Being open to diversity
Being open to diversity:
Being open to diversity is another way of saying: I am willing to put my biases aside…but wait, we’re adults here, am I saying we still hold a wide range of biases?
That is an interesting premise, so let’s take a moment to look and see, that if in this day and age, do we still believe; gays are perverts, blacks are inferior, Jews are money grubbing thieves, conservatives are war mongers and liberals just want to sit around the campfire and sing Koombiya.
The first question:
Do we still hold on to the bias of hate, discrimination, intolerance, or even worse, the things we don’t understand?
I remember my mom use to say; ‘I don’t mind Negroes, Japanese, or Koreans, as long as they don’t live next door to me…’ but her world was rocked when my brother was stationed in Thailand during the Viet Nam War, he married a Thai woman who barely spoke English, and on top of that she had three children… When she learned that her first husband had been a pilot and an officer in the Thai Air Force, and she learned that he had been shot down by the North Vietnamese Army. When mom learned these things, she saw her daughter-in-law and her grandchildren in a whole new light. By the time mom met her new extended family, my brother had seen that the children not only learned English, but they were taught German and Spanish because he was stationed in these countries after he adopted the children. His attitude was that if they were going to be strangers in a strange land, they needed to know how to communicate, to be better understood. Well, mom started singing a different song after that.
My dad would say that ‘to each his own’ but he’d be damned if any of his children would end up one of those pansy faggots, prancing about like little fairies, that is until one day after a few too many drinks, he said he did not think I was growing up tall and ‘straight,’ ‘you’re nothing more than a little fag, a disgusting little fag,’ but then I asked him if it would make him feel better if I pranced about like a fairy. My youthful attempt at humor only added fuel to his fire of hate and bigotry because he got loud and violent, but he was never physically abusive to me, he saved that horrible tragedy for my sister.
What they did not realize was that they were planting a seed in our young minds, that if you were not white, middle class, straight and protestant, you did not have a place at the table.
We were not alone, this was a strange time in history, and they were unwittingly raising a generation of people with the idea that their attitudes would be our attitudes. Their prejudices would be our prejudices, and their misery would be our misery. In order for these collective biases to change it required a need for us to take a look at where we have been, and is this where we want to go? Many of us said no, and that required making a change.
You can change your socks. That is easy. You can change a light bulb, unless you live in a building like mine, where they pay someone to change the bulb, but the hardest thing for us humans to change is our attitudes. Once we figure out how to do that, life becomes much easier.
Do I still have certain biases? Yes, I admit it; I cannot stand broccoli, asparagus or Brussels sprouts, although I am becoming more tolerant of spinach. I prefer creamy style peanut butter over chunky style and I have an even harder time with people that live in a world of closed minds.
I have learned a great deal about myself, and more importantly I have come to a point of self discovery that, I know I’m not straight, I’m fine with who I am. I am not wealthy, but I’m happy with my lot in life. Most of all, I know this is an imperfect world, so in order for me to survive I can say that I like Negroes, Japanese and Koreans and I welcome them to my neighborhood. Some of my best friends are gay, lesbian, or transgendered and most of all, they are, tall, short, skinny, fat, funny, not so funny, deeply intelligent, happy in a simplistic life, in fact just like you and me, everyone is just human, down to our bones. Yet with that we are all the same, we all exist on this same planet for just a little time, don’t you think we should make the best of it?