“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness,” claims Thomas Jefferson in the United States Declaration of Independence. As much as I would like to agree that this statement from an all-so-important document in United Sates history is true, I can’t. I just can’t.
Access to crucial institutions and resources such as education, love, leadership, followership, art, literacy, health, and money are so widely varied that many have little to no chance to develop the opportunity to even dream of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. A few weeks ago, I participated in an activity that made this painfully obvious—again.
The world would be a very boring place if everybody were the same. If we all looked, behaved, dressed, and spoke the same way there would be no reason to explore what we all have to offer. We would never need to ask a question, because we’d all have the same set of information, perspectives, and opinions. How bland. Not only is it boring, but also a lack of diversity exposes us to all sorts of risks. Diversity of thought leads to innovation that solves or mitigates man of the world’s problems. Remember polio? The vaccine never would have been developed if nobody ever thought, “Hey, what if we fought the virus with the virus?”
We often say we value diversity, yet behavior often suggests otherwise. We, more often than not, gravitate towards people who remind us of ourselves. We form strong bonds with those who share our political views, sexuality, race, gender, schools, and geographic location. We often harm those we view as outsiders, whether it’s intentional or not. In doing so, we harm those in our group as well, making dissenters invisible and creating a culture in which fear of retribution prohibits people from speaking up. Things become more complicated when we analyze the interconnected roles discrimination play in perpetuating class disparity and access to resources and institutions. It’s a shame that it often takes a tragedy or catastrophe to make us realize that one thing that binds us together is that we’re all human.
A diversified portfolio is the one investment method we know works. Investing all of one’s money in one security exposes that person to unnecessary financial risk many of us aren’t willing to accept. So why do we put ourselves at such social risk? It’s not the world most people claim they want. But it’s the world we continuously create.
I am making a consious effort to better understand the complex outcomes that are derived of my actions. Maybe one day we will transcend the idea that we need to “tolerate” differences to the practice of “celebrating” them.