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You Know What's Cool? Diversity. - How To Push Yourself Harder in Exercise | Crank101

You Know What’s Cool? Diversity.

A Buddhist and Muslim Woman... friends, but so diverse.
A Buddhist and Muslim Woman... friends, but so diverse.

Today a friend’s blog got me thinking about something I think about often but haven’t written about specifically yet: Diversity.

Diversity among human beings is so wide-ranging and thoroughly  manifest that it’s hard to fathom. I went to my friend’s blog (MauiGirl’s Meanderings) and she had a list of 100 experiences one could share with other bloggers just to see if readers shared any of them. As I looked through the list – the topics were really diverse and yet I probably had done half of them.

I started thinking… what if that list was 6,000,000 items long and I put a check box beside every experience that I’ve had in my life – and so did everyone else in the world – over 6,000,000,000 people.

A list of that length would incorporate many mundane experiences like, “I made toast,” “I burnt toast,” “I slipped on a banana,” “I ate squid tentacles” and other experiences but we could also include likes and dislikes and behavioral questions – like a massive personality slash life experience test.

The people of the world could answer all the questions in their language as a yes/no response and we could compare people that matched on certain question sets.

You know what? Even if two people matched on all 6,000,000 items they would still be very different people.

What if the list were 100,000,000,000 (100 billion) items long? Would there still be differences between two people even though they answered every single question the same as the other person?

I think so. People of the world are remarkably diverse.

First off – we can see that the statistical probability, without trying to evaluate it – is beyond impossible for 2 people out of 6+ billion to answer all the questions about experience, likes/dislikes and other behaviors the same way. Probably two people couldn’t answer 1,000 questions with any subject the same way so it’s safe to say two people answering 6 million questions the same way is like the monkeys on typewriters banging out the complete work of Wikipedia some time. Just not going to happen.

Even when we think we mesh with someone – our wife, husband, best friend, or someone else… we don’t really. There are literally millions of differences between ourselves and any other person on the face of the planet. The idea that we are a perfect match for someone is a fallacy that many of us haven’t questioned yet.

Isn’t what really matters the amount of tolerance we have – the amount of forgiveness… the lack of seriousness about the differences between us and another person?

Some people are rigid and unforgiving. They take very seriously differences between themselves and other people. These might be the people that end up not having many friends because they are at odds with everyone.

Others take difference with a grain of salt. I have an uncle like this. Though he has ideas about what he likes and doesn’t like – he isn’t too interested in talking about the differences seriously. He jokes about differences, isn’t attached to them much and instead he seeks similarities between himself and the other person in the conversation. He tries to find common ground constantly. His wife is the same way… and they’ve been married for about 40 years.

What kind of person are you? Are you really attached to the idea that your friends, your life partner needs to come to the same conclusions, likes and dislikes that you have?

How realistic is that when there are millions of differences between us?

Or, are you the kind of person that understands how diverse human beings are in personality, temperament, experiences, likes/dislikes, preferences, etc.?

I find that the more people I interact with from other countries – the greater my worldview is affected. The more diversity I experience, the more it changes what I think about people around me – those close to me, and strangers. I find commonalities and differences between myself and everyone I meet.

If I focused on the differences I could argue with every person I met. If I cared about politics I could find something to set me apart from every person I met. If I cared a lot about a religion or a certain philosophical way of living my life I could argue with children and elderly alike. I could actually get upset because others believe differently about subjects important in my mind. How crazy is that?

There are people like this. Their idea of interacting with others is to express their strong ideas and see if the other person responds in kind. If not they either – enjoy the argument, believing that to be positive social interaction in trying to change the other person. Or, they move on to find someone else that agrees with their ideas and as such, is more pleasant to talk with.

There are commonalities and differences between you and every person on the planet. Though it’s often said that each of us has an identical match somewhere on the planet – even that isn’t true. There are many differences between identical twins.

Was there ever born two twins that were absolutely identical? No. I can say no, not even researching it. Every person has hair on their body. Every hair is of a certain length (when not cut). The hair disbursement pattern and length of each hair cannot possibly match another person exactly. What about retinal differences? Fingerprints?

Similarly, but to a whole nth power of difference is the personality, likes/dislikes, experiences of two people. No two people ever did, nor ever will match on a long list of these.

There are personality tests like the Myers-Briggs that ask hundreds of questions for the subject to rate themselves on a scale between two dichotomies. When it’s done you get a 4 letter acronym that stands for something. I got “INTJ” as my result. I know many other INTJ’s and though we are alike in small ways, overall we are nothing alike. The test could be a million questions long and still couldn’t account for the diversity that exists from person to person.

Personalities are diverse. Experiences are diverse. Likes and dislikes are diverse. Physical bodies and their limitations and construction are diverse. Ideas about religion, philosophy, nationalism, truth, morality… are vastly diverse and unique to the individual (phenomenological).

Over the years as I grew out of my 20’s, 30’s… I began focusing on the similarities between me and others – not the differences. I think it’s the better way to go about my life.

There are lots of discussions about differences, that’s fun at times too. But, differences I take with a grain of salt. I don’t dwell on them or argue too strongly about them – what’s the point?

What is the point of life when interacting with others? Our social lives… what is the point? The differences or the similarities? I think both, but the similarities are what I enjoy sharing with other people I meet and know as I move into my 40’s.

How about you?

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4 thoughts on “You Know What’s Cool? Diversity.

  • at 10:44 am

    Great post, Vern – I’m glad that post of mine inspired such an interesting post on diversity on your blog! Interestingly, for an “icebreaker” exercise at work, we’ve done a very abbreviated version of your idea of having everyone checking off their experiences. A page is given to everyone asking specific questions (favorite color, favorite movie, whatever) and everyone answers the questions and then has to find another person who shares each single one of your answers. It’s remarkably hard to find even in a room full of only 20 people.

    I think I tend to be friends with those who have the most similarities but can value the differences as well.

    • at 10:56 am

      Thanks for writing… I think differences are interesting. Sometimes they conflict with me and I distance myself from a person that has differences that are annoying to me. Sometimes I’m drawn to someone that’s so different from me in nearly every aspect of their lives just because they’re that different. I have to know – how did that person grow up? On another planet? I think most times I like differences…

  • at 10:00 am

    I know what you mean, sometimes I do have to distance myself if someone else’s values and beliefs are just so opposite of mine that I can’t have a conversation about anything with them. I have a friend whose political beliefs are the antithesis of mine and we used to be able to agree to disagree but this election cycle may have done our friendship in…sad but sometimes it can’t be helped.

  • at 11:27 am

    I loved this post quite a bit–very few others seem to realize how attractive diversity truly is to the human experience.

    I love the idea of everyone looking different than me–it makes me feel comfortable, like this world is so big, and I’m so small. I don’t know why, but I love the feeling.

    I am white (russian american, 2nd generation) and strangely enough, I’ve dated black and mexican girls my entire life. I just find what’s outwardly different than me more attractive…but often times, I find myself having more in common with my dates than I’d never anticipate! so we humans are so different…yet so the same, it’s not even funny.

    I love the diversity of religions, colors, opinions, cultures, cuisines, languages, practices–I love the idea of just being somewhere where I’d never imagine as a kid, and meeting someone totally different than me–it fills me with a childlike curiosity I haven’t felt since I was really young.

    good article, Vern 🙂


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