Do you ever notice that notice that who look like each other are often friends with each other? No matter where you go Aclose friends will often times have similar occupation, world views, social class, and maybe even dress like each other.
I understand why people do this. We find comfort in spending time with others who are just like us. We relate to each other. This is great. I don’t have many close friends but those friends that I do have act just like me. As much as I love spending time with others who have similar views on things as religion, ethics, and politics, I can’t do that all the time.
In my journey of self educating myself, I have noticed some pattern`s between people who always had the same friends who were just like them. The danger that lies in having friends that are not diversified that too often occurs called stereotypes.
STEREOTYPES ARE DANGEROUS! Often times stereotypes are far different then what they appear to be. One example, out of many examples that I have of how a stereotype was rebuked for me, was when I was very young. Now my parents sheltered me to a degree. They didn’t shelter me as in trying to not expose me to the “evils of the world” but they sheltered me by not always telling me what the typical stereotype of how the world sees certain groups of people. When I was very young, I was lucky to serve others who had disbilities. Through that I quickly learned that those with disabilities are not any less of a person because their body works differently than mine. By having the opportunity to serve those different than me it really has changed my perception on stereotypes.
I argue that if you don’t expose yourself to those in different cultures you will have more biases towards others. Building relationships with the weird, lost, broken, and different will give you a deeper love for others. In the book of Matthew it says that the greatest commandment of all is to love the Lord and the second is to love others. If you are doing well with the first one, you most certainly will be succeeding at the second one. God doesn’t put limits on who to love. He just says to love others. By building relationships and serving everyone, you will be following exactly what His law says.
You may be thinking “this is great, but how do I find diversified people?” The answer to this is easy — just look around! Become involved in your community and get to know others. Go to coffee shops and at about any coffee shop there’s going to be a cork board advertising different cultural events in your community, read the newspaper and be on the look out for upcoming events and classes, volunteer at places you wouldn’t normally go, ask everyone what their stories are, and anywhere you are ask questions.
If done in a biblical way, the Kingdom will be expanded and you will become a more well rounded person. Don’t think of new friends by labeling them as the world labels them. Think of them as being a child of God whom you can minister to, and most importantly be a light to others in a world of utter darkness.