“It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences.” ~Andre Lorde
I do not accept the premise in the quote that we have an inability to recognize differences. Rather, we are hyper diligent at identifying differences, have cultivated an outright refusal to look beyond differences cursing our hearts so we are unable to see the other human as an entity worth knowing, a person worthy of acceptance, an individual possessing intrinsic value.
If we took the time to accept differences, learned to appreciate the beauty diversity bestows upon the human race then celebrating our differences would become a daily event. Embracing dissimilarities and acceptance others would become the norm. This is not an easy task. I sometimes need to work hard to see beauty in every individual.
There are times when my first reaction is to judge, to group, to dissect, and separate into an predefined category. When I am aware this is happening, and it happen more than I am comfortable admitting, I quickly shift my thinking with the phrase, “Thank God for diversity.” These few words help me check my thoughts and view the other as a unique person with a fascinating story. I become eager to learn instead of classifying.
Unfortunately, many prefer to quickly classify someone to save them from the difficult work of thinking, from the heart intensive activity of getting to know the individual. Classification means we can quickly order, categorize and squeeze a person into a box whether they fit or not, without bothering to see the person behind the difference, to explore their inherent uniqueness.
We sometimes push the box onto a dark shelf beneath us forcing the eyes to look down upon them from a superior position. We sometimes wrap the box with pretty bows and elevate it on a pedestal then develop envy because we see them as better than us. The few we perceive are like us, we place on shelving of equal height and call them friend. They are us, a being safe to embrace. We fail to recognize their thinking and beliefs may be more in line with those in one of the boxes we detest.
Sadly, some people have a need to hate so they can feel good about themselves. They refuse to look past any differences viewing deviation from their norm as odd, or in more severe cases, wrong, possibly wicked, or inherently evil, subhuman.
I like to think of all humanity on the same level, not better, not worse, just different. This helps me view everyone as brothers and sisters. This helps me love my fellow humans even when my first reaction may be fear. This leads to my ability to celebrate the amazing diversity of humanity.