From differences to diversity

This post ties up with one on tolerance that I wish to write.

Where we have people, we have individuality. This is what makes each one of us special. However, various aspects of life have converged to create a world where this is also a threat. Through our education, through polarized politics, and other ways oriented in scarcity beliefs, we have a very strong collective belief that there is one winner. If someone else is good, then others are bad. If Hindus are allowed power, Muslims suffer. If you like modern music, you don’t appreciate old songs, if you think one thing is correct and someone else thinks otherwise, then one of you is wrong.

I call this an illusion, because most of the time, its not true. Particularly when there are many people involved. There are different priorities, disagreements and conflicting interests. These drive us apart, and derail us from our purpose into first establishing the space we need to feel secure. We argue endlessly, find fault, make moral judgments, do many things to discredit anything that is not our view. It is a futile battle, because others are doing the same. An endless cycle of insecurity, paranoia and wasted energy.

On the other hand, what is differences between two people is the diversity in the larger picture. How we respond to it can enrich the whole system and us with it, or it can clog it up and leave everyone stuck in an unhappy place. Not being able to work functionally with differences is what we see everywhere there is conflict, disagreement, anger, and fustration. While you feel specially hurt, everyone touched by it is miserable.

Making that shift to diversity is all about seeing the common thread to the different perspectives. You may disagree on the color of curtains, but you can agree that both of you find the color of the curtain important enough for a well considered choice. Then, it becomes easier to see both opinions as contributions to own jointly and make a mutually useful decision together. Doesn’t always work, but it certainly helps to move away from a place of resentment that the other has a view at all.

The point is that it is worth learning how to make this shift, so that you are flowing constantly in the direction of your goal, rather than being stuck in pointless power struggles to “win” wars of opinions.

I have written an article sharing some of my learnings around working with differences, which might be interesting for you too.

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