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Apr
03

Celebrating Diversity: Of Peacocks and Penguins

By

Diversity is the one true thing we all have in common. Celebrate it every day

The face of the earth is changing, and along with it the citizens of its countries. With the world becoming increasingly smaller, this has made international travel not only possible but very highly probable, and in fact there are greater numbers of migrants today than there ever were in the past.

With the advent of technology that connects opposite ends of the globe in seconds, the traditional barriers of language and distance have disappeared with teleportation and hand held translators. The world is finally discovering the wonders of diversity and embracing it.

Yet diversity is not just that of mixed races. It is a long standing challenge of immature communities and corporations, much like a pre-teen school group which will not let a fellow student in to their clique, if they don’t fit into their cultural self image. It is time we not only embraced, but celebrated diversity!

We all should know that diversity makes for a rich tapestry, and we must understand that all the threads of the tapestry are equal in value no matter what their colour. – Maya Angelou

In the world of yore, people often felt separated from people who looked different or thought differently. Some shied away from contact with them, assuming that no good would come from absorbing new ideas that might disturb their status quo. There were some who viewed them with compassion and even admiration. After all, were they not the courageous  ones who had braved adversity to be here?

In schools, groups of giggling girls or young tough boys would exclude the one hapless individual from their inner circle of friends just because they were different- nerdy instead of being fashionable or sporty, plain instead of being smart , goodlooking or cool, quiet instead of being loud and effervescent.

Their excuse is that they are young, and often do not understand why the world not only needs diversity, it thrives on the  richness of ideas that being different from each other inevitably gives rise to. There is nothing to be feared from people who look different from us, speak funny and think radical thoughts.

There is no  excuse however, for  mature social communities and corporations who are not only guilty of racial bias and non acceptance, but who are sinking into a festering stagnation of inbred ideas that are past due their prime. And I don’t speak of ethnic diversity but also a non- acceptance of people of different ages, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, religious beliefs, political views and philosophies.

The workplace today is the modern equivalent of the village well of ancient times. It is where people gathered for practical reasons, to fill water for their households, but also to catch up on the news and latest gossip. Now we gather together to earn a living, but in the process get to meet a large number of people who are completely different  than we are. What a wonderful opportunity to learn about how others think and live!

The Internet and the rise of Social Media and other forums  has become an even larger and significant inclusion tool – since everyone does not have a face to represent a physical manifestation of their diversity, yet what they have to say gets heard.

As a result , hundreds of people are now benefiting from voices with different opinions, positions and a host of stimulating arguments. The internet has made us invisible, and yet has given us a place to let our voices be heard! Effectively turning on its head, the traditional saying that good , civilized, well brought up children should be seen and not heard!

The more we listen, explore and learn from these differences in a safe , postive and nurturing workplace environment, the more quickly we will move beyond simple acceptance and tolerance of each other to embracing and celebrating the  rich dimensions of diversity within each individual.

The very essence of diversity carries within it the seeds of acceptance and respect which causes us to mature as a society. It encourages us to accept and understand that each individual is unique,  has the right to differences in outlook and viewpoints, and that by absorbing all these differences into the melting pot of cultural flavours, we can cook up a fragrant pot pourri that will freshen up the workplace.

To explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no one has gone before- Star Trek Mission Statement.

As a child my parents took care that we grew up in a community where every religion was represented, so that we would learn to love and accept our friends as children and grow up to be adults of compassion and tolerance.

Today, we are opening up our intellect and hearts to people who are diverse in intellect, skills, talents, character and culture.  Being a non- Jew but a fellow human being, I am entranced by the way they celebrate their traditions and  feasts, listen avidly to the war time stories of older generations who were a part of long forgotten historical wars, eat the foods of exotic places in summer street fairs, and belly dance with the movers and shakers of Salome’s ilk.

In so doing, we learn to be not just one with the human experience, but  one with history and the unseen future. Clearly, embracing diversity benefits both end of the equation. After all, isn’t it true that the more the things are different, the more they stay the same?

How have you embraced diversity?

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Categories : Natural Genius

Comments

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