When did we become a society that only appreciates things that are similar to what we are used to? When did we become a society that only likes things in a particular way that even if presented with something new we refuse it and do not give it a chance simply because we are not used to it? When did we become a society that rejects anything just because we do not understand it? When did we become a society that does not give others a chance and jumps on the bandwagon to criticize and be vulgar or disrespectful in our objections or expressions just to get our point of view across? Sorry for proposing so many questions, but I am sure at least one of these must have crossed your mind at one point or another.
What happened to being open, to listening to the viewpoints of others? What happened to giving things a chance before we judge them? We all know the popular saying “Do not judge a book by its cover,” but it looks like people are still not convinced by it and continue to judge things or people at face value and forget that there is usually more depth to people or stories than meets the eye.
From my own personal experience, there are always two sides to every story: What actually happened and what others think or remember happened. I once read a saying that I truly like and completely agree with: “Beware of the half-truth. You may have gotten hold of the wrong half.”
We all know we are not created equal, so why should we judge or compare our friends, colleagues, classmates or even our own kids when we know that we all have qualities that others may lack and vice versa?
Humans are complicated creatures that come in different sizes and shapes. Until we accept that we are all different, which is considered a positive thing, we will continue to compare and judge others by our own standards or beliefs. I believe that this will set us back in any relationship we enter.
Recently, a well-known Saudi artist exhibited some of her work in Jeddah. She used rundown vehicles that were due to be scrapped and transformed them into art by painting them in an abstract style with vibrant colors, to be exhibited in the city.
As I see it, the project was showing how you can recycle items to be used for a different purpose than what they were bound for. A concept that I found to be unique in saving scrapped items and reusing them and making them pieces of art.
Who says that a plain banana stuck on a wall with duct tape is not art? Like it or not, this banana was sourced from a Miami supermarket, put on a wall and sold for a cool $120,000 at Art Basel Miami Beach.
According to the artist, every aspect of the work was considered, from the shape of the fruit to the angle it was attached. To me, art is in the eye of the beholder. So what I consider to be art, others might consider it food or junk. You know what? That is okay. We do not have to agree. That is art!
Why am I sharing this piece of information you might ask? Well, for one, some of the people that passed by the artwork in Jeddah did not like the painted vehicles, which is completely up to them as it might have not been their cup of tea, as the Brits say. But to go to the extent of being very vulgar, disrespectful and bullying the artist on Twitter and other social media platforms is incomprehensible to me.
We are all free to like or dislike, but when did we become a society that takes pleasure in bashing or bullying people just because we do not like what they are offering, especially since it did not affect anything in terms of religion, human rights or even safety and wellbeing?
It is a shame to bash or bully just because we did not get the idea behind it or we did not like something.
What happened to understanding that we are all human and our beauty lies in our differences? Can you imagine a world where we all like the exact same things, eat the same food, drive the same car, buy the same clothes, and even love the same style of art? Would not this be a boring life? Are not our differences what make us so unique?
I am sorry to have proposed so many questions in this article, but I truly think that we need to see or hear all these questions being raised in order to start practicing the art of embracing our differences.
Dr. Taghreed Al-Saraj is a best-selling Saudi author, an international public speaker and an entrepreneurship mentor.