I believe that the root of all conflict is"us and them" thinking. Whether gang wars, religious wars, school bullying or just bitchery at the office, it's all based on the idea of irreconcilable differences between us guys and them guys.

(photo found on flickr, taken by Martien@Arnhem)

I believe that it is the work of a lifetime to overcome every trace of this thinking in ourselves. Tolerance means more than overcoming racism or discrimination against age, gender or disability. It means remembering that we are all human first, and that we are each the sum of our individualities. If our little quirks are what make us the people we are, then why do we waste so much energy on resenting the differences between ourselves and others?

We all want to belong. That's human. There is safety in numbers and it does take a village to raise a child. Many of the choices we make on a daily basis are signals about our selves and our tribes. These signals can help us find like-minded people, make new friends or make people feel more comfortable with us. There isn't anything wrong with that unless it interferes with our tolerance or our authenticity.

I've been thinking about this a lot lately. Are my signals in line with my values? Do my insecurities and aspirations interfere with my tolerance of people and my openness to them?