Diversity Exists Everywhere: Do We Notice It – And Value Experiencing It?
By Hosea Long
Associate Vice Chancellor
Chief Human Resources Officer
Over the recent holiday season, I found myself without power at home. Fortunately, I had my smartphone, and I was able to keep it charged by using the charger that connects to the car. The joy at realizing I was still connected to the outside world was quite comforting. While I sat in the candlelit spaces of my home on the first night without power, I commenced to do something that I probably would never have done had I not been snowed in by the blizzard of the century. I found myself Tweeting. For those of you who might be uninitiated, this isn’t some vocal rendering of songs that should be relegated to the shower in order to spare others the agony of hearing. This is a third-millennium form of communicating in cyberspace via something called social media. I’ll admit, I had signed onto Twitter (the proper name for the platform is Twitter … one Tweets on Twitter) a couple of years ago; however, I had only sent five Tweets into cyberspace. Where am I going with this?
If one is aware, one can always see the diversity that exits around us everywhere. As I sat in the twilit space of my humble abode, sending Tweets and receiving responses from around the globe, I started to notice the diversity of the responses and the people who were Tweeting. One was from a young African-American lady from my home town of Wynne, Arkansas, who is in Israel, studying for a master’s degree and writing for an Israeli newspaper. Can you see the diversity implications in that? The richly varied responses popping up on my phone from unexpected quarters caused me to think about how those convenient boxes we put one another in – race/ethnicity, gender, age, geographic origin, socio-economic class – cannot begin to explain each person’s individuality, their way of perceiving and experiencing that informs their unique world view. It’s that hidden diversity that oftentimes makes us so interesting. It makes very little difference what socio/economic strata each of us comes from; we are all multidimensional in our own right.
My Tweeting experience has quickly developed into much more than the five Tweets I had posted over the previous two years. Suffice it to say, I’ve done a lot more over the last week or so. The richness of perspectives I am now privy to will likely keep me Tweeting for some time to come. Being able to receive the thoughts and opinions of others, regardless of where they fall on the political, social, religious, etc. spectrum helps me calibrate my on heart-felt opinions about the issues of the day. I am able to utilize that richness to bring clarity to why I think, feel and act that way I do. The late Alex Haley, author of Roots, was known to say, “We should look for the good and praise it.” In much that same vein, I would say that it might be worth it to seek out diverse opinions and use them, discount them or cull them to the point that they challenge us to examine our own world view and in the end help us to better understand our own beliefs.