Gratitude 016: Diversity

I am thankful that our nation has been a destination for immigrants for so long. My father emigrated from Sweden with his family in his teens. A long and storied history of immigration has given us the wonderful mix of ethnicity we enjoy today. I am so lucky to experience the individual diversity present every day in Western Washington.

I can’t imagine living in a world with a bunch of people that are just like me. The music would be awful, dancing wouldn’t be a thing, and everybody would die of relatively benign injuries and ailments, as there sure as heck would be no doctors. I can’t even stand when a student shows me their loose tooth! Just this weekend, I got to enjoy two events that would not have existed if there were only “me”s in the world. First, a hockey game. I tried hockey once when I was little. I slid into the boards and speared my stomach with my stick. That was enough of that. Next, a monster truck show. I had little interest, but my four-year-old son loved it. You’ll never find me driving a pickup truck, much less a monster truck! The diversity of beautiful things created by humans would not be possible in a more homogeneous world. The art, music, theater and architecture that we enjoy is created by brilliant people who think in much different ways. We need people who are drawn to a huge range of industries in their work in order to meet the needs of our growing population. We need doctors, construction workers, public safety officials, janitors, CEOs, performers, and pharmacists to make this world go round. I am so thankful there are people who gravitate to these jobs, because they are crucial, and I could never see myself performing them.

I am grateful for the many different cultures whose values don’t always align, but provide great insight into the human experience by showing us how different peoples approach life in community. We get the opportunity to borrow ideas and traditions from multiple sources and combine them into a society that works for us.

Yes, the history of the world is a history of different people with different values clashing and being unable to find common ground. Wouldn’t it be better to just stick with our own tribes with our shared values and be happy? Impossible! The affluence of the developed world exists only because societies have opened their borders and markets to others for trade. We are all better off when we share our gifts with others and exercise comparative advantage to enlarge the pie for everyone.

I am grateful to live in this country that contains so much diversity. I suppose I wish that ALL people would celebrate diversity, but then that itself would be a reduction in diversity of opinion. The best I can do is celebrate what I want to celebrate and respect those who disagree.

Image: Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial. Taken by me, July 3, 2014.

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