It's surprising how many persons go through life without ever recognizing that their feelings toward other people are largely determined by their feelings toward themselves, and if you're not comfortable within yourself, you can't be comfortable with others.
Sydney J Harris
Last night I was watching a programme about Amish teenagers having a visit to the UK. I found it absolutely fascinating. Just how different their lives are to those who live in a world where connection and interaction with others is a normal, everyday occurrence.
It was interesting to see just how accepting they were of each other within their community. There appeared to be no petty jealousies or in-fighting. No violence. Just an acceptance of a peaceful way of life, where everyone is part of a sharing community. Now I’m not saying that, for me, the Amish way of life is perfect as there were a few things and beliefs they have which really jarred with me. However, what really struck me was their acceptance of each other. What was also interesting was how they responded to all the new things in the outside world which completely went against their set of values and beliefs. At first, they appeared to struggle with the idea that people would have children without being married. It was interesting to see them moving to a place of tolerance and acceptance in a relatively short space of time.
Tolerance and acceptance doesn’t necessarily mean you have to agree with what another person does, but that you accept them for who and where they are. It also doesn’t mean you have to endure particular behaviours that you find uncomfortable.
Tolerance and acceptance can also mean you’re able to look past the exterior of the Ego Self and see the beauty of the Soul Self beneath. One of the young boys in the community made quite a poignant statement which really struck me “Just because someone is beautiful on the outside, it doesn’t mean they are on the inside. I look for the beauty beneath”.
In today’s society, it’s very easy to get caught up in the need to be fashionable and “classically good looking”, to focus purely on external image in order to be loved or attract others to us. There is so much pressure to look and dress in particular ways to be accepted. If only we could be more accepting of individual preferences for this kind of thing and, as the young Amish lad said “look for the beauty within”.
I think we’re all guilty at some point in our life of making some kind of judgement about others and the way they look and dress. It’s time we started to let go of this shallow way of valuing and judging others, and begin accepting them more for what’s inside, rather than how they look or dress.
Pay attention over the next few days and notice how often you hear yourself judging on how another person looks (whether in your head or out loud). If/when you find yourself doing it, don’t judge yourself “bad”, just let go of the thought and focus instead on looking for the beauty. Everyone is beautiful. Everyone is perfect. We just have to train ourselves to see it clearly.