10 Ways Diversity Improves Our Lives
Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Jan 22, 2014
It’s two days after the United States celebrated Martin Luther King Jr day, and yet a lot of what I saw wasn’t celebratory at all. There seemed to be a lot more hate than I could stomach online, from Sarah Palin (who probably doesn’t realize her hate anymore) to what was being said about Richard Sherman, the cornerback of the Seattle Seahawks (who I’d never heard of until I started seeing some of the hateful, racist tweets), to there being actual physical proof of what one side of Syria did to its detractors, to having a young woman finally “out” a teacher who molested her when she was a child to reading about just how much the Chicago diocese protected priests it knew were molesting children over many years over multiple parishes… on and on.
Ugh. Frankly, my last straw was reading a news story on my local newspapers website about a fraternity at Arizona State University having a racist get together, them not understanding why it was racist (come on, watermelon cups?), then reading the comments (I need to learn not to read comments on news stories) that were not only racist themselves (the point where an editor actually posted something talking about the worst ones that had to be removed; you should see what was left) but proved that so many in this country still don’t know why things are racist or misogynist or homophobic or… you pick your term.
That’s why I felt it was time to address diversity once again and, believe it or not, the positives that can be achieved by more people and more companies and more societies deciding that instead of pushing hate motives to instead look at how we can come together, learn from each other, be inclusive, and grow as a world, not just a society. And I’m not just talking about race; diversity is a much bigger issue than just race. Let’s see who’s with me:
Reduce hate – I had to start with this because truthfully, when I see or read about acts against someone because of what they are and not who they are, I get mad and I flare up hate, before being able to put that genie back in the bottle. It becomes harder to hate when we know more about each other and, in my mind, if there were fewer people hating on others there wouldn’t be a need for so many people to hide behind fake names online.
More options for good ideas – This first line is going to be controversial but in my mind the United States is the greatest country in the world, and not just because I live here. It’s because, no matter how many people don’t want to admit it or consider it, it’s the most diverse country in the world, and thus has come up with more ideas in history than any other country.
Many may not want to acknowledge the ideas and creations that came about by people of different races, different sexes, different countries, different ages, disabilities… pick your poison, but without diversity and the willingness (sometimes) to listen to someone who’s not like you and then find out that they were right and things are great… priceless!
Better understanding of folks not like you – As a military kid who lived in a lot of places, I got a pretty good understanding of people in other countries and different economic and religious backgrounds. What I lacked was having the opportunity to learn about and understand anything about disabled people until I joined the board of Arise.
You know what? I learned that not only are they just like everyone else, but many are much stronger because they have a drive and a belief in living for the moment and trying to better their lives than many people who seemingly have advantages they were born into. The more people not like you that you get to meet, the more rounded and accepting of everyone you become.
Generation gaps are closed – At some point every generation complains about the others. Baby boomers think millennials are spoiled and lack a sense of work ethic, millennials think baby boomers believe the world belongs to them and that they won’t get a chance to prove themselves until baby boomers are gone. The same happens for every other generation about each other.
Yet, when we have a real opportunity to sit down and talk with each other we find that the stories of each are fascinating, the ideas of each can be illuminating, and that there are some young people who are conservative in their living and some older people who are ready to take chances and that, when all is said and done, we really can learn from and work with each other quite well.
We’re willing to see the world through someone else’s experiences – When I was younger, there weren’t a lot of people with tattoos other than military vets and bikers. lol These days I see many young people, some very good looking, with all sorts of tattoos. For many who don’t have tattoos, they find this disturbing and off-putting. For me, I’ve had the opportunity to meet a lot of these people via local art shows at tattoo parlors and, me being me, talking to them about their tattoos, why they got them, how they view them, etc. Maybe I just love stories but once you break down barriers you might have of some type, people are people, and they can be pretty fascinating (while acknowledging that some of them can still be jerks, just like anyone else lol).
We become more protective of each other – I met my first gay person my sophomore year in college and even when I learned what it meant, I didn’t care. That was back in 1978, and it seems like it’s taken forever for the majority of people to finally have come around to the belief that people are people and deserve to be treated fairly, even equally, and never has it become more clear than the overall acceptance of gay marriage.
What’s funny is seeing how many people who aren’t gay coming to the defense of someone who’s being treated badly because they are gay and how society has become more willing to accept gay people acting however they want to act while realizing that not all gay people act like their perception of gay. It’s not perfect but it’s getting better.
Breaking down barriers becomes everyone’s business – Something I’ve always disapproved of are our country’s relationships with countries that promote sexist attitudes. I guess politics are politics, but what’s refreshing is seeing how people are becoming more united against policies that try to subjugate women all around the world.
We hear of more riots against countries whose laws say that women who are assaulted are to blame for men’s weaknesses and horrible actions and fewer judicial systems in many of these countries treating women as if they have no rights at all. The rest of the world cares and seems willing to help where possible, and that’s what it takes to bring human rights to everyone.
More comfort zones, everyone gets to participate – Do you know how many rich people there are in the world? Do you know that the overwhelming majority of those rich people were either poor or lower middle class at some point in their life? Did you know that the fastest growing number of millionaires are older people?
I’m not going to insult anyone by saying it’s easy, and I’m certainly not overlooking some statistics that show minorities suffering greater than any other groups in this country. And yet, there always seems to be someone who figures out a way to break out of the pack (and not only via rap music), find their footing, take their shot at the big time and makes it. What happens after that is they bring in others who they feel were like them, mixes them up with those considered “the establishment”, and suddenly things grow even bigger and better. There are more role models outside of sports and music now of all races, sexes, ages, etc, and that’s what the world needs to see.
We find we’re more alike than we thought – Suffice it to say that I’m a pretty liberal thinking. There are many people more liberal than myself and way more who are more conservative than I am. However, when all is said and done, when you really think about it we all have the same goals at heart, just different beliefs on how to manifest them. We all want to be safe, we all want the opportunity to live our lives as we see fit, we all want fairness for everyone else, we all value life and we all want to live happily. The “what” has never been in question, only the “why”, but the “what” is almost always the same for all of us.
Feeling better about yourself – If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years it’s that it takes more effort to find reasons to hate or show hate towards someone else than it takes to feel better about yourself. If you have no inherent enemies, you have more time to think about your own needs and comforts, to feel better about yourself.
Sure, we all feel depressed every once in a while, and we all know that there can be obstacles to our achieving the success we want and that someone with bad intentions, on purpose or not, might stand in our way. But when we acknowledge those things, then figure out ways around or through them, we feel better about ourselves, stronger for the experience, and more at peace with our choices and our lives. And when we’re at peace, those we allow around us will be more peaceful as well. Who doesn’t want to live a life like that?
The more diversity barriers we can break down, the better we all live. We need to try to get back to the concept of “melting pot” rather than the new concept of “salad”. Then again, maybe I think this way because I don’t like vegetables. What are your thoughts on diversity? Can we get there?