The Need for Celebrating Diversity

By Mohamedali Habib (Dar es Salaam, Tanzania) 

As I saunter at a snail’s pace toward the back of the aircraft where my seat is located, I can’t help
but marvel at the diversity of the passengers aboard. Here we all are, from different races,
cultures and nationalities headed toward the same destination on a sunny Saturday afternoon.

Everybody aboard the plane has a story; a story that includes shattered dreams, broken
hearts, tragedies and death. A story that includes love, hope, fulfillment of dreams and life. A
story, that if articulated properly could melt the coldest of hearts.

The truth is blatantly obvious; we all share the same story. But human perception is frightfully
narrow. We have built a society where a particular race, nationality or culture is considered
superior to the other. With the recent global political shift in rhetoric that is xenophobic and
nationalistic, I would like to highlight 3 key points that indicate why diversity should be

First and foremost, we have “the bubble burst”. We all love people who have ideas and beliefs
that are similar to ours, but far too often we find ourselves trapped in a bubble. Our progression
as individuals occurs when we are exposed to ideas and beliefs that challenge our foundational
notions of truth, and that allow us to see the world from a different and holistic perspective.

Hereafter we have ‘the novelty rush’. Imagine Celebrating New Year’s Eve like the Spaniards by
having 12 grapes at the stroke of midnight to symbolize the 12 lucky months ahead. Imagine
calling your brother a brat because you’re learning Russian and it means brother. New research
led by the University of Edinburgh and published in the scientific journal Nature seems to
indicate that novel experiences boost memory formation. Novel experiences also assist us in
combating hedonic adaptation, which is the phenomenon that describes the fading away of
happiness as a result of experiences becoming repetitive.

My third and final point is the “creative conflict”. Conflict is a life force filled with creative
tension and energy. The interaction of different perspectives and personalities fosters out of the
box thinking which leads to innovative solutions to everyday problems. Diversity of thought
allows us to explore new possibilities hereby acting as a hub for business, cultural and
technological innovation.

Embracing diversity means understanding that each individual is unique, and recognizing our individual differences. These can be along the dimensions of race, ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic status, age, physical abilities, religious beliefs, political beliefs, or other ideologies.

To conclude, when we realize that we all share the same story and we are all headed to the
same destination, we will be able to see past the social constructs of identity and truly embrace
each other for who we are. The words of Mahatma Gandhi over half a century ago applies more
aptly today than ever before: ‘Our ability to reach unity in diversity will be the beauty and test of
our civilization.’

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