It is time now for parents to teach young people early on that in diversity there is beauty and there is strength. Maya Angelou
Not so long ago, I received an email from a team member asking me to take a quick look at her latest blog. Darcy wrote of her emotional response to a church sermon. I was a bit taken aback, as we had yet to publish an article written by an editor that referenced a specific faith or practice, although we often refer to spirit and spirituality.
Living on the East Cost just outside one of our nations most diverse cities, one quickly realizes how fortunate it is to be surrounded by diversity and welcomed regardless of one's color, faith or family structure. Human relations are based on mutual understanding, which can only come from sharing our unique experiences and our personal interpretation of profound moments, like Darcy's reflection on a Sunday sermon.
Whether you worship in a mosque, temple or, like me, tend to ponder life during walking meditation, share you insights with others. Unshared experience only leads to false interpretation of others, further building the walls of prejudice. Those who claim to tolerate the color and/or practices of others should reflect deeply on the word "tolerate."
I, for one, find myself tolerating the sound of the legos dropping on the wooden floor above me as my son, Josa, attempts to find the perfect part to complete his masterpiece. Thousands of little pieces crash. I tolerate the the stench of the subway station on a hot and humid summer afternoon as I struggle through the crowds, hoping to get home in time for dinner. There's much I tolerate, I'm human and discomfort is often part of the human experience, but I have never "tolerated" the mere pretense of someone visibly different than myself sitting next to me on the train into the city. What does that even mean? I find the concept of tolerating others antiquated and harmful.
Rather than "tolerate," perhaps we can begin to accept, celebrate and embrace our neighbors and their children ending a long history of discrimination against those we deem different when in reality we are one.
Stephanie Jelley is co-founder and chief executive officer of umojawa, a crowdfunding platform supporting educational and not-for-profit organizations serving youth and their communities. Using new age digital media and innovative social media strategies, umojawa's crowdfunding platform helps educators, parent teacher volunteers, and organizations to effectively promote their initiatives.
Stephanie's path leading to umojawa, both professionally and personally, served as the perfect preparation for what would become umojawa, a "hybrid community for social change". She has developed and delivered programs to help promote mindfulness and social-emotional learning in projects for teens, educators and parents, with a particular focus on those in at-risk circumstances.
Through "The Center," she co-facilitated the installation of Mindfulness Without Borders Mindfulness Ambassador Council for Essex County, New Jersey at Rutgers University's Institute for International Peace. She has presented "An Alternative to the Habitual Thinking: Changing the Inner Dialogue" at Central Connecticut University with Dr. Daniel Barbazat, Professor of Economics at Amherst College and Executive Director of the Center for the Contemplative Mind in Society.
Stephanie is married and mother to three boys and one empress living outside New York City. To keep up with Stephanie's many characters (140 to be exact), follow her on Twitter @stephaniejelley @umojawa