Overcoming Ethnocentrism and Prejudice

Why is it that we always think our way of living is better than another’s? Why do we feel like every other country in the world would be better if they were like us? This idea that we have a ‘better’ way of living is at best ignorant, and at worst egotistical and selfish.Who are we to say that someone else is or isn’t happy? Often ethnocentrism turns to prejudice, which becomes anger and hatred.

We need to remember that people can live happily in different ways. We are all different. We have different backgrounds, different cultures, different beliefs. There will always be something that doesn’t agree with you in every single belief you own. It doesn’t make them wrong, just different. Someone living in another country will have a different way of life, with different political, moral and religious beliefs. We are not better than them, and they are not better than us. We are just different.

My own medical issues have shown me how important it is to understand that everyone has a story. Anyone you see on the streets, at the mall, in the grocery store can be going through something you don’t quite understand. Maybe they have an invisible illness, or maybe a family member or friend just died, or maybe it is their birthday. We can’t know their personal story, so we should avoid judging. That is not for us to do.

If you believe in New Year’s Resolutions, or just want to improve yourself, why not start by being understanding, thinking the best of others, and doing something nice for a stranger as often as you can. Even an encouraging smile can change someone’s day for the better.

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