Open Minds: Learning Acceptance Through StoryI’m so excited to have Casia Shreyer writing for the blog about acceptance, tolerance, and her forthcoming anthology (and the importance of stories giving us paths to acceptance). Enjoy!

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Acceptance is a lifestyle.

Acceptance was the way my parents lived. Sexual orientation, gender, race, religion, culture, creed, political leanings – they didn’t care about any of that. Racial slurs were non-existent in my house. We owned a business and while we had some real jerk customers, they seemed to pop up in all skin colors, genders, and ages. Working retail I learned there are bad apples in every bushel but most of them are good.

Perhaps because of this start, and because honest dialogue was encouraged in our home, I grew up aware of differences but accepting of them. I bristled against the sexist, racist, encounters of my youth. All this set me on a path to advocacy and in my writing I always strive to be honest, compassionate, and respectful.

Open Minds Anthology – A Path to Acceptance

Open Minds started as a story called “All Mixed Up”– a story about a teenage girl whose parents have been kidnapped and her quest to get them back. I was grappling with all sorts of social issues when I started writing this story: racism, gender inequality, sexual violence, rape culture, and Trump’s election victory. Though Canadian, our country has its own problems in these areas (Trump aside, though there are different issues currently with our PM). Still, the problems of our southern neighbors were shouted across social media so loudly that it has become impossible to ignore, impossible not to be involved. And history has shown that Canada has a tendency to follow the American political, cultural, and consumer climates.

This story, a story that ended up dealing with race, gender, and sexual violence all at once, inspired me to create an anthology on acceptance and tolerance.

This was a difficult theme. We were asking people to examine some very deep, personal, and difficult issues with their writing – and we were not disappointed. Open Minds doesn’t hit shelves until June 1st and already this anthology has taught me so much.

Open Minds Anthology Cover ArtLessons on Tolerance and Acceptance

It taught me there is a time and place for standing up, marching, and showing strength in numbers. There is a time for coming together quietly to comfort each other and plan for the future. There is a time to defend, to protect at all costs, and a time when fighting is really nothing more than retaliation. It taught me that fear is the greatest enemy, the most basic opposite of tolerance and acceptance.

This anthology taught me security and acceptance sometimes comes at odd times and from unexpected places. Sometimes security and acceptance really can come at the hands of those closest to us, those we are afraid to share with, those whose judgments and rejection we fear the most.

It taught me that you can let go of anger and hatred without having to forgive those who hurt you, that we have a right not to forgive, we have a right to remember and forget, hold on and let go, as we choose. It has taught me that defenders come in all shapes and sizes.

And I learned that sometimes controversy is the best conversation starter.

This is what makes these stories, and stories like them, so important. These stories teach us so much about ourselves and about other people.

Knowing the Difference

That learning can open the doors of empathy and lead us on a path to tolerance and acceptance – because though we talk about these things together most of the time, they are different. Tolerance is simply to allow the existence, occurrence, or practice of something, whether one likes or agrees with it, without interference. Acceptance comes when we believe or recognize something as having value, as being valid or correct. Both are necessary in our world if we are to hold onto our religious and culture freedoms, and both stem from understanding, knowledge, self-security, and empathy.

A Sense of Hope

Many times I find myself full of fear, for myself, for my children, for people I have never met but feel a strange kinship to, but there are many things out there that fill me with hope too. The people coming together, to support each other, to show love and acceptance and trust and tolerance. Women’s Marches, Pride Parades, rallies and vigils, stories shared in comment sections of women pretending to be sisters and long-lost friends so they can protect each other. These six stories in Open Minds, these are stories of hope, of inspiration, of tolerance and acceptance, of controversy and conversation, and of ownership and autonomy.

It’s my greatest fear as I send this collection out into a world that so desperately needs to hear what these authors have to say is that I will end up preaching to the choir.

My greatest hope is this book will reach someone standing on the brink, torn between hatred and hope, and it will convince them we can accept, protect, and support each other, all without giving up our own beliefs and identities.

About the Author

Casia Schreyer is a work from home mom from rural Manitoba. She started Schreyer Ink Publishing in 2014. Open Minds is the first of 4 anthologies Schreyer Ink will publish in 2017. When she’s not writing or reading submissions she reads indie novels for her review site, works as a freelance editor, and indulges in yarn crafts while binge watching her favorite TV shows.

On June 1st, check out the Open Minds virtual launch event here.

Also read an interview with Casia about her other work here.

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Stories can help with acceptance, but sometimes you need more. For more, contact me here!



Open Minds: Learning Acceptance Through Story
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