This I Believe

Chrissy - Spruce Pine, North Carolina
Entered on February 18, 2007
Age Group: 30 - 50
Themes: tolerance

I believe that I’d have less passion for living in this world without diversity. I’m as excited to find out about an unfamiliar culture as Jacques Cousteau must have been when he came upon a unique fish. Had there been only one species to explore in the ocean, I wonder if Cousteau would’ve bothered to dive into the water?

I hung out with bizarre kids in school who loved history and geography as much as I did. We were our own separate species that were herded to the back lunch tables because we didn’t fit in with others. My friends and I didn’t care, we couldn’t prevent nor hide that adrenaline rush when the newest copy of National Geographic arrived in the library and we were introduced to more lands and people so removed from our own.

Even at the age of seven, I suspected that people might always get along if we were exactly the same. Yet, without discourse would humans ever develop a passion for peace? How can people learn negotiation skills if they’ve never once participated in the opposite side of an argument? It’s sad that some of us have lost our tolerance for being ‘different’, and reject the variety of opinions that don’t fit our own. Some close their ears to the wonderful zing of an open debate, but I’m drawn to it like the sound of popcorn popping. I know that the moment we all think the same life will absolutely lose its thrill.

Recently I’ve pondered my desire to learn about other cultures and how it relates to the current war. I know the fighting is horrible, but I’ve also seen fellow Americans buying many books on the Middle East, or checking them out at the library in vast numbers. They are intensely interested in how a different group of human beings worship, raise their children, make a living, and how they might really feel about our country.

Like Cousteau, I hope humans can observe and interact with one another without trying to change or interfere with a separate environment too much. However, I’ve taken heart in what appears to be a renewed interest in ‘human exploration’. All of us are truly a unique species and we deserve the time it takes to learn about one another, without attempting to herd us into a corner because we don’t behave the same as others. I believe a new frontier in cultural understanding is on the horizon. Jacques Cousteau would be proud!