“I do not see color, or culture, or any sort of difference about anyone because that leads to discrimination; everyone is the same anyways.”
My ears picked up on this conversation right before a crowded organic chemistry lecture. Why students in the organic chemistry section ended up discussing deep ethics, embedded within the complexities of social diversity, is beyond me. Yet, this sentence lingered in my mind, and for longer than I would have anticipated. I wanted to stop the professor from speaking about aldehydes, and turn everyone’s attention to the sentence I’d heard. I had not seen the person who voiced this opinion; it was a faceless opinion. Yet the urge to address this mentality festered in my whole self, until I was able to let it cook for a while before writing about it.
Do not get me wrong. I am a supporter of equality, and an activist when it comes to human’s rights. If there is injustice or discrimination anywhere on this Earth, it eats away at my core until I let people know about it and can take action-based steps. However, equality does not equate to the sameness of all people. Ideally, it would be great if the human race believed in one set of morals, with one culture, and everyone was the same; or if no one saw the differences between each culture, race, religion, gender, etc.
Except, hold on a second: this would actually be agonizingly boring! This is the human race, and with it comes the complexities of identity and diversity.
According to the Merriam Webster dictionary, diversity has two definitions. One is “the quality or state of having many different forms, types, ideas, etc.” The second is “the state of having people who are different races or who have different cultures in a group or organization.” Both definitions let us reach the conclusion that people are different. Depending on your location in the world, everything changes, from architecture to communities to family ideals. Every single meticulous detail that comes with living as a human being depends on the community that surrounds you, the culture you are brought up with; your heritage, your gender, and many other things. So based on these two definitions, you might be asking: why am I so hung up on a statement made by a stranger in a public university in the ripe hours of the morning?
Well, to put it simply, diversity is important. Having the ability to see the differences between cultures, races, genders, religions, etc., provides a new perspective to one’s perception of humanity’s complexities. In addition to a broadened perspective, the ability to understand differences also results in the ability to sympathize with people that are inside and outside of your local community. (Also, diversity means different cultures which results in variations of different and wonderfully tasty foods from many origins – Yum!)
All of the positive correlations that come with diversity rely on one important aspect that needs to be implemented in daily life (both private and public) to produce a functioning society. That is acceptance. We must embrace our identities while also accepting difference. Without the acceptance of diversity, its positive results diminish, and we are left with prejudice, which can lead to discrimination and injustice, especially when the wrong people are given the right amount of power.
I could provide a scientific rant to support my claim. Science has already shown that diversity is the best option for survival. However, not everyone is a scientist, and not everyone wants to learn about science. That is why all it takes to realize the importance of diversity is a daydreaming session. Let us start this daydreaming session; stop anything else you might be doing and read closely.
Imagine yourself, with all of your flaws, and everything you believe in, with all of the information stored in your brain. Now imagine every single individual on this earth, all 7.125 billion people, replaced by you. Everyone is you, and you are everyone; therefore, everyone is the same, and you are blatantly blind to any sort of difference, because it does not exist. Nobody objects to anybody because everyone agrees on the same things. Everyone is equal and the same. Yes, you are right! You have just pictured a nightmare, or a perfectly bland horror film.
As an ode to the stranger in my organic chemistry lecture, I encourage each person reading this essay to put on your high-definition color goggles and view the world with all of its ethnicities, cultures, genders, religions, and other differences. Through chaotic diversity, keep your heart open to acceptance. Agree to disagree with people and smile at the fact that their brain is sewn in a different pattern than your own. As a result of this widened perspective of a colorful world, you will see more similarities than differences.
After all, Rumi always put it best: “Christian, Jew, Muslim, shaman, Zoroastrian, stone, ground, mountain, river, each has a secret way of being with the mystery, unique and not to be judged.”