One of the greatest abilities human beings have is the ability to change — an important point for you to help your children understand. Just because someone is one way or feels a certain way about someone else one day doesn’t mean that they’ll always feel that way. This is true for both kids and adults.
The movie Hotel Transylvania gives a humorous take on this theme. The movie depicts monsters as the “innocent” beings vilified by evil humans. They seek refuge away from humanity. But like humans, they perpetuate the stories of all the horrors done by their perceived enemies — us.
These myths have a basis in fact, but the facts are never challenged, out of fear. It’s assumed that nothing’s changed — at least not for the better – between the two groups.
Enter the human protagonist. Through him, the monsters learn that humans may not be quite as scary as they thought. They even learn that humanity has changed their attitudes over several hundred years.
Like the monsters, the things a person often likes or dislikes about another are based on fears and misconceptions. Some are completely unfounded. Others may be rooted in a fact or event from a long time ago.
As a society, it’s possible to see how this has happened and continues to happen even now. It wasn’t long ago that the majority of Americans thought interracial romances and marriages were wrong. It was actually illegal in most of this country until 1967. Even after it was legalized, it was still considered taboo by many, but kids today are far blinder to this kind of prejudice than previous generations.
There are many areas where you can choose to differentiate yourself from others. Mentally, you can categorize people by race, political party, economic standing, religious beliefs, and level of education. You can even divide people by the types of foods they like and whether they are cat people or dog people.
You can choose to use these labels in an effort to keep separate from people who are different from you or you can use these labels to help you find people with whom you have something in common.
It can come as a surprise when someone with whom you share so many common interests with has a very strong position on something that is extremely different from your own.
These differences can be polarizing and actually result in the end of good friendships.
When you decide to give people the benefit of the doubt and accept them for who they are — even when you don’t agree with them – you’re giving yourself a gift. You now have the opportunity to learn and grow as an individual. By knowing yourself and understanding different views as well as the goodness in them, it’s possible someone’s position will soften.
When you’re open to liking people despite your differences, you allow for a peaceful dialogue. You open yourself to becoming a better human being because you’re embracing your differences.
It’s interesting to note that as an adult, you’re far more likely to recognize that some of the most important people in your life are people you probably wouldn’t have befriended earlier. Sometimes the very traits and qualities that would have divided you from others as a kid are suddenly attractive later in life. Some traits may have softened or changed, but it’s also your attitude that’s evolved.
When you give yourself and others the opportunity to change and experience other people for who they truly are, the world is a better place.
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