Two quotes from recent posts to the Jack’s Winning Words blog seem to go together –
“Always remember that you are absolutely unique, just like everyone else.” (Margaret Mead)
“Everyone has a story. Every story matters.” (Nicole Wedemeyer Miller)
If everyone is unique and has a story, then it follows that every story is unique. That is one of the values that we all gain from diversity in our society; and, that matters. That we don’t take time to listen to every story or to try to understand the unique perspective from which they come is our loss.
The knee-jerk reaction from #POTUS to the recent terrorist act in New York was to state that he would try to end the Diversity Visa Program that was put in place a few years back by the Obama administration to encourage diversity in migration to the U.S. from underrepresented countries around the world. What a shame it would be to limit our experience of the different contributions to our society that could come out of that program.
The term diversity is a broad umbrella which embraces differences in ethnicity, life style, sexual preference, gender and many other things that can go into making each individual unique. To wall off any one of those things and prevent people who possess that characteristic from interacting with our society would be a loss. That loss comes out of the denial to experience and react to those differences. It is the same as saying that we will only allow certain kinds of music to be played or certain types of art to be displayed. We become the poorer by restrictions limiting or censoring our experiences. In many countries experiencing the truth is limited by government censorship and in some, such as North Korea, reality itself gets distorted.
So, the take-away is that we should embrace diversity in our society and try to learn from the differences that we encounter in the unique people that we meet. We need to substitute wonder and understanding for the fear and loathing that too often drive us away from those who are “different.” We need to approach our interactions with those who are different from us with the goal of learning and understanding, rather than avoiding, judging or condemning.
It may well be that you will find the point of view of someone else to be something that you cannot understand and certainly don’t accept; but, at least, you will then better understand why and how they may act about things. Understanding the other person’s point of view will help you choose the best way to react to them. Perhaps, just by trying to understand them better, you will engage in a dialogue that slightly changes both of you and brings you both closer to some common ground.
It is important when engaging with others who have very different points of view to keep in mind another saying that was posted to Jack’s blog recently –
“I don’t have to be wrong for you to be right.” (Sent by Don Sunshine)
The opposite is also true; that the other person doesn’t have to be wrong, either. It is the tendency to stand on the supposedly high moral ground of saying “I’m right and you’re wrong” that continues to cause many of the problems that we have in our society today. Yes, black lives matter; and yes, all lives matter. So where is the real conflict there? Which side is excluding the other? I don’t have to be wrong for you to be right.
So, let us as a nation continue to welcome unique people and their stories. Let us try to learn from them. Let us find ways to integrate the value that they bring with them to our common good. We are the richer as a nation because we have always welcomed the poor of the world. I can’t wait to hear the next story.