Any time I’d take my daughter out: to a park, a trampoline park, the library, you name it; there’s one question I’d hear: “Are my friends here?” It didn’t matter that she likely didn’t know a soul there, she just wanted to know if there were kids to play with. Any kids. And once we there, it would take her all of two seconds to walk in and start chatting people up or playing, as if she’d known them for years.
You know what she never asked about or commented on? Why those “friends” or her classmates or strangers in public are different colours, why some speak different languages, or why some of her friends at school had two moms or dads instead of one of each.
True, it’s likely youthful innocence at work. I wish it would have stayed that way forever. Really, I wish we could all readopt the view that everyone is our friend and that it’s how they “play” that matters.
Because it is. And, while in the adult perspective, we know that this world is a muddy place with far more politics and potential ramifications for peoples’ actions that we’d like to admit, if we can remove ourselves from the news cycle and global political climate, we are likely to find ourselves much happier, better people.
When we take a step back to focus on who people are on the inside, rather than the outside—and when we remember that it isn’t our place or job to judge—we become better, more content, more just versions of ourselves.
Cultures are certainly something to be appreciated and traditions something to honour, but in most daily encounters, none of that should actually have any impact on our interactions. Someone may have a different background from you or a different religion or sexuality —and that’s OK; it isn’t your job to change it or comment on it or even to understand it. Your job is to show respect and be a model of acceptance and positivity.
Lets teach our children that everyone deserves respect. That skin colour, religion, sexuality and belief have no weight on an individual’s ability to perform. That we’re all in this together and that we can accomplish far more by being part of the team than acting alone or out of fear.
Yes, there are bad people in the world. Yes, bad things have and will happen. But it is not our place to pre-judge or act out against specific groups because of it.
At PCT, the acceptance of others and the absence of personal judgement is paramount to maintaining our positive, loving environment and to the development and success of every one of our athletes.
Our children are watching and listening to everything we do and say. In the gym, on the ride home, as you converse with friends and spouses… your words, actions and reactions matter.
So take care to teach through the words you share and the actions you take.
Teach them in hopes that they’ll walk into rooms of friends and find the open friendship reciprocated for all their lives.
Natalie Vonlanthen is the owner of PCT Cheer and Tumble. She has a penchant for long walks.