Diversity

karen applesDifferent cultures and different points of view are woven into the fabric of this world. Thanks to the world wide web, globalization is now part of our daily routine. The world is getting smaller.

I’d like to share some initial thoughts about diversity. There’s a difference between embracing diversity and being in agreement. Diversity doesn’t mean we’ll agree. Diversity is the acceptance of a range of different people/things. Diversity is quite simple: it means variety. Being in agreement does not equate diversity. We can embrace diversity, yet disagree.

Let’s using apples as an example. They’re diverse: Granny Smith, Delicious, McIntosh, Gala, Fuji – yet, they’re all apples. They grow healthily in orchards of sameness. Your culture, your community and your world is like an apple orchard. You are valuable. Your beliefs, your convictions, your lifestyle, your principles, your opinions and your feedback are all valuable.

If you’re a Gala, you’ll never be a Granny Smith, and that’s okay. Granny Smiths and Red Delicious, although both apples, are diverse. If apples can thrive in diversity, how much more can we humans?

You know what confuses things? The word “or”. That’s what messes everything up. We like the word “and”. Think about it.

  1. A happy partnership works best as you and I; not you or I.
  2. Running works best with the right and left leg alternating in motion; not the right or left leg.
  3. Rocking a chair works best with front and back motion; not front or back motion.

Diversity challenges us to rethink things. Diversity is the invitation that starts us with “or” and unites us to “and”.

Invisible Cyber Voice: Karen, do you like surf and turf?

KT: Why, yes I do, CV.

CV: Which one? Do you like surf or turf?

KT: Umm… well, I like them both.

CV: You can’t. You have to pick your favorite.

KT: But they’re so different. One is seafood and one is beef. I like them both. Why can’t I like them both?

CV: It doesn’t work that way. Pick one. Pick a side.

KT: Okay…. I like surf. I choose surf.

CV: So you don’t like beef?!

KT: I do like beef!

The word “or” provokes us to choose this rather than that or that rather this this. (note the or I snuck in there).

I remember learning about dualism for the first time by Jim McNeish. In our world we are quick to choose sides, one or the other, either/or, this or that. And he challenged us to think more about “yes and.” (Do you like surf or turf? I like surf and turf.)

Think beyond the word“or.” It will help immensely in learning what it means to be part of this big, beautiful, blue planet full of diversity.

How does diversity grow healthy orchards? What does it look like when we embrace diversity and uphold ‘variety’ as a core value? Let’s start with 10 simple principles on how we conduct ourselves amongst diversity.

  1. We refrain from derogatory or condescending language about another human being.
  2. We may not always agree, but we are not aggressive.
  3. We do not disqualify a person’s beliefs, values and principles to help prove we are right.
  4. We recognize that mankind is made up of various cultures and practices. Ours is not the best one.
  5. We will debate and disagree without loss of respect, kindness and honor towards one another.
  6. We engage with interest in conversations to help gain understanding and appreciation of others.
  7. We embrace each human as a valuable contribution to this world and we’re thankful.
  8. We may have convictions on certain topics, but never at the cost of defaming or degrading another.
  9. We ask questions.
  10. We do not uphold discrimination and prejudice.

May we please place, as our highest priority, the embracing of diversity, regardless of which apple we are. Let’s simplify diversity and not over-complicate it. Yes, disagree all you want. Yes, have convictions. Yes, have points of view. Enjoy your community. Enjoy your culture.

It would be unrealistic for McIntosh and Fuji to think they are exactly the same in appearance, taste, smell and texture. Along the same lines, we can start at the simplest base root – we all belong to the same planet. Can we start there and work our way to the core? (yes, pun intended)

p.s. The apple core are where seeds are nestled, ready to be planted so they too can be an apple tree.

– Karen Thrall

*also published on www.karenthrall.com

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