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.