“When one is open to diversity, which can be found just about everywhere, one opens themselves to see as much as possible, and invites others to truly see them.”
The words Difference and Diversity come from the same Latin root – which is to “turn aside.”
When something “turns aside” something else, it becomes distinct from that original thing, it becomes clearly separate – it becomes different.
So “Diversity” is a “turning of different ways.”
I like this image of turning.
When someone turns, you can see the front, and sides, and back of them. And they, in turn, can see all around themselves.
In contrast, by standing still and only having one perspective of the world, one can become defined by that one point of view, and miss out on all the possibilities around them.
When one is open to diversity, which can be found just about everywhere, one opens themselves to see as much as possible and invites others to truly see them. They gain understanding and in turn, can be understood. They clear their minds and open their hearts to peace and understanding.
Children don’t tend to lead with difference. Children, left alone, tend to be less interested in color of skin or shape of face or height or sound of voice – and are more invested in whether or not another child is interested in playing. If they are nice. If they are fun.
But because they live in the world we all live in, they will eventually notice a difference and they will ask questions like “Why are all those white people yelling?” or “Why do those people all wear black hats?” or “How come he has bright pink hair”. They will now be in a world vast with variable – a world that they will need to navigate.
So how can we help them?
I think telling stories is always the best plan. When you tell a story rather than lecturing or explaining, you speak the language of childhood. You speak in images rather than concepts and give the child some real footing for making sense of a complex topic. Instead of talking about civil rights or religious liberty or the Disabilities Act, consider telling a story about two different kinds of pandas – or maybe an island where the inhabitants all looked exactly alike or about a family where every member had a different skin color. You can pick your child’s favorite animal or tell a story about your childhood that is relevant to the topic.
We wrote three stories about Diversity and you can use them for your storytelling.
One is called “The Blunt Gnome and the Shiny Gnome”. It’s about how they fundamentally disagree on how to work with gems. They feel so strongly about it, they refuse to even meet with the other kind. But when Gnath, a blunt gnome, and Lonrach, a Shiny Gnome, meet one day in a cave situated exactly between the two gnome lands, the two groups are forced to work this out. The result surprises them, and though their perspectives do not change much, their understanding of the other side does.
Another is “The Judges of Juniper Grove.” The town of Juniper Grove needs a judge. The town is growing fast, and new people from different towns and different communities are moving in every day. The town council winnows the choices down to three different applicants – a local possibility, a man from a nearby city and a man all the way from the east coast. Each of the judges offers a completely different point of view, and the council doesn’t know how to choose!
And then “The Lemurs of Milton Park Zoo” where the lemurs are a curious bunch, unlike any other lemur exhibit, or even lemurs of the wild. They are a dynamic, colorful group with ever-changing behavior. It all started a very brave and curious White Tuffed Lemur named Priya, who received some simple wisdom from a visiting gecko who can change colors at will.
These three stories are all about developing rigid belief systems and then finding opportunities to see situations from a different perspective – to ‘turn aside’.
You can take these images and play with them with your own storytelling – or invent something entirely different. And if you were able to weave in a narrative that helps them to return to the place they know so well: the place where the only currency is play and niceness – they will thank you.
Photo Credit: Getty Images