Monday, August 6, 2018

Microstory 901: Diversity

The rainbow flag has been used as a symbol for a lot of different things over the course of centuries. Today, it is most commonly associated with the LGBTQ movement, but I’ve never thought of it like that. Most people believe that there are seven colors in the rainbow, but the truth is that there are literally all of them. We arbitrarily break it down into seven standards, but it could just as easily be eight, or 39. In this way, the color spectrum represents all that a human being is capable of perceiving, which is most of what matters to everyday life. Because of this, I have always seen the rainbow flag as less of a symbol for any one sexuality, or even multiple sexual orientations. I’ve always interpreted it as a symbol for diversity. People who preach peace often do so by pointing out our similarities. We all live on Earth, we all bleed red blood, we all need to eat, etc. But as a futurist, I see this as becoming a problem in the future. We won’t always live exclusively on Earth. If we encounter an alien species, their biology would most likely be different than ours, and they might not possess red blood. And our nonbiological friends, who are energized by other means, will not need to eat. It is a problem for us to emphasize our similarities, because that’s really just another way of valuing homogeneity over variety. You see, we are not beautiful creatures despite our differences, but because of our differences. If we were all the same person, we would not be capable of coming up with new ideas. We would not create stunning art, or discover medical breakthroughs, or come up with technological conveniences. We would just sit here in the boredom of our own predictability. And in but a few generations, we would simply die off, because nobody wants to procreate with themselves. When I walk into a room, I want to see men; women; young people; old people; black people; Asian people; people of all shapes and sizes, from all backgrounds, of all identities; maybe even a few white people. A recent study has suggested that those living in an ethnically diverse neighborhood are more likely to help a stranger in need. Their experiences with people unlike them have given them perspective, and a whole hell of a lot of empathy. Because when I say that we should value diversity, that doesn’t mean I think we should ignore how well we relate to each other. Our ability to put ourselves other people’s shoes will always drive us to good works more than inherent altruism, which is fundamentally difficult to achieve, and far rarer than you probably know. King Dumpster was elected president in my country because he spoke to the hearts of an astonishingly large number of people who prefer mirrors over windows. It is up to the rest of us to prove that we are not all like that. Because we aren’t. We are diverse.

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