Have a heart for differences

Why do some of us struggle to accept people who are different from us?


Is it because we believe there is safety in numbers – especially if the people making up the numbers belong to the same herd as ourselves? Or is it because we see people’s differences as silent criticism on how we are “not different”?


In this edition of Eish! you can read about many people who stand out from the crowd. For instance, not all industrial psychology students can deliver a mean punch like Marelie Botha can and not all 25-year-olds have doctoral degrees like Kenny Mnisi does.


At the NWU there are lots of people who have different sexual orientations, are from different cultural groups or speak different languages. Their “being different” doesn’t determine what kind of people they are. A gay man speaking Setswana may be a real ray of sunshine, while a straight woman speaking Afrikaans may be a thunderstorm brewing on the horizon. Or the other way around, for that matter.


The NWU is currently undertaking an Ubuntu campaign to show us how to harness our differences to understand each other better. Look out for the next editions of Eish! in which we are going to take you with us on the Ubuntu journey.


Hopefully this campaign will teach us to accept people for who they are, instead of avoiding, judging or hurting them. In an article that Dr Rick Hanson wrote for Psychology Today, he says: “Acceptance is a gift that gives back.”


Indeed. Through acceptance we will come to value the idea of being part of a bigger whole, even if we are not all the same. We might even start valuing the simplicity of merely being human – stripped of the outer differences, trimmed to the basics of flesh and bone and heart. Especially heart.