27 septiembre, 2011

Celebrate difference

Diversity is a source of exploration, interaction, and self-growth. However, even though we find richness and knowledge in diversity, we still fight it, instead of celebrating it; we still insist that our perspective is the only valid one as if it were absolute; we still want to prevail with our point of view. In a sea of possibilities, we deny ourselves the great opportunity to learn –from the difference- something new.

We tend to think that diversity is outside, far and away from us; the truth is that we find diversity everywhere: in our country, in our neighborhood, even in our family, and it’s there in our inner circle where we are least likely to accept difference. How many times have I heard a parent saying with sorrow about his son: “Oh! He is so different from me,” meaning that he, the son, is the black sheep of the family, because he is different from his dad (How dare he be different?).

How many times have we heard “we are so different” underlying “there’s no way we can get along”. Difference has been, for a long time, a plausible justification for separations, enmities, and violence like crusades, invasions, and wars. Is this what we want? Are we aiming for all people to live the same way, for the same philosophy of life? Or, are we favoring authentic dialogue in order to learn from each other and live in harmony, cooperation and respect?

Diversity is not only good, it is also desirable, like in a MOOC. However, it requires from us acceptance, true interest, recognition, and validation. There are no better or worse cultures; there are no superior or inferior human beings: migrants, indigenous people, exiles, and foreigners bring new ideas, experiences, knowledge, and hope to the places they arrived. Pluralism is the undertone of our times. We are multicultural beings. The world is not a closed, homogenized, totalized, rigid, and uniform block; rather, it is a cultural mosaic, a world that shelters many worlds inside.Diversity is also key in the success or failure of a company: hiring people from the same nationality, gender, religion, age, or background is a huge mistake. In this sense, Celia de Anca has been promoting diversity management and its impact on modern business. It’s perfectly logical: anyone who differs from me, enriches me, and enriches my company.

As educators, we must celebrate difference, we must promote an education for and from the difference, that is, the inclusion, respect, and acknowledgement of every single culture, of each and every human being.

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