We need to learn to work together, utilizing our individual strengths and points of view as a diverse group of people, to make a better community for all.
Much has been said and written about how important diversity is in a community, and how is not enough to be diverse- you need to include the people that are different to you, make them part of the community, become their friends. But how does that inclusion help the community as a whole? What does being truly united as a community look like?
When we speak of using our strengths to help each other, we usually think of the abilities we are most used to see and our work ethics and determination. But a person of another ethnicity, a different culture, a different religion- might have a different idea of what constitutes a strength, what work entails, and what determination looks like. It sometimes is completely different to what we in the US would think, and not knowing these differences might hinder communication, and even prevent someone from contributing their own talents simply because we were not able to recognize them.
This is not a new idea, however. This country was founded with diversity in mind. But back then, BIPOC were not included in their plans, and most were being exploited as slaves. But times, like everything else, change for the better. When we talk about diversity nowadays, is no longer only a matter of nationality or religion, there's much more than that. When we try to explain to others the importance of inclusion, we advocate for those that need to be part of the community, for their talents, for unity.
Unity helps us as a nation. If there's unity among the people in a country, despite their ethnic or cultural differences, their various ways to see the world, or how they see life- we all benefit. When we unite, we work together for the place we call home, even if that home is far away from where we were born. But to unite, as a nation, we need to understand and respect each other in equal measure.
So, next time you're thinking about including someone different from you in the conversation, support them and stand by their side. We are more alike than we are different, but it's important to understand those differences. Learn the nuances of their culture, how they see the world, and listen to them. Our culture is not the only culture, or even the norm around the world and what might seem normal for me, might be rude for them, or the other way around. Behaviors that we consider normal, like approaching a person of authority and talking to them uninvited, are considered rude in many parts of the world, where respect of their elders or authority figures dictate that we don't look at them in the eyes, or talk to them directly without them approaching us first. That difference in culture could mean that this person would not feel comfortable talking to their manager about any complaints they might have, and for this manager to think that the person is refusing to engage with them, and label them as untrustworthy, or aloof- when in reality this person is just following what they learned of how you treat others according to their culture. Being aware of these differences, and learning to find a middle ground based on respecting each other's views, it's one more step to achieve our goal of unity.
It's important that we remain receptive to learning about each other, and respecting each other's cultures and expressions- because together we can get so much further, than apart.
Together, united, we stand tall.