The Importance of Difference.

The differences between us are natural and bring a beautiful diversity to human life – like a garden full of varied plants and flowers.  But perhaps there is a lot more to the story of difference than simple decoration.

In physical terms, in order to see anything clearly with our eyes we need it to contrast with its background.  Animals understand this phenomenon as they blend into the background to avoid predators. And, if you or I want to display a dark picture we will most likely mount it on a light background.  We do this because the contrast between the picture and the background allows everyone to see the features of the picture in greater detail.  Contrast literally draws our attention to what we wish to focus on and allows us to see it more clearly.  Perhaps there is an analogy to be drawn here in terms of human behaviour?

Sometimes, as we search for solutions to difficult questions we find that everything can be a big mush of detail.  To solve the problem we usually need to tease out the individual elements in order to come up with answers.  This can be hard to do because these ‘individual elements’ can be difficult to see.  We may not enjoy ourselves much when we are engaged in a problem-solving process with others who see things differently to us but perhaps the differences between us in the process may be the very contrast-providing mechanisms we need to see the detail clearly?

So maybe it is possible that just as physical diversity lends itself to greater health in a population (whether flowers or animals or people) then diversity of viewpoint and thought and culture and experience are just as necessary for healthy human society.

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