Sending a Ripple

North Oakland Community Coalition encourages tolerance

When people consider the aftermath of the recent Presidential election and the resulting bedlam that has ensued, many may be asking “What is missing in our society and how can we, as individuals, make a difference?” The answer, plain and simply, is acceptance.
We live in a society of free speech and free thinking. Somewhere along the way, however, this freedom has been falsely misinterpreted to mean that we can express our disfavor through actions of violence, vandalism, or contempt. What role can we play in triggering that first positive ripple that can ultimately reverberate throughout society and the world?
Whether we are speaking about the acceptance of an election, of people amongst us who subscribe to a different faith, religion, or sexual orientation, or of an outcast in school, we have to realize that it starts within each one of us. We must assume the individual responsiblility for ourselves by adopting acceptance of others, of other points of view, of other faiths, and simply of winning and losing.
We can do this by drawing on our inner faiths that are inherently guided by good will for all men, kindness, and compassion for others. We must learn tolerance through acceptance and model the same good behavior that we learned as children through sportsmanship by winning or losing gracefully.
Personally, I recall being a particularly bad loser as a kid, but no adult has ever told me to make a sign to blame the referee for my loss, or break a storefront window, or start a fire in the street because I thought it wasn’t fair.
As individuals, we must set the expectation for those who follow us, most notably our children, that in life there will be winners and losers, and things will not always go our way. Moreover, through acceptance we will be armed with the tools to cope with life’s inequities.
Acceptance also means that we must accept responsibility for our own behavior. There is no justification for name calling, labeling and destructive or immoral actions. A positive dialogue is always a better way to resolve disagreements and understand eachother.
In short, it starts with every one of us, one single person. Individually, when we learn, model, and teach acceptance, we represent that single pebble that sends off the ripples of hope for a better world. Regardless of whether we are big fish in a little pond or little fish in a big pond, we all can make a huge difference within our section of the largest pond we inhibit- our Earth.

Patti Charette, NOCC Youth/Outreach Coordinator

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