Thursday, March 31, 2011

Not Like Me

"At bottom every man knows well enough that he is a unique being, only once on this earth; and by no extraordinary chance will such a marvelously picturesque piece of diversity in unity as he is, ever be put together a second time."
--Friedrich Nietzsche

You are not like me. You look different. You talk different.

And that's just fine.

I am not, as so many people seem to be, suspicious of difference. In fact, I am suspicious of sameness. I am leery of it.

I do not understand the mentality that would lead someone to wish to live in a world filled only with people "just like me". How frightful that would be. And boring.

Like eating the same food all the time.

I am not saying I am not without preferences or prejudices, we all have them. But when it comes to the people with whom I surround myself, I want diversity and variation. I want to be challenged in what I think is the way things are. I want to learn and grow and change.

Perhaps I have an unfair advantage. I grew up in a house in which a multitude of different nationalities and cultures constantly mixed. My parents always had exchange students from all over the world staying with us. And if you walked out the front door and looked at my neighborhood, the same neighborhood my daughter now calls her own, you'd see a mishmash of cultures. It's still that way. 40 years later.

And perhaps, too, I have never felt I fell within a culture that required an assertion of  "better than you". I never heard my parents say or saw my parents do anything remotely prejudiced. I was never raised with a sense of pride or honor because of my culture/race/socioeconomic status, rather I was raised to take pride and honor in the things I accomplished. Not the things I was by happenstance.

In my opinion, a culture is a not a thing that should be closely guarded and protected, but shared and celebrated.

We are not the same, you and I. We don't have to be.