This I Believe

Sumithra - Kirkland, Washington
Entered on October 18, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: race

There exists a world with no concept of colors. The entire world is one huge blob of white… well, more or less. There’s all the light one would ever want, but everything there is white.When the average homo sapien ends up in this world on a clear day, let’s say on a seashore, and looks at the horizon, here’s approximately what he sees: a clear white sheet on top that’s a more brilliant white in just one particular patch where the sun is, and a white of a rather different quality, more shimmering and alive with movement, at the bottom. Of course it is not absolutely true that there is just white, for, the absence of light would inevitably engender black, and the very existence of light, the existence of physical matter, and the interplay of light and matter entails the existence of shadows and shades, which quite naturally engender a gray scale. But when ample contrast does not exist, we homo sapiens would grope like blind people. It is quite ironic. There’s light, and lots of it, you have organs that can perceive and a brain that can comprehend images, but that does not help much, simply because there isn’t enough input to help make a distinction of one thing from another.

I once got thrown into this world, and fascinating though it was, I was a fish out of water, until I came back here, to this world where we can not only live comfortably without knocking things around as we walk in broad, bright daylight and know when to stop and when to go at a traffic light, but can also enjoy the sight of a rainbow on a pleasant day, enjoy the splash of paints on a blank canvas, and decorate our christmas trees with lights, ribbons, cotton and confetti.

When I came back to this world, I felt overwhlemed by the sight of colors, and following the same line of thought, of variety in the universe, because in a reductionist sense, it all came down to distinctions, and variety, the myriad shapes, patterns, sizes, behaviors, characteristics, moods… To me all these aspects were like colors! True, isn’t it, that they add color to life? Not only does one thing being different from another give you two different points of view, it makes life more interesting, doesn’t it? What a drudgery this whole existence would be without people of different physical characteristics, different personalities, different behaviors, traditions, customs, beliefs, langauges… ! We wouldn’t have as many refreshing or new things to offer to those around us, would we?

I believe in variety. I hope that even with globalization and interconnectedness, coupled with interracial marriages and gene pool blending, variety is not on the verge of extinction. Today we have the means to freely share and learn about various aspects of people and customs from the farthest places across the globe precisely because of the same reasons: globalization, technology and interconnectedness. I believe we should help preserve the diversity in art forms, traditions, celebrations, languages, cultures and fashion. This calls for helping keep your traditions alive, by, for example, supporting ethnic art forms in addition to contemporary ones or popularizing food from your country around the world, but what’s most important is to be open to newness. And I don’t mean fanatically and indiscriminately following traditions just because they were sewed into the fabric of the society one was born and brought up in , like say a culture in which women are oppressed. Morality and justice cannot be sacrificed in the name of variety. I am referring to heterogeneity that makes the world interesting and broadens one’s perspective.

The upshot of all these thoughts was a strong feeling of enlightenment I had, just realizing how free and light it feels to view different customs, traditions and beliefs as elements of variety in the world, in a very detached sense, rather than making judgments on what is better or “right”. As long as people are not fanatical or going to the battlefields on grounds of differences, does it hurt to have variety in the world? Does it hurt to add a little poetry to our lives? Couldn’t we enjoy these different colors on the rainbow of life?