Who is immoral?
Who is intelligent?
Who is hardworking?
Who is superior?
Who is disrespectful?
Who is expendable?
Who is lazy?
Who is attractive?
Who is a criminal?
Who is a killer?
Who is poor?
Who is overweight?
Who is inferior?
Who is kind?
Who is stupid?
Who is disabled?
Who deserves your judgement?
We speak of diversity in reference to gender, sexual orientation, disability, age, ethnic or religious background…
The problem with this is the labelling it creates and the notion that we need to take special steps for this labelled cohort. Diversity, and sister terms like ‘inclusion’, suggest acknowledging groups, often minority groups. But the very grouping, the very labelling of the group, is itself creating a boundary. An us and them.
In reality, we’re talking about difference, and we’re all different. All individually diverse. All totally unique.
The more we pay attention to who we are and how we come to the world, the more curious and open hearted we are; recognising that everyone around us does that differently… the better we will be. Everyone comes as their unique self. Everyone has a place.
Use what talents you possess; the woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best
As human beings we are drawn towards people because of similarity, or sameness, and because of difference.
There are no rules about how much of each. No guidance about the levels or attributes of the sameness and difference, but seemingly we seek a smattering of both. A balance. Not equal, but a balance nonetheless.
For a relationship to become more than just there for a transitory reason, a casual acquaintance or one formed for a specific work project or short term activity or hobby we need sameness and difference. We may circumvent this need in the short term. We can cope. Make adjustments. The temporary nature of the relationship maybe allows us to be more forgiving, or maybe we simply don’t care as much? Or maybe there isn’t actually a relationship at all?
However, for longer term relationships, working harmoniously together, a need for sameness and difference emerges if the relationship is to blossom and last. Maybe the sameness can come from shared values, shared goals? Maybe a similar posture to work – being a completer/finisher, or having an attention to detail? Maybe the sameness comes from a shared philosophy on life, or from similar hobbies or lifestyle? Maybe the sameness simply comes from being an early morning starter? These are not of course, solely the criteria for sameness. They may equally apply to difference. A big picture thinker may connect with a detail deliverer, and vice versa. Someone with a different philosophy or orientation to life may value the difference of another perspective (many mentoring relationships work well in this way).
So there are no ‘rules’. There is no formal contract. No tacit agreement. Not even a verbal contract… or even a discussion. Often not even a conscious awareness. Like many uses of the ‘iceberg’ analogy, this is all below the surface. Invisible. We just somehow know.
And maybe like an iceberg, that brings dangers?
Maybe we should surface this more in relationships?
Out beyond ideas of right and wrong, there is a field. I’ll meet you there.
Judgement stifles freedom, space, uniqueness, diversity, acceptance…
Let’s meet in the open field.