Embracing Diversity: What defines us surely can’t divide us?

The unfortunate incidents of May 25, 2020 brought to the fore an age-old fundamental challenge that discrimination of any kind poses to humanity. The trouble is, that when all is said and done, George Floyd may go down as another name that sparked a wave of movements that promised to change the world for the better, but faded away into oblivion with the passage of time. The world has seen its fair share of individual revolutionaries and mass movements, each fighting for a different cause, but none that can claim to have uprooted completely the evil that they fought against.

The problem is that we continue to fight the symptoms but it is practically impossible to cure the disease by attacking the symptoms. What defines us and makes us unique is the very thing that divides us. Imagine a world with no color, caste, creed, religion, countries or any form of individuality has been eliminated, much like Ayn Rand’s Anthem – is a world like that desirable? Surely you couldn’t discriminate against another that is almost identical to yourself in all aspects, but is there then a point to existence without identity and individuality? Isn’t it the diversity of mankind that defines us? Don’t we all take pride in who we are – as unique individuals that then share certain common characteristics and take pride in identifying with that community. In fact, doesn’t each characteristic owe its uniqueness to the existence of the opposite other? Isn’t white unique only because of the existence of black, don’t we aspire to be rich because poverty exists?

Where then did the notion of “superiority” sneak into the beautiful co-existence of all these differences and characteristics that define us and make us unique? A part of my favorite quote from Kahlil Gibran says “I despised my soul when she despised the ugliness of a face, and knew not that it was one of her own masks.” Isn’t that true today more than ever?

But is this disease of discrimination curable today or have we come to the point of no return? The answer to that I do not know. What I do think is required is to tackle this at the root – for each of us to raise our children in a way that they learn to embrace one another for who they are and learn to value and respect the differences, as our differences are what define us and make us who we are. Education is not and should not be about being the smartest person you can be, but the nicest human being you can be. And like all big revolutions, the change begins with each one of us. What movements like BlackLivesMatter will do is just amplify and raise this awareness more rapidly, and hopefully one of these days, it will spread wide and deep enough to bring a lasting, permanent change.