Blog with Joel Brookman


I spent the past week on a business trip in London. While I was there I noticed something amongst my British colleagues. They have an openness and respect for other cultures the likes of which I rarely see at home. When I look around to other parts of the world and even here in the U.S., I can’t help but notice the simple–mindedness and intolerance of so many people. It can be witnessed through their refusal to accept others simply because they have differing beliefs, skin color, or lifestyles.

No child is born intolerant or racist. It is a learned behavior that is a direct result of upbringing. It is nurture, not nature. When I look at people who are open and accepting of differing lifestyles, I believe there are some commonalities in how they live life.


The most fundamental way to fight intolerance is through education. The vast majority of racist people I’ve met or read about are ignorant. Their ignorance can be a result of poor education. Since education starts at home, parents become the strongest perpetuators of intolerance. In some cases teachers can influence students to move beyond the simple-mindedness of their parents. As a general observation, I would suggest the more educated the group is the more tolerant they are of cultural differences.


In high school we often have rivalries with other schools. These rivalries cause us to dislike people simply because they attend the competing school. What happens when you meet those people in a different context. If five years post high school you bump into a person from that competitive school while on vacation in another part of the world, you might come to find that you really like the person. In the end, the only point of animosity was the fact that they attended a different school. Had you both been in the same school you may have been good friends all along. Your exposure to this person once you’ve moved beyond prejudgment, allows you to see him as the great person he is.


When you see a small group of people in your environment that do things differently from you and the majority of those around you, you might pass judgment on them. Maybe they wear strange clothes or eat weird foods. When you travel and end up in their country where everyone has similar cultural norms, you become the minority. Now others can be passing judgment on you for your clothing, food choices, and beliefs. This experience gives you a different perspective and allows you to better experience the world through their eyes. My colleagues in the U.K. were extremely well-travelled. They’ve had many opportunities to experience different cultures. This experience has led them to become open to cultural differences. In the end, they become more tolerant.


What makes your way of life the right way or the best way? Are there not certain advantages in other cultures? The diets followed by the Mediterranean’s and the Japanese are being researched because of their potential to prolong human life. When we compare their lifestyle to the convenience food culture that exists in the United States, it’s easy to see their benefits. An open mind allows you to see the best in people. It moves you away from a place of judgment to one of acceptance. As you do, you begin to see the best in people. Preconception and intolerance fall away.

If you have the privilege to work, live, or be educated with a diverse group of people, you have the opportunity to see them as they are. They are people just like you. You may even realize that there are more commonalities than differences. Strive to move beyond your comfort zone by engaging with people different from you, experience new cultures and contemplate differing ideas. As you begin to see the world through the eyes of others, not only will your intolerance fall away, you will succeed in enhancing your life experience.

Posted by Joel Brookman in accept what is, judgement, Respect People, tolerance and tagged .


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