Recently my husband and I visited Los Angeles. As he is a bit of an architecture fan we spent some time touring homes and buildings. High over the city, we visited Frank Lloyd Wright’s prairie-style Hollyhock House with its incredible merging of nature and the indoors. In Pasadena we saw arts and crafts houses built in the early 1900’s. These homes had stained glass and beautiful wood. Santa Monica boasted cute beach cottages with pastel colored cement walls and tiny gardens. Driving down Sunset Strip to the ocean we viewed large houses of every style and influence; Victorian painted ladies, 1980’s glass and stucco, English manors, and modern brick mansions. In viewing all these different style homes, it struck me how on the outside all of these homes looked different; different shapes, different colors, different building materials, different doors, windows, and rooflines, but in their base purpose they are all identical. Their purpose is to provide shelter. They are all the same while each is still unique.
Each home is unique because it is designed for a specific purpose and reason. No home has more value than another. It does not matter if you like one style of house over another, if you prefer brick, stucco, or wood. Your preference does not make one structure better than another. Is a Victorian house better than an English tutor? Don’t they each have their own role and purpose? A rooftop pool home in Cabo San Lucas may be gorgeous but does it make any sense in Nome Alaska? Each home serves a purpose and it has value in serving that purpose.
My thoughts quickly switched from buildings to people. We are each unique. It is apparent in our eye color, our hair color, and our skin tone. We are unique in our clothing, our jewelry, and if we have piercings or tattoos. Differences are in how we talk, what we talk about, and what we value. We are unique in where we live, how we live, and what we love. We are unique in our humor, our knowledge base, and our careers. But how often do we criticize, fear, or belittle those who are different from us? How often do we become frustrated, angry, and disappointed by those who do not think and act the way we do? How often do we forget that we are all the same and that we all have value?
All too often we focus on what we personally like and desire, and in doing so we unintentionally criticize and devalue others. When I was in Peru, Shaman Don Theo suggested that we do not call one thing “beautiful,” for in doing so we are implying that all other things are ugly. If we say we love chocolate, are we implying that we hate vanilla? If we say that skinny leg jeans are the coolest thing ever, are we insulting and belittling anyone not wearing them?
The ability to accept and love others as they are brings with it a sense of peace. All too often our ego tries to protect itself by diminishing anything that is not like itself. Unfortunately the result is personal pain. We attack and belittle any style, person, or belief that does not match our own. We try to force others to say and do and believe what we do. When we can not get them to change, we feel hurt, angry, disappointed, and vulnerable. We can not change others. We are all unique and inherently of value. Most important, we gain our strength from our inside, from our being, not by being surrounded by other who mimic us.
How often is our anger and pain based on others not doing, saying, or being as we wish they would be? Are there times you have caught yourself hoping that a person would change how they act or what they say? Are there times that you made fun of someone because they did not dress or believe as you do? What could you gain by accepting that person as they are?