I came away from the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. breakfast here in Newburyport this past January with much food for thought about diversity. I’d like to share a few insights.
For starters, I’m grateful to live in a community/country where differences/alternatives are to a growing extent accepted and respected. One Webster’s Dictionary defines diversity as “the condition of being different.” Which one of us isn’t different, unique, in some way or another? We’re much like individual flowers that contribute to the beauty of a bouquet. So the challenge is to appreciate the differences and recognize our common humanity. What can make this seem difficult? Perhaps things we’ve been taught, stereotyped thinking, prejudice, fear.
Acceptance of diversity is freeing because it allows us to fully explore our own understanding or way of life and yet appreciate others who are pursuing another path. True diversity allows us to find our own way in a non-confrontational atmosphere. For me, the basis of accepting diversity is that each one of us is a unique, valuable, individual child of God, if you will –– part of the family of man. From that premise we don’t need to see ourselves as white/black, male/female, rich/poor. Though it appears that we are in those categories, we are more than that. Paul in the Bible put it this way: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28). I think Paul was talking about a spiritual view of ourselves — that there is more to us than flesh and bones. Don’t we all — whether or not we consider ourselves religious — get glimpses that there is more to life than meets the eye?