Embracing diversity

Bringing a spiritual perspective to daily life

A year ago, when we moved to the city with the specific goal of embracing diversity, I don't think we had any idea of what was in store for us, but we got our first inkling of it one day on a trip to the grocery store.

At the last minute our 14-year-old daughter realized she needed a new pair of hose for a dance she was attending. No problem, we'll just pop into the grocery store on the way to the dance and buy some. That always worked in the suburbs. But not this time.

The store was well stocked with ladies' hose, but they were all for women with brown skin – not a single pair for a fair-skinned redhead. We looked at each other and burst into laughter. "We live in the city!" we reminded each other. That statement has become an almost daily exclamation as we rejoice in being stretched to appreciate life from a broader perspective.

The basis for our wanting to appreciate diversity came from a deep desire to more fully enjoy the infinite individuality of God's creation.

God, being the one creator and being infinite, His creation of spiritual ideas has to be infinite as well. What we see as different colors of skin, different religious approaches, different creative expressions, and different ways of living are actually the way we perceive something of the fact that God is infinite in His expression.

Just as an infinite number system has infinite ways the numbers can be combined, so God's infinite spiritual qualities relate to each other in infinite ways. To deny or reject any of the numbers or combinations of numbers would be to undermine the math principle itself. So, too, to deny or reject any of the infinite variety of God's ideas would be to undermine the Principle itself and so reject our own Principle. So we actually do need to embrace each other's diversity in order to embrace our own wholeness.

Of course, it's one thing to know theoretically that we are all brothers and sisters of one common Father-Mother God, but it's another thing to choose to live in the midst of it. It's so easy to find oneself flocking together with those of common background, culture, parentage, tradition, and heritage.

There's a certain degree of comfort in finding that everyone and everything you encounter in a given day will mesh with the way you think and act. But, in another way, it's discomforting to live in an insular, bubble-like world where the differences are "out there" and everything in our little world is done the way we like to do it.

First of all, it's boring and narrow-minded to never mix and mingle and learn to appreciate the wonderful variety of God's ideas. Second, we can never really be safe by ignoring or shutting the world's problems out from our lives. If they are "out there," then they can break in upon us at any moment, as we have seen in situations like Columbine, where a suburban, and not a city, school became the scene of a violent shooting by students. We're all needed to pray for these situations.

One insight I've had is an awareness that in all of God, Love, there is no violence, only Love. As the Bible puts it, "In him we live, and move, and have our being" (Acts 17:28). Since God is Love, and we live and move and have our being in Love, no harm exists in that Love.

It has been such a joy for our family to live and work in this community of African Americans, Asians, Hispanics, and Caucasians, and I think what has made all the difference is that we've really run to meet this opportunity.

But you don't have to move to the city to embrace diversity. The restaurants you choose to go to, the schools you enroll your children in, the roads you commute to work on, and the places you travel to on vacation – even the people you pass on the street and the books you read – give you an opportunity to embrace diversity.

What a difference it makes to dignify one another with the recognition that everyone's diversity is a hint of our own wholeness. What an awareness of God's infinity we gain, too.

Allness is the measure of

the infinite, and nothing less

can express God.

Mary Baker Eddy

(founder of the Monitor)

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