I am sometimes afraid of writing about diversity and my thoughts about teaching the topic to my kids. I do not want to offend anyone, but I know it is easy to do. Still, it is often on my mind, because I live in a world of many views and many experiences, and I want them to find peace. So, here is what is rattling around in my brain lately.
Growing up, I lived in a racially and economically diverse city and went to a school that was committed to expanding our worldviews. I thought that the color of a person’s skin and the amount of money he or she made were the diversity issues of our lifetime. I had a hard time then understanding why we thought differently of one another. And while we knew people who were gay, and talked about it, I do not remember anyone articulating it as a diversity issue. Now, it appears to be the equal rights issue of my adulthood.
But as I talk to people about all the different ways they define diversity and what it means to them, I realize that the real issue is diversity of political views, religious views, philosophies. Neighbors who look alike, talk alike and live in the same socio-economic stratosphere are not the same inside.
Our paths of our brains formed differently. Our backgrounds. Our religious beliefs. Our political fervor. Our passions.
And that is probably a good thing for humanity. Still, diversity of belief systems is, for many, the only challenging thing to embrace. The final frontier of acceptance.
Think of the last time you got in a fight with your friend over Romney-Obama or gun control or gay marriage or abortion or capital punishment. Think of the acidic taste in your mouth as you tried to convince them of your way of thinking. Remember how you couldn’t fall asleep that night because you were coming up with all the things you should have said that might have convinced them to change their entire set of values.
And remember driving down the street and seeing that your neighbors put up a sign in their yard for “the other side.” Remember how your brain went right to “are they idiots?”
It seems to me that until we get over our insistence that everyone think like us, we will have diversity issues that tear our communities apart. Because those are things that are at our core, our soul. How we think and to whom we pray. We will defend those like nothing else. The trappings – our color, how much we make, what language we speak, how we dress, who we marry – will seem like long-forgotten tensions when we get over wanting desperately for us all to be exactly the same on the inside.
That’s hard. But it’s important that we are accepting of each other inside and out.