Sunday, January 29, 2012

A Need for Diversity

One way in which I give back to this country, which has provided me with such tremendous opportunity, is to volunteer my time and talent with local nonprofit organizations. One afternoon during a committee meeting for one of these nonprofits we happened to become stumped on how to provide a particular service. After struggling with this problem for most of the meeting a quiet voice spoke up from the corner of the room.

He said, “This situation reminds me of a similar problem we had in my country as I was growing up“ and then went on to describe how the problem was solved. Everyone marveled at his wisdom because this solution happened to fit the problem with which we were concerned. At that point I became a staunch supporter of a viewpoint supporting diverse genders, ethnicities and religions whenever possible being brought together in order to solve common problems. A quotation by Thich Nhat Hanh which verbalizes this thought is as follows:

“No single tradition monopolizes the truth. 
 We must glean the best values of all traditions
 and work together to remove the tensions between traditions 
in order to give peace a chance.”                                    
As I employed this philosophy in my business I found we were able to expeditiously solve many problems and that the solutions came from multiple members of the team assembled. All I had to do was create an environment in which these team members felt comfortable in contributing to the group. In other words, it was the differences in their past experiences that made them valuable to the team, rather than their similarities.
As I have grown older and reflected through the years I still find this philosophy on diversity to hold true. Oftentimes we focus on our differences and allow those differences to drive a wedge in our commonalities. I have often said that if 2 people agree about everything then one of them is unnecessary. Our past experiences have a direct influence on how we view life and how we view life creates our reality.

The point I am making is that 2 similarly qualified people with diverse backgrounds can look at the same problem from different perspectives.  In reality this then gives us 2 potential solutions. I believe that we should celebrate our differences and not hold them up for criticism.

You see, it does not matter if we are Republican, Democrat, black, white, brown, red, yellow or green; we are all in the same boat and are faced with many of the same problems.  Just as it takes many different strands to strengthen a rope, it is our diversity that makes us strong. 

1 comment:

Alyssa said...

I'm late but thank you for this!