It may simply be the irrationality of the times or the shifting tides and winds. Nonetheless I do think Difference is a notion that continues to vex us. Shall we reinforce or do away with “Us vs. Them” thinking, choose compassion over judgment, and curiosity over fear? Or not? The climate has been particularly deadly of late – as if there were something else going on that we choose to miss. (Pay no attention to the current, endless streaming of melodramatic, barely factual punditry and drivel currently available ad nauseam to rile up even the most mild-mannered among us on all sides.)
If we take two steps to the left, we will notice changing patterns of thought, action, and decision-making. The pendulum is swinging back and forth. Another way of putting it is this: as systems shift and react to myriad internal and external influences, it takes time for the system to self-organize once more. Each of us has the ability to influence the world, and that may be our call to action. Do something different and change the patterns for ourselves.
In my mind, the notion of Difference still retains the underlying opportunity of ‘So What?’ Let’s just pursue that thought. Because you are _______ (fill in the blank) and different, what are the implications for you and me and the world as we know/understand/like it? My response, personally and professionally, is this: between and among us, there are gazillions of differences, e.g., hometown, education, values, lifestyle, favorite ice cream flavor, hot dogs with mustard or ketchup, sports teams, aisle or window seat, shaken or stirred, and so on. There are differences and always will be.
The real question then becomes, What are the DIFFERENCES THAT MAKE A DIFFERENCE? Because you and I sound different, look different, and celebrate different occasions and rites, does that mean we cannot work together, live in the same neighborhood, sit next to each other on the commuter train, and have a lively conversation and exchange of ideas?
Instead, let’s explore those differences that really make a difference and focus on resolving them. If we can get back to the basics of who we are, what is important to us, and how we want to connect with others, we may be able to clear some common ground for progress and reason.