Skip to content

The More We Focus on Our Differences, the More Divided We Become

A few years ago, I spent two days speaking and teaching frisbee to students at West Dover School in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. One situation in particular that stands out comes from a grade 2/3 class. I had all of the kids partner up and grab a frisbee and find some space in the gym so they could practice throwing and catching. For this age, I usually will have the kids give each other a high five and take one step back, so I can ensure that they don’t get too far apart and have the ability to work on their throwing and catching mechanics and technique.

One pair in particular (a grade 2 white boy and a grade 3 black girl) were partnered up because they were both left without a partner. They seemed to be having trouble getting started so I went over to find out what was wrong. The boy had his hand out but the girl wouldn’t give him a high five. When I asked what was wrong, she told me that she didn’t want to touch him because he was in grade 2. I explained to her that the year before, she was in grade 2, and how would she have felt if a student in grade 3 didn’t give her a high five for the same reason. With some reluctance, she finally gave him a high five and they started to play catch.

What stood out to me that it had nothing to do with gender or race – it was all about the fact that he was in a lower grade.

I think we can learn a lot from this girl.

I’ve spoken all over the world to kids of all ages, genders, races, religions, nationalities, and socio-economic standing. I care about every single kid equally. I’ve worked with kids who have billionaire parents. I’ve worked with kids who lost family members during a war and had to escape their country after being held hostage. I’ve worked with kids who have seen their father killed on their front lawn. I’ve worked with kids who have never played a sport before because it’s not allowed in their religion.

I try to focus on what makes us similar and what we share. It’s easy to focus on what makes us different. That’s natural. Go travel somewhere that you’ve never been before and the first thing you’ll notice is what is painful, or different – the electrical outlets, the money, the language, the transit system. But if we instead focus on what is similar, we’ll feel more connected with our surroundings.

The same goes with people.

Given all that has been going on the last few weeks in the media, there has been a lot of anger, frustration, and fighting amongst friends and family. There are many people who have deactivated their social media accounts, deleted and blocked friends, and many more who are too afraid to say anything for fear of what will happen.

There are also many people who have said something but it was reactionary, and caused pain to others.

The pain of one person is real. When something happens to hurt them, they will understandably react. Someone’s individual pain shouldn’t be dismissed or minimized.

That being said, I also think that individuals need to be better at looking inside themselves. There is a lot of division with what is going on. It’s been hard to navigate given the anger, pain, and coverage that is being shared. Sometimes it’s tough to know what’s truth. What is actually happening. We are so quick to judge given the accessibility of video and photos today. So often we see what we want to see. I really like the quote “clean your own room first”. So many people aren’t taking care of things in their own lives but are the first to judge or tell other people what they should do or what they are doing wrong. I know so many people who are living their own lives and their own truth and don’t worry about the opinion of others.

Twenty years ago it was a much different time. People were more connected with the people around them. Today, although we’re more connected tech wise than ever before, we’re more disconnected from people and our own lives than ever before.

I have been watching, listening, reading, learning, and navigating all that is happening. It’s a sensitive time and sometimes it’s better to say nothing at all because if you do say something, people will look for what’s missing or what is wrong in what you say.

I’ve listened to many passionate, empathetic, kind, intelligent, well spoken people who care deeply about their community. They want to make a real change in their community and a lot of what they are saying goes against a lot of what my friends and family are saying. That’s an uncomfortable feeling. Why? Because I’m trying to figure out what I feel, what I believe, what I should do.

One thing that I do know – I’m going to keep listening and learning. I’m going to do my best to keep my room clean. Keep looking for what makes us similar. And keep trying my best to make a positive impact in the work I do and the sport I love.

Stay healthy, happy, and safe.

Here are a few powerful videos that I’ve watched that have really given me a lot to think about. You don’t have to agree with what is being said, but there’s a lot of truth and important messages to think about being shared.

If you have videos or articles that you have found valuable, please share them with me!

If you have videos or articles that you have found valuable, please share them with me!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *