Diversity comes in many forms: gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, age, culture, socioeconomic background, etc. All of these contribute to an individual’s unique experience of the world.
Sometimes we need to take a step back and examine the presence of diversity in our own life. How diverse is your school? Neighborhood? Place of work? Group of friends? Is diversity something we should strive for in all aspects of our lives? Here are 5 reasons why we at AMP Global Youth think we should:
Bringing together people of various backgrounds with different life experiences can generate ideas or perspectives that others may not have ever considered or been aware of. Everyone has their own way of viewing a problem, shaped by the individual experiences that they have had. When tackling an issue, wouldn’t it be better to have multiple interpretations and approaches, rather than everyone contributing the same thoughts and conclusions?
- Becoming a World Citizen
If you experience diversity in your everyday life, you will have regular exposure to people, cultures, traditions, and practices that are unlike your own. You will learn the skills to communicate and interact with communities and concepts that you are unfamiliar with and gain a more worldly view.
Not only will you enhance your social development, but you will also increase your understanding of the world. This will prepare you to be a part of a global society, whether you are traveling to a new country, working with diverse co-workers, or just reading about events in the news that have heavily impacted a population different than your own.
Hearing about another’s experience can shed light on a life different than your own and provide you a new perspective. When you compare your struggles, priorities, and values, you can really begin to comprehend where an individual is coming from and understand his or her actions and behaviors. Perhaps talking to someone new will change your mindset and priorities, or at least make you appreciate another’s motivations and hardships.
- Growing Acceptance, Diminishing Discrimination
Promoting diversity is the first step to not just “tolerance,” but true acceptance. Through growing contact with, exposure to, and communication between new people with unique ideas, individuals may see that they may have more in common than they thought. Or, they may still be remarkably different, and that is okay, too! Increasing familiarity with these differences can alter perspectives (see #3), facilitate acceptance, and diminish the misconceptions and prejudices that fuel discrimination.
- Richer Life Experience
Diversity is colorful! What if everyone who surrounded you was exactly like you, in every way? Where is the fun in that? We need new ideas, views, and practices to stimulate and inspire us, to show us the way others eat, celebrate, and love!
Together, our differences make a strong, beautiful, world community. Even in the face of intolerance, discrimination, and violence, we must not forget to spread the word about the importance of diversity and to respond to that violence with a love and a celebration of our differences.
by Toni O’Boyle -AMP Global Youth