present, the questions for you are: How often do you follow your instinct? How often do you follow your intuition? Do you go against your own nature?

 

In the next article “Lessons From Our Ancestors,” we will wrap this series of articles up by considering things that we can learn from the past.

 

Revolutionary War

 

In this series of posts, we are exploring what would happen if the world suddenly stopped and you were transported to another time in history. Previous articles have explored the WWII and Civil War eras. Now, we will turn our attention to the days of our country’s formation – approximately 240 years ago.

 

Only moments ago you heard the bells ring throughout the city of Philadelphia. You rush to the State House to hear the very first reading of the Declaration of Independence.

 

This day has been long in coming. The men in America have grown weary of England’s taxes and rules. They have decided that they will no longer stand for England’s rule. Thus, they have created a Continental Congress, held secret meetings, and prepared as best they could to hold off the British Army.

 

Battles Have Begun

 

Battles have already begun, but British troops have not yet reached Philadelphia. However, you know that they will be heading toward you soon. The British would love nothing more than to take the city that has been so instrumental in the fight for independence.

 

You love America and have been involved in rounding up men to join the militia in preparation for the day that the British move your direction. You have become connected to this land and to your brothers who have also come here seeking freedom of religion and ideas. Yet, you remain conflicted.

 

Connections

 

Despite your differences with The Crown, you have connections that run deep in your homeland. You have left so many of your friends and family behind in England. In addition, all your ancestors have lived there for as far back as records exist.

 

So, as you prepare for the fight ahead, you do so because your strength of conviction in the goals and ideals you share with the men of this land outweigh your connection to England. Your family and friends are not your enemies and you are not theirs. Neither is your homeland really your enemy. It is simply that you and your brothers in America want to break the connection between yourselves and the King who is keen on taxation without representation and punitive actions to keep the colonies in line.

 

In Your World

 

Coming back to the present, the questions for you are: Is there anything that you believe in strongly enough that you would give up your friends, family, and homeland for it? Do you always direct your anger/conflict in the right direction and toward the right person? How do you handle connections to two things in conflict?

 

In the next article “The Day The World Stopped – Prehistoric Era,” we will dive into a world where humans did not exist.

 

Civil War Era

 

 

In this series of posts, we are exploring what would happen if the world suddenly stopped and you were transported to another time in history. The previous article explored the WWII era. We will now transport to a time over 150 years ago to the days of civil unrest in what was a not-so-united country.

 

In recent years it has become clear that war is likely on the horizon. The situation, as you understand it, depends a lot on where you live. The North and the South each have their own perspective.

 

Perspective From The North

 

On March 21, 1861, just days before the Civil War would start, the Quad-City Times in Davenport, Iowa stated, “The grand object to be attained is the preservation of the Union of these States. United in one common family, and bound together by strong fraternal feelings these States present a noble front to the world . . . We are threatened with destruction. Is it peace or war?”*

 

Perspective From The South

 

The South, however, didn’t have the same perspective. Days after the war started, the Montgomery Weekly Post wrote, “Seven sovereign States asserted their right to be free and independent – a right which no man or set of men dare to question; they erected for themselves a government adapted to their own interests and purposes. They interfered with no right of other countries or other sections. They respectfully solicited a peaceable settlement of all disputed questions with the Government of the United States; they have made every honorable effort that could be made to prevent the shedding of blood and the desolation that must ensue, and finally, after failing in all our efforts at negotiation, and all our endeavors to effect a peaceable solution of the difficulties, our authorities have courteously demanded the giving up of those positions upon our borders, held by the armed forces of the United States.”**

 

Choices

 

You have volunteered to fight for your state. However, it wasn’t really a choice that you made on the issues of slavery or states rights as much as it was standing for your land, your neighbor, and your state. Your connection and commitment starts at home and radiates out from there. The further away, the less connected you are to the people, beliefs, and land. You like your life and don’t have a desire to change.

 

The Border States

 

Like you, most people support the region where they live. Thus, although there are exceptions, most men in the North support the Union while most men in the South support the Confederacy. Only the Border States are in flux with people actually picking sides. It is here that they hear more about the views of both sides. And, it is here that the two sides collide.

 

For these men and their families, the choice is difficult. Their personal beliefs are a consideration. However, they are strongly connected to their neighbors and their families, who may have different perspectives. They are also connected to their town and state. However, their state has not picked sides. It remains with the Union, but also supports slavery. Thus, they know that they may end up fighting against their friends, family, and neighbors.

 

In Your World

 

Coming back to the present, the questions for you are: Are you strongly connected to your friends, family, city, state, and country? Do you get information on issues from multiple perspectives? Could you fight (even without taking up arms) against your friends and family?

 

In the next article “The Day The World Stopped – The Revolutionary War Era,” we will dive into life nearly 250 years ago.

*Quad-City Times, Davenport, Iowa, Mar 21, 1861, p.2, https://www.newspapers.com/clip/33965391/peace_or_war/

 

**Montgomery Weekly Post, Montgomery, Alabama, Apr 16, 1861, p. 7.
https://www.newspapers.com/clip/33966351/who_is_responsible_for_the_civil_war/

 

 

WWII Era

 

 

This is the first in a series of posts about what would happen if the world suddenly stopped and you were transported to another time in our history. In the first installment, we will go back approximately 75 years to a time when World War II was in full swing and the country was finally beginning to recover from the Great Depression.

 

The Absence of Electronics

 

The first thing you notice is that most of the electronics that you depend on to connect to the world do not exist – no computers, no iPads, no smart phones, no TVs. Phones exist, but you likely have a party line that you share with your neighbors. Long-distance calls are rare, expensive, and really poor quality.

 

News comes from the newspaper and a battery-powered radio (if you are lucky enough to own one). The rest of your news comes in the form of hand-written letters. Matter of fact, you write several letters per week to family and friends. Of course, letters to servicemen, particularly those serving over seas, are of top priority.

 

Letters

 

For men who are serving in the military, letters are the primary connection to people back home. You try to keep the letters cheerful and upbeat per the government’s guidelines. You are not to share any news that might be depressing or negative except if absolutely necessary. Then you are to keep it brief and factual.

 

Letters are also your only connection to your loved ones in the service. You spend lots of time praying for their safety and praying for the next letter to arrive. That letter tells you that they were at least alive several days to a month ago. The letters are often short and lacking details of where they are or what is happening as such information is strictly forbidden and will be censored if a soldier dare write about it.

 

Strong Connections

 

You are very connected to the people around you as you are all in the same situation. Nearly every person has a son, grandson, nephew, brother, uncle, or father that is serving.* You all know the pain of separation and nearly everyone knows someone who has died in the war. You and your neighbors are a family and support each other.

 

Friends, family, and neighbors provide both emotional support and day-to-day support. You share ration coupons despite it being technically illegal. Your kid’s feet are growing and they need shoes. Without the coupons, you will not be allowed to purchase the needed shoes. Meanwhile, you don’t drink a lot of coffee, so you give those ration coupons to your friends so that they can enjoy their coffee.

 

You also work with the schools, churches, and other community groups to support the war. You are all one community. The community collects scrap metal with people giving up things that really aren’t scrap for the sake of helping the war effort. You are connected to everyone else. The entire country has the same goal – you want the war to end so that all your loved ones can come home.

 

You know sacrifice. Yet, you know that others have sacrificed more than you. You feel blessed that your sacrifice has not been greater.

 

And In Your World

 

Coming back to the present, the questions for you are: Could you live in a world without electronic communication? What would you do if you had to write letters and wait days or weeks for a response? How strong is your connection with your family, neighbors, and friends?

 

In the next article “The Day The World Stopped – The Civil War Era,” we will dive into life over 150 years ago.

 

* Note: There were a few women that served in the military during WWII. However, this is written with a focus on men, as a vast majority of those that served were men.

 

Steppin in someone else's shoes

 

 

People often use phrases such as, “You can’t understand until you have walked a mile in their shoes” and “Before you judge, step into her shoes.” These sayings were likely derived from the phrase “step into someone’s shoes,” which means to take on a particular role that someone else has been doing.

 

In this case, it means to live the other person’s life or to connect with them in a way that you truly understand what has been going on in their life. The idea is to be empathetic to the person. This is never as easy as one might make it out to be because no two people’s experience is the same.

 

Differences

 

Two people that have lost a partner may react differently to that loss. One person may have died suddenly, while another died after years of illness. These two situations are very different. The partner will grieve in both cases, but in the case of the person who dies after a long illness, much of the grieving may have occurred before the actual death.

 

Even two people that are going through very similar losses will grieve differently. One person may grieve over a couple of months while another one may grieve for a year. Additionally, people’s grieving may take different forms. One person may need to surround themselves with friends and family. They may talk a lot about the person that has passed. The other person may grieve very privately needing space and alone time.

 

Empathy

 

Thus, when we put ourselves in their shoes, it is not good enough to have general empathy for the person. It is important to take it a step further. We must listen and try to understand what that person specifically is going through. Additionally, we must be extremely careful not to put our experiences or beliefs on others.

 

For example, if a person has had a loss and grieved deeply and inwardly for months, they shouldn’t believe that they are showing empathy for someone else if they encourage them to be alone and out of the social network. If they do and the other person is the type of person that needs to be out with friends to heal, they are not showing empathy at all despite their good intentions.

 

Truly In The Person’s Shoes

 

This example can be extrapolated to infinite scenarios. It is important to allow people to speak for themselves and express what they are going through. Then, people can support them in their situation. People should not, however, assume they understand what any specific individual or group is going through.

 

 

This is why it is important to give individuals and groups a voice rather than speaking for them. Even when people try to advocate for others with the absolute best of intentions, they are bound to get it wrong. They are advocating a story that they have created rather than the real story. Sometimes those stories overlap considerably; sometimes they don’t.

 

It is only by listening to others and their personal journey that we can have true empathy for them. Attempts at empathy are better than none, but does not stand up to true empathy, which is gained only by connecting to the person and their story.

 

Social Media

 

 

Social media usage has risen dramatically over the last decade. In 2018, Pew Research stated that 68% of adults in the U.S. use Facebook. * A lower percentage of adult Americans use Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Snapchat than Facebook. However, none of the platforms dips below 20% and the total numbers are quite significant although even considering overlap of usage between apps.

 

The reason for the rise in social media usage is a combination of general industry growth, desire to connect, business demands, and a desire for attention. The industry has grown as new platforms evolved – each with its own focus and its own attraction to various age groups and types of businesses.

 

Desire To Connect

 

The initial boom in social media – and what keeps it going – is the desire for people to connect. Although you can know what is happening around the world almost instantaneously, people are not as connected to those around them as they were 100 or even 50 years ago. Thus, people turn to social media to (re-)connect with their family and friends that are often spread around the world.

 

People also join groups of like-minded people to discuss issues that are relevant to them, such as, parenting, hiking, or genealogy. Thus, people connect with new people and often receive support for the challenges that they are facing in life.

 

Business

 

As these platforms have grown, businesses have turned to them as a way to connect to their clients. They utilize these platforms for advertising, event announcements, and client engagement. They have replaced some of the traditional marketing methods and are especially important in the coveted 18-49 market, as they are the highest users of social media. It has also allowed businesses to expand their client base in new ways.

 

Desire For Attention

 

For some people, however, the use of social media isn’t really to connect with anyone. It is simply to draw attention to themselves. They use it to dramatize their life or a life that they choose to portray. Often, they play on people’s emotions, gaining attention from people they don’t even know. One must assume that they are starved for attention in real life. Thus, they create a more exciting or dramatic life online by making sure that people notice them. As a result, they gain the attention that they desire.

 

Cause Disruption

 

Some of these attention seekers take it a step further. They purposefully attempt to anger people and create arguments. These trolls never provide real facts and are quick to make highly judgmental statements. If those don’t create enough rage, they will turn to name calling and personal attacks. These trolls gain attention for themselves, but the joy they get is in seeing other people angry. Nothing makes them go away quicker than a calm, logical response where you completely ignore their inflammatory statements.

 

As you can see, there are good, bad, and ugly aspects of social media. It is important to prop up the good. The rest is something that we all have to work together to overcome. Thus, the next time you see an inflammatory statement or post consider what is going to create a positive outcome. If we could make everything on social media positive for even one day, it could change the world!

 

 

*https://www.pewinternet.org/2018/03/01/social-media-use-in-2018/

 

The Art of Forgiveness

 

 

It is easy to gripe and complain about everything from work to family stresses to world politics. However, it is much more gratifying to seek out the good in everyone and everything along your path. It is easy to say, “But, so many things really are wrong with the world” or “Nobody gives good service” or “This person isn’t pulling their weight.” All of these things may be true, but seeing all the negative in the world serves no purpose.

 

Implications

 

This does not imply in any way that you do something reckless. You can’t  just assume the other person is a good person. You still need to be aware of your surroundings and follow your intuition about people and situations. However, it does directly imply that you should look for a speck of optimism in the most hopeless situations.  Likewise, your should find something positive to hold onto in everything – even bad experiences.

 

Experimenting

 

Try experimenting with looking for something good, positive, or optimistic. Start with simple easy situations. When a restaurant’s service is slow, don’t grumble and complain. Instead, realize that you are being given time to enjoy your companions. Alternately, if you are alone, you can spend the time relaxing. 

 

If you are in a rush and this happens, realize that you may be getting the message to slow down. You can also consider that perhaps you are learning that this restaurant is not a place to go for a quick meal, which may be useful information in the future.

 

Likewise, try giving a positive word or a smile to people that you encounter. Smiling and saying, “Hello” costs no more than scowling and ignoring people. That word or smile may make the other person’s day and it is guaranteed that acting in a negative way will do nothing to benefit anyone – especially you.

 

Additionally, notice small things (and big things) that people do – mowing the lawn, helping with a problem, cooking dinner, or taking out the trash. These are all positive things in the world. When you really look for the positive, the world changes into a much better place than it seems if you let all the negativity overwhelm you.

 

Transformation

 

As you find more and more positive things in the world, you may find yourself transforming from a critic to a cheerleader. You will find yourself expressing gratitude more often, you will be on the receiving end of more smiles, and will find more and more positive things in the world. Most of all, when you replace a negative thought, action, or word with a positive one, your energy level is raised and your heart is satisfied.

 

Embracing Differences

 

 

In our previous article “Unique Individuals,” we discussed how the differences in talents, abilities, circumstances, interests, and personalities make individuals unique and how that is beneficial to society.

 

In this article, we will take a look at what it means to truly embrace the differences in people. All the differences previously mentioned must be fully embraced plus differences in body styles, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, gender, choice of food, and even political beliefs.

 

This means far more than saying that you are open and that you respect diversity. It actually means walking the walk, which is more complicated than most people realize.

 

It’s Not Easy

 

Truly embracing differences means respecting other people’s rights to believe, say and do whatever they authentically believe within the constraints of the law. It becomes complicated, however, when beliefs clash. In this case, we must be very careful not to say that one person’s right is more important than another person’s right, which happens frequently in today’s society.

 

Right And Wrong

 

Although a given belief might be more or less accepted by society, doesn’t mean that the other person doesn’t have a right to have the opposite belief. Neither belief, however, should be used to threaten or harm others. Even those that hold the most accepted beliefs are in the wrong when they try to use their beliefs to harm others.

 

Likewise, suppression of opinion is against the foundation of our country. It may seem like the right thing to do to keep unpopular or negative opinions quiet. However, this is not only against our governing rules, but also sets a very dangerous precedent. The problem is that once suppression of voices is allowed, other voices may be suppressed. And, one day . . . that voice may be yours!

 

Truly Embracing Diversity

 

Thus, it is critically important to be open to allowing people to express their opinions. That, however, is only one step toward truly embracing all people.  To truly value diversity, you must also listen to opposing beliefs and opinions with the mindset of seeking to understand.*  

 

Sometimes you have to look past negativity or roughness of presentation to understand the other person’s perspective. This can be a considerable amount of work. However, without this effort, a person cannot truly understand the other person’s perspective. Thus, they cannot legitimately speak out against that person or the person’s ideas.

 

The bottom line is that it is important that we truly seek to understand opposing beliefs, opinions, and life circumstances. It is through this understanding that we grow as individuals and as a society.

 

* Concept by Stephen Covey . . . Seven Habits of Highly Effective People

 

 

unique individuals

 

 

Each of us is unique. We have various talents and abilities. How we use these is often tied to our personality, circumstances, and other interests. Thus, the same talents and abilities may manifest very differently for different people.

 

An Example

 

A simple example can be defined by considering two people who are very good with science and technology. One may really enjoy spending time alone and diving deep into a topic. That person may become a researcher or a technical expert in a specific field. Meanwhile, another person who is equally capable loves working with other people. The second person may select to be on a team project or lead a research project at a university.

 

Likewise, a third person may be very good with science and technology, but hasn’t attended college due to lack of opportunity or simply choice. In this case, a person who has the same talents may not have all the same knowledge. Alternately, they may have the same knowledge, but not the same credentials. This person may work as a science technician or research assistant.

 

Benefits

 

Talents, abilities, interests, circumstances, and personality add together in a way that makes every person unique. If this were not true, life on this planet would be a very different existence. Things would have to change because otherwise there would be roles that would go unfilled. In the same light, life would be boring because everybody with a given talent would be the same.

 

I try to imagine what it would be like if all singers sang exactly the same and had the exact same taste in music. How boring would that be?

 

Likewise, what if everyone who was outgoing wanted to lead the exact same organization? You would have far too many leaders for one organization and none for another.

 

Thus, it is so very important that we maintain the uniqueness of the people in our society. It is through that uniqueness that we thrive!

 

In the next article “Embracing Differences,” we will discuss what it really means to embrace differences in people. It may not be as simple as you think.