I swim in a pretty small social pond. It is mainly comprised of middle class, moderate-to-well educated, straight, white people. Most of us are fiscally conservative, and are socially moderate-to-liberal. Of my core group of friends, over half would self-identify as some strain of Protestant Christian. We are all gainfully employed, all with children, mortgages, and car payments, and most of us are able to take pretty decent vacations. We are rather homogeneous.
You know what you get when your gene pool is too small? You get birth defects. You get diseases like hemophilia. You get the Habsburg Jaw.
You know what you get when your social gene pool is too small? You get malformed ideas of society. You become blind to the world at large. You can turn ugly.
Diversity is important. It is important genetically, and it is important socially. It is vital.
I have been incredibly fortunate to live in major metropolitan areas, where diversity is not hard to come by. I have worked in wonderfully diverse places, and at each one I have come up against my own privilege and prejudices that I would otherwise never have know were crowding my mind. And, every single time I’ve had to stretch my mentality to accommodate a new truth based on that diversity, it has been ugly.
Why can’t I comment on the texture of your hair? Why should I have to curtail my sense of humor for you? Why do I have to learn a new pronoun?
Bottom line every time is that I can’t, shouldn’t, or must because it is a human being staring down the barrel of my verb, and my job is to do unto others as is my own entitled expectation of service.
Because I don’t want you asking about my body. Because I don’t think your rape jokes are funny. Because I want you to respect my femininity.
Because it doesn’t cost me anything to treat you well and respect your wishes.
My internet social group is much more diverse than my IRL crew. I am daily and eternally grateful to these people who challenge my blue-eyed view of the world.
If my worldview is a jungle, my friends are explorers, researchers, doctors, architects, engineers, and adventurers whacking through old growth and underbrush, smoothing out paths, clearing out space for new ideas until I suddenly find myself halfway down a super-highway of new philosophies, new empathies, and new love and respect for the diversity around me.
Like I said, it is always painful. Growth is painful. If, when you are working out, pain is weakness leaving your body, then when you are opening yourself to learn about new people outside your comfort zone, pain is small-mindedness leaving your heart. If it’s hurting, it’s working. You are being separated from ideologies that are so ingrained, it is like taking off a layer of skin. That’s a good thing.
We’re all just people. We’re all just trying to get by. Imagine how much easier that would be if each of us was intent on making the road just a little smoother for the guy to the right. Because, to the guy on the left, you’re the guy on the right.
While you are Passing Over, He is Risen-ing, Ridvaning, or just Spring-ing, take a look at the guy to your right. Make his road a little easier to walk.