It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences. ~ Audre Lorde
Imagine, if you will, a life in which we, you, me, everyone, ate only one thing. There were no other options. Every day, every meal, day after day, year after year, we ate a mush similar to mashed white rice. No sauces. No flavorings. No added meat. No salt. No pepper. Just plain, mushy mush.
Sounds awful to me. If I eat any one meal more than twice in a day (except for tuna casserole which I can seemingly eat every meal for a week), I grow weary. I need variety. My body craves variety. It’s in the variety we get pleasure. It’s in the variety we get nourishment without which our health suffers.
The variety giving you pleasure many not please me. It may even cause me to wretch. Even if I had a life-threatening allergy to the food you love, I think you would agree that it would be wrong of me to force you to abstain from this food variety you find pleasing, nourishing, quality of life enhancing. And it would be wrong for me to condemn or vilify you because your food preferences are different than mine.
The choice is not a case of right or wrong. It’s simply options that are different. It’s those differences we should be celebrating.
Now, imagine if you will a society with only one political party or one religious body or one language. This would be a mushy mush society lacking in the myriad spices giving human existence succulent flavoring. It would be a society where all think alike, lemmings with noses inserted deeply in the anus in front of them blindly following even to death. All would think alike. There would be no innovation. There would be no checks and balances to stop the human horde from tumbling over the cliff to collective deaths.
If we all followed the early teachings of the early Catholic church, we would live on a flat earth at the center of the universe and know that people born left-handed were “servants of the devil.” (Which is scarily analogous to the Church’s view on homosexuality.) And that’s only the start of single position thinking.
If we all adhered to a view the Islam was, is and always will be evil, we would still be living in the dark ages for it was Islam that saved the knowledge of antiquity when the Church was busy destroying books they deemed blasphemous. It was the Arabic numbering system that freed mathematics from the confines of Roman numerals enabling calculus, enabling the study of fluid dynamics, enabling the fight opening diversity to the masses. It was Islam that translated the Persian codices, The Canon of Medicine, which became and remained a medical authority for centuries. All this occurred during the time the Church was using leeches and blood letting to cure the ills of man, drilling holes in people’s heads to release evil spirits, and suppressing any ideas that may conflict with interpreted teachings found in the Bible.
Thankfully, the Church has seen the light and opened itself to outside knowledge enabling it to leverage disparate ideas instead of immediately labeling them as heresy. The very problem contributing to problematic Islam today is precisely because they have stumbled into the quagmire from which Catholics have mostly extricated themselves from. The view life through the lens of a single book.
The current US political climate is heavily burdened with ideological right-wrong, us-them, good-evil zealotry at the expense of rational thought, heaven forbid the parties actually converse to understand each other. The establishment has created the illusion of choice but are, in reality, the same entity speaking with a forked tongue into any ear they can sway to bite their apple. If they really were different, our standard of living would change significantly when the ‘better’ party was in power. The distribution of wealth in the US shows only the wealthiest are benefitting.
Not the case. Never has been the case. Never will be the case unless…unless we the people extricate our heads from our own asses and start thinking for ourselves. Instead, both following sides are happy to grovel through life as lemmings with noses crammed so far up the asses of their partisan masters they fail to see all but the very wealthy are running over the exact same cliff. I wish the American government had many more strong parties vying to lead the people. At minimum, term limits so the status quo may change. This would at least give we the people a chance of electing a government of, by, and for the people. Instead of a party propped up by the wealthy.
I don’t foresee this in my lifetime. The elected leadership is expert at polarizing us. They know, if they can keep us afraid and bickering, we won’t see the man behind the curtain pulling our strings has no pants. They divide us along insignificant lines teaching us to fear differences, Black vs White, East vs West, Male vs Female, Straight vs Gay, Native born vs Immigrant, Christian vs Muslim, rather than celebrating our amazing diversity.
What would happen if stopped the noise in our heads and began celebrating differences?
We would discover we have much more in common that could unite us than we do differences dividing us. I base this on actual experience. I have traveled to many countries meeting and befriending people in the process. I have visited Muslim countries where I experienced incredible hospitality. I lived 18 months in Southeast Asia in a culture as different from mine as I can imagine and discovered the differences are superficial.
In most every case, people want food, shelter, safety. The ability to make a living and provide for their families. For their children to have a life a little better than theirs. They want to go to bed at night and wake the next day free from tyranny either domestic or alien. They want to live long lives surrounded by loved ones.
If we learned to embrace and celebrate our differences, the people could finally cast off the fear perpetrated by governments. We could cast out those puppets of the wealthy and create a system where wealth is distributed more equitably ending poverty, ending the need for one government to dominate another.
But this is only possible if the people mature to the point where they can legitimately celebrate the differences of our neighbor instead of oppressing them because they don’t eat the same food we do.