Being Different is NORMAL!

Olga Kudriavtseva's picture
Being Different is NORMAL!

In London people differ by race, religion, cultural habits and even dress preferences, but it seems they all feel comfortable living together in this big city.
To be honest, I hesitate as to whether the Brits consider new entrants as their peers, probably some even hate the international flow into their country, but they never seem to show their annoyance, seemingly tolerant to every single nation that finds their harbour on this island.
In Russia, the word “tolerance” came into use in the 2000s. Maybe it was used before, but at the beginning of the new century, we all went crazy, using it left, right and centre. The word itself isn’t the point, but it seems to me when it appeared in the vocabulary of the average citizen, only than did they start thinking about its meaning.
Today we have made a certain progress towards respecting the differences. We are open to multicultural communication, welcome foreigners to our countries and travel abroad for international experience. But if we talk about tolerance inside our own society, we still live looking backwards at our neighbours and judging those who vary.
For fairness’ sake in capitals and big cities people are more tolerant (or maybe indifferent) to other peoples way of life; however in small towns the Soviet idea of identity is still alive.
On the state level, freedom of speech, plain civil position and obvious dissatisfaction are never welcome. The sheep must follow its shepherd.
Nevertheless, there was, are and always will be citizens with a strong civil position, who are not afraid to be who they are, no matter whether you are tolerant towards their choice or not.

In the end, I want to tell you a personal story. When at the age of 15, I coloured my hair violet and started expressing my thoughts out loud, the school director wanted to exclude me, despite having A grades. The long “instructive” conversation with me came down to one conclusion that I need to dress, live and think like the majority do. I will never forget the phrase “and what would people think?” At that time I strongly endured public opinion, fought with it at times, gave up at others. At the age of 19, I moved to the country, where no one judged the way I dressed nor what I said - probably because no one really cared.
So I hope that tolerance here is more than just a word.