“An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.”— Martin Luther King, Jr. on diversity

Connecting with others

When is the last time you invited friends to your home who’s culture, lifestyle, skin color, or belief system differed largely from your own? For some, this may happen easily. For others, engaging with those we see as different from ourselves can be challenging. When I think about some of the issues related to the cause of school violence, I repeatedly come back to the idea that while many of us may say we appreciate and celebrate diversity, we are often failing to live out that assertion. Thus, our children and those around us are not seeing healthy examples of tolerance and acceptance of differences. I’m not suggesting we should conform to ideas we disagree with, but I do hope to raise my children in a way that they are able to respectfully communicate with and love people of all beliefs. On a very basic level, we are all human and have many more similarities than differences. This concept seems to be forgotten when we dislike others on the basis of beliefs, race, gender, culture, lifestyle, etc.

Why does diversity matter in relation to school violence?

A lot of violence, school and otherwise, happens due to intolerance and the misunderstanding of others. I believe if we are able to prioritize connections with others who have differing beliefs, it fosters our family’s ability to see value in others as well as gain an appreciation for the richness varying cultures bring to the melting pot of America. We are far less likely to engage in violence against another when we see them as an individual worth knowing and learning about.

How do you live out diversity?

Typically, we are interacting with people daily who have diverse cultures from our own. Think about the people you work with, school friends of your child, someone at the dry cleaner or coffee shop you frequent. Start by saying hello. Ask them about their day. Begin a relationship in the same manner you would with someone of a similar culture to your own. Be willing to take time to get to know someone. We live in a metroplex rich with cultural events. Try one out!

This article is a continuation of my previous blog, School Violence-Bringing Light to a Dark Issue, and part one of a five part series on impacting school violence.

I can help…

My practice began as a reunification therapist, helping parents renew relationships with their children. I then became a school counselor, and now love being in a private practice. Adolescents are one of my favorite age groups to counsel. Call or email with any questions or comments! Our first time consultations are on the phone, 15 minutes and can help you determine your next step. You don’t have to do this alone.

Ashley Barkley, LPC
(940) 222-8703 ext.701

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