Diversity — The Fabric of Our Individuality

Image Credit: leo-n

“Compassion can be put into practice if one recognizes the fact that every human being is a member of humanity and the human family regardless of differences in religion, culture, color and creed. Deep down there is no difference.”

-Dalai Lama

Diversity can be a tricky thing. Too much inclusion and assimilation, and individual culture and ethnicity begins to fade away. Too little, and people become closed-minded and xenophobic. The balance of diversified ideas, thoughts, and beliefs, within our human society, is a difficult thing to achieve, yet remarkably important. You can’t really argue that a problem isn’t best solved by a team of people with different perspectives than by a team of people of the exact same mindset–and the same should be said about education and society.

I recently read an article from Forbes about how a community in Singapore mandated a quota for ethnic diversity in its neighborhoods. Feel free read the article for the specifics, but ultimately, they found that crime rates decreased (especially ethnically catalyzed crime), the housing market increased as property values rose, and, potentially the most important, the sense of community developed. People of all races, beliefs, and means lived and grew up together–they developed a sense of respect and compassion for one another. Of course, in the same article, it is mentioned that diversity such as this does not occur naturally, and cites some fine examples.

I’ll refer specifically to the U.S., as this is my home, and say that our nation was simultaneously built on ethnic diversity, as well as ethnic oppression. We like to refer to our nation as “the great melting pot”, which, in a way, isn’t entirely inaccurate. I won’t give you a history lesson, but it is no secret that our nation is comprised of whites, of blacks, of latinos, of people of native descent, of asians–people from all over the globe make up the fabric of America. That said, these people are not all “melted” together. In fact, they are largely totally unrepresented in our government. The cities of our great nation were actually built around ethnic and racial oppression. Districts and precincts were developed as a way to keep education and voting rights for African Americans (primarily, though there was no shortage of attention for other minority races) oppressed by way of segregation. In probably the most backward, inopportune way, our nation was built around the notion of our diversity.

Fortunately, we have proven to be a (albeit slowly) progressive nation, and have begun to take actions to necessitate an even playing field and acceptance for people of all backgrounds and ethnicities. We certainly still have a long way to go, especially after some serious backsliding under our recently elected commander-in-chief, but we are getting there. And as we begin to embrace the rich diversity of our world, more and more human successes are being accomplished. Technology and medicine continue to increase exponentially, as we bring in doctors and scholars from around the world to offer new perspectives and problem solving methods to the American table. Friendships and global communities are thriving and continue to be born every day amongst all peoples of the world thanks to common interests we share, and an internet connection.

In this age of technology, where information and communication with people from around the globe are literally resting in the palms of our hands (maybe a little more often than we like to admit, for we Facebook addicts), it is immensely imperative that we learn to acknowledge our differences and embrace and learn from our diversity. If you could, take a moment right and think–I mean actually consider what we could accomplish as humanity if we were less concerned about who has what, and why our gods are better than theirs. These mass tragedies that we see every day wouldn’t plague society as they do. Resources and lives could be saved if we simply regard each other as fellow humans, rather than members of a conflicting faith, or class, or whatever tools you want to use to remain divided. Instead of creating business plans around sickness and disease, we could focus on developing actual cures and effective treatments. I could go on forever, but like I said–I want to inspire thought on your end! In fact, leave a comment below, if you could, and let me know what you think we could accomplish if we weren’t so concerned about what divides us–if we focused instead on what we have in common and what we can learn from each other.

As long winded as this may seem, my point is that diversity affects us daily–though people, inherently, like to avoid things that contrast or contradict their own beliefs and sensibilities, so it may not always be in the best way. The onus is ours as individuals to recognize this as a truth of our humanity, and realize, as the Dalai Lama said, “…every human being is a member of humanity and the human family regardless of differences in religion, culture, color and creed. Deep down there is no difference.” We are all in this together. The way we handle our differences will likely either destroy us and our planet, or bring us together and usher in a golden age of human growth and development.

Thank you for reading! Love and good vibes to you and yours.

The Most Important Job

Fatherhood was never something I really aspired to. When thinking of my future, trying to imagine my successes ten years down the line, being a parent was not among them. Like everybody, I have a lot of my own faults–I’ve always been fairly impulsive, impatient, and, though I hate to say it, a little selfish. Not selfish like unwilling to share my toys on the playground growing up, but selfish in that I never wanted to devote my time to raising another person. I was always the kind of man who would prefer to have my own experiences in life (of course, sharing them with my wife was never a problem, as we can do things together) instead of effectively putting everything on hold for eighteen years. I was wrong.

As cliché as this is going to sound, having my son has changed my mind and my life. As many great days as I’ve had in my life, most all of them pale in comparison to the memories of my son being born. Or of his first babbles, or steps, or the first time the weather was warm enough for us to play outside together. When I think, now, of how my life will be ten years down the road, it’s measured by how old my son will be, and what kind of little person my wife and I will have raised.

Don’t get me wrong–it’s certainly not all sunshine and playtime. Raising a child is hard. Especially your first, and when they’re pushing one and a half. He is an absolute handful, and a nightmare when he’s tired, and remember that impatience I mentioned? It doesn’t combine well with a moody child. Still, I’m getting better. In this, he’s helped me identify a lot of my faults, and gives me a perspective by which I can work on them. Ultimately, the good outweighs the bad tenfold, and I can no longer even imagine life without him. Furthermore, I look forward to watching him learn and grow every day.

I believe one of the best things you can do for this world (if children are in your plans) is raise an intelligent, thoughtful, empathetic person to carry on humanity’s legacy in the best way possible. Too many people, I think, breed their personal misgivings and prejudices into their children, and this is a colossal disservice to not only them, but society as a whole. The world, as it is, has enough of that to distract us from caring for each other! I may not be the best person to be a father, but I am confident that my son will be genuinely good person, and cannot wait to see the person he will become–and if that’s not your mindset as a parent, I think you should reconsider your priorities.

I still have a long way to go as far as personal growth and learning how to actually ‘parent’, but that’s something I think will come with time, and I’m really interested to see how we all grow together–my son, my wife, and myself–as a family.

Love and good vibes to you and your family, and thank you for reading!

Imagining Earth

Yesterday, another human tragedy occurred in London. If you haven’t heard, a domestic terrorist drove a vehicle into the sidewalk of Westminster Bridge and took the lives of several people, injuring multiple more. I’ve lived for nearly three decades now. I’ve traversed a few parts of the globe. I’ve served in the U.S. military. Point is, I’ve seen a lot of awful things, and yet I’m still devastated every time I hear or read about something like this, and I often find myself wondering why we, as humans, continue to do these things to each other. Why are we so ready to devote our lives and our spirits to something that we’re willing to destroy those of others?

More and more as I get older, the song “Imagine” by John Lennon starts to resonate with me–especially when events like this occur. Like, truly imagine if there were no religion–no driving, desperate belief in an afterlife worthy of such heinous acts. That there were no countries–no divisive borders to rend us further apart than the arbitrary reasons we already contrive. And no possessions… Now I know I’m about to sound like a socialist, which I suppose I am partly, but I honestly believe that greed and covetousness are the single most driving force behind corruption and mistreatment of other people. Don’t get me wrong, I love my car, my computer, and my things just as much as the next guy, but items should not be so difficult to obtain. Things should not be indicative of social status (which, again, I’m not a fan of either).

Okay, tangent over. To be clear, this post isn’t mean to be some sort of testament to how profound I am. It’s not meant to be motivational, inspirational, or confrontational. If anything, it’s simply a way for me to get some thoughts out of my mind so I can move on with my day–to remind myself (and anyone else that happens to come across my little corner of the internet) that, despite the terrible things that happen in this world, things aren’t all bad. There are still dreamers in the world. There are still people, like myself, who have hope that someday we can move beyond these things that cause us to hate, to harm, and to covet each other.

In this world that we live in, I often have to remind myself that there is, of course, goodness, as well. There is beauty in humanity–there is compassion, there is empathy, and there is good. And maybe I’m an optimist, but I also like to believe that it outweighs the bad.

I hope. Love and good vibes to you all–have a great day!

Get wet! Make a change this World Water Day

Today is World Water Day. What does that mean? Basically, it’s a day in which we, as a global society, need to stop and think about each other.

There are billions of people around the world without access to potable water. Drinking unsafe water can lead to disease and famine, and it is such an important resource for us as humans. Water is quite literally the lifeblood of our planet, and there is NO reason anyone on this planet should be without it. It is within our power, and arguably, it is our responsibility to each other to ensure we all have reasonable access.

Honestly, even in our own backyards, there are people without access to safe water. I’m from the Detroit, Michigan area and I know we’ve all heard about the Flint water crisis. What you probably don’t know, is that it’s still going on–and Flint is not the only place in the US affected by unsafe drinking water. Of course, this pales in comparison to many undeveloped countries around the world, but I need you to be able to relate. People around the world are thirsty. They are getting sick. Their children are dying, and it is preventable. We owe it to each other to allow access to safe, drinkable water.

But what can we do as individuals?

This is a fair question. We’re all of us not politicians–we don’t have the power to make changes in our respective nations’ policies to help other places around the world. We can’t afford to make a Cost Co run and buy water in bulk to distribute (unless you can, in which… maybe consider doing it!) to our communities in need. Regardless, there are some good things we can do to help.
  •  Learn something new about water usage and distribution!

There are a lot of things we may not know about water, and how we use it. The World Water Day Campaign site offers a lot of information about what you can do to help reduce your waste, and what steps are being taken around the world to bring potable water to those who need it.

  • Donate to the cause!

There are countless charities that you can donate your money to with a few simple clicks, and be confident that your dollars are being put toward the cause. One such is Charity: Water, which uses 100% of donations to put toward projects around the globe to bring safe water to people in need. UNICEF also runs a campaign in which 90% of every dollar donated goes toward providing safe water to children. There are, of course, others as well! Just make sure you do your research if you’re considering donating, to be sure your money is truly going to the cause.

  • SHARE!

We’re social creatures. We spend all day on our phones, perusing Facebook and Twitter, or whatever your social media platform of choice is, and they make it so easy to share. Take a few seconds out of your day and share this article, a different article, some links for donating. I don’t care, just raise awareness! The more people that see World Water Day mentioned, the more that are going to be thinking about it, and the more can actually be done!  Remember, at the end of the day, national policy is dictated by the people, and we CAN make the change!

Ultimately, we are all human. In that, we are all family. We all deserve access to safe water, and there are things we can do to help each other–big or small! So I’m urging you now: please do something today to, at the very least, raise awareness and get people thinking. We can make changes alone, but together, we are an unstoppable force. If only for today, be the spearhead of that force and do something good for your people. Thank you! Love and good vibes to you today, and all days to come.

Coming Soon…

My name is Ian. I’m a United States citizen, husband, father, gamer, thinker and dreamer in my late 20’s. I believe that our world, in its current state, absolutely needs a sort of renaissance. Our global society is too partisan, too segregated, and too consumed with greed and patriotism. I believe we, as individuals, are the best arbiters of change to make this world a more habitable place for all of us, not just those of us fortunate enough to be born into developed countries, a rich family, or of the ‘right’ race.

I believe that through sharing our ideas, our beliefs, our art and our dreams, we can better sculpt our world into something genuinely good. I’ll get more in-depth as I post, but these are my general beliefs.

I want to build a community through this blog with the purpose of sharing those things with each other, and ways to make the world, or even a small part of our lives more enriched.

Together, we can evolve our world.