One Thing We Can All Do To Help Solve Diversity
Greetings from Yokohama, Japan! This is my follow-up post to an earlier post about empathy. I recently gave a keynote presentation to a number of invited guests and one of the topics I talked about was how to solve diversity. Within that short time, I talked about my dream to remove the word “diversity” from existence. In other words, why should it even be an issue was the basis of that topic and how can we truly start to embrace diversity?
"Wars, sports contests, countries, blood types, cultures, gender, people diagnosed with diseases, etc., all have one thing in common: they create categories of separation".
We tend to “box” people into labels and categories more than we think and all of these impact our unconscious bias. Even our education systems box children into age groups and force them to think and behave the same as everyone else your age is. Sir Ken Robinson said it well when he said:
"A three year-old is not half a six year-old."
What we don't always realize is that the more we categorize ourselves, the more barriers we are creating, and the more superficial differences we are creating. This obviously makes it more difficult to embrace diversity. If you don't believe me, consider the following.
The one that really bothers me are the categories of generations. Baby Boomers, X, and Y. Really? Why are we also categorizing people and dividing them by age group? Is this already not forming subconscious opinions about age? Don’t we have age discrimination policies in place? Why can’t we just treat people as people? Why is it so hard? What even defines a "generation"? How can we even think of defining a generation when we look at the global picture of who we are: We live in different climates, we have different cultures, we have different living standards, we eat different foods, we speak different languages, we have different technologies available to us. Why does a 30 year-old from the US have to be boxed into a category that makes them the same as a 30 year-old in China, or for that matter, any different to a 60 year-old in Africa? I'm sorry but this importance just doesn't compute.
When taking various online tests to check if I belong to the millennial generation (or not), I wasn't surprised to find out that I was undoubtedly part of generation Y instead of the predetermined, X. When I take an online test to check if I’m a baby boomer, results determined that I was indeed, a baby boomer. So, which one is it? What’s interesting about some of these online tests is that they seem to judge "generation" based on the technology that’s available at the “time”. Many questions are around how many visits to social media one makes every day. Really? I know people of all ages who use such tools and age has nothing to do with it. Is this how we are categorizing ourselves? What is the benefit? Perhaps we should start to introduce other concepts, like how many teeth you have? It's all a bit unnecessary from where I stand.
Why can’t we all just be who we are, right now, in this moment? Just as important is why can’t we accept people for who they are right now, in this moment?
The One Thing You Can Do
We are in trying times to embrace diversity and as long as we keep creating these categories, we can never truly remove the biases that exist in our minds. For love’s sake, the next time you greet someone, I challenge you to try the following:
Greet them verbally, but at the same time, in your head, wish them happiness.
You can simply say to yourself whilst you are greeting a person, "I wish you happiness". Do this over and over to various people and you will create a powerful mental habit that might reciprocate in the form of loving-kindness. You'll create a wonderful energy transfer every time you do this, not to mention how many smiles you’ll give and receive without even realizing.
I think that’s a much nice way of living life and building relationships. What do you think?