Friday, January 1, 2010

Diversity: My Confessions, Observations, Thoughts & Feelings

What I have been realizing that I have for the longest time I have
misunderstood, or rather more confused, by the word diversity.

I immigrated to this country back in December 1969. As I was growing
up, I used to read about how there used to be segregation, where
blacks had to sit in the back of the bus, had different water
fountains, etc. While I was never directly affected by it, the
thought of another human being treated so inhumanly as such used to
pain me. I mean, why should a human being who is no different then
anyone else be treated differently due to the color of the skin, and
that too in this manner? Therefore, I began to associate diversity more
as a race issue, more about about integration. I believed that we
should look beyond the surface and value and appreciate each other
based on what's inside, not outside. This doesn't mean I didn't
notice the surface differences for it's so obvious. But I didn't
treat, and still don't, another differently simply cause someone is
black, white, brown, yellow, purple, green, and so on.

Furthermore, when I was growing up, I recall many of my cousins
immigrating to this country. Some of them, before they even got off
the plane, they tried to put their Indian-ness behind them and started
to act and appear to be more westernized then the folks here. In
those early days, they tried to cover up their Indian-ness, rather
then be proud of it. For what reason, I still don't understand cause
I too am an Indian and not for one single moment have I ever felt
unaccepted or that I don't fit in. NEVER!

The net result of all this was that I just felt very confused. While
I appreciate everyone for who they truly are as individuals, I never
knew and know even today how to react to one's surface differences,
cause I don't know where they are coming from. Are they proud or are
they trying to cover it up. So I just don't say a lot. This doesn't
mean I don't value or that I don't appreciate one's color,etc. It's
just that I don't know where the other person is coming from and how
they might react. And I don't want to hurt someone for I fear what if
I say something "wrong". So I tend to avoid the topic.

In the end, the way I see it, beyond the obvious surface differences,
we have nothing but diversity. Think about it. Starting with some
thing as basic as our finger prints, there are no two human beings who
have the exact same pattern. Each is unique. Add to this one's
thoughts, upbringing, experiences, and so on, we each are unique and
we each have something to offer. Since no two human beings are
exactly alike, we truly are a 100% diverse population. And we all are
surrounded by 100% diversity, truly.

Having said that, there are certainly what I would refer to as
segments of population when we look at broad stroke differences. And
the following is and example, as a way of a metaphor, why I see it's
so important to recognize everyone and have a seat for everyone at the

There is an old saying that goes something like this. When you're a
hammer, everyone is a nail. So if we gather all hammers, all we end
up is seeing all non-hammers as nails. But when we bring together
hammers, nails, saws, paint brushes, paint, chisels, etc. we build a
Sistine Chapel. In other words, when we all come together and bring
our uniqueness and mix it all together, we end up with something so
truly delicious.

Another way to view this is that everything we are and what we have,
it's all a manifestation of our individual and collective thoughts.
So the more variety of folks that come together, the more variety in
thoughts. And from that mix of thoughts and creativity, newer and
newer possibilities emerge. With all this in mind, it's becoming
increasingly important that we all come together and value, cherish
and appreciate each and every individual on this planet for each and
every person comes to this planet with their unique gifts and they all
are important for this collectiveness brings richness to our lives and
helps all of us move forward. Without it, we limit our growth
and life becomes rather dull and boring.

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