| With an ever shrinking world and an increasingly mobile population, there is a lot of discussion about diversity, cultural, religious, and otherwise and how to learn to live and deal with it. People who advocate diversity and are good at embracing it are generally globally aware, adventurous, non-judgmental, open-minded, and empathetic, in other words, not like your average human being at all. Let's face it, most of us are not exactly outstanding examples of the best of humanity, much to our shame. We tend to be suspicious, narrow minded, judgmental, frightened, and clannish. Human nature is not always a lovely thing and rising above some of our less admirable traits and instincts can be a challenge to say the least.
Due to our core nature among other things, while the idea of living a harmonious existence in a diverse culture is an admirable ambition, in practice it doesn't always work out as well as we might like, and that is too bad. If we are fortunate we are able to live in the culture of our preference, even within our own nation. The US is a very regional nation with glaring differences depending upon where you live. I have lived all over this country and in my experience, regional differences can be as extreme as those between nations. We are generally most comfortable in the culture and environment in which we are born and raised, although that is not always the case. I was born and raised in Northern California, third generation on my father's side, but I discovered that I was drawn to, and far happier living in Northern New England for some reason. I have not spent a lot of time analyzing why, I just know that it is true. I was totally unhappy living in the southeast and spent an entire year there feeling like a complete alien. I looked in the mirror each morning and checked for green scales and feelers in case I had grown some overnight. I was less uncomfortable living in the midwest, but still never felt at home.
The other day I had what I would consider a 'diversity day'' a day where I came into contact with all kinds of dramatically different people over a short period of time. Since I am an observer by nature, I always find these kinds of encounters terribly interesting and I like to watch how people interact with each other during the normal business of going about their lives. On this occasion I was headed out to somewhere I had never been in search of a business to which I was taking my sick computer. Since I don't own a GPS and found myself pretty much in the outback, I opted to stop at a small convenience store and make sure that I was headed in the right direction.
The two nice ladies behind the counter were what you might expect in such a place. They were friendly, efficient, and knowledgeable. One of them had a great deal of big hair, all of it bleached and highlighted. It was pretty impressive and completely immobile. I don't think 20 minutes in a wind tunnel would have had the slightest impact on her style. Her smile was ready, her laugh loud, and her accent all Maine. She was waiting on a gentleman who was buying something at the counter and giving her a blow by blow description of how he planned to spend the day. I could tell that she had mastered the very useful ability to look as if she were listening while she went about her business and paid no attention to what he was saying. I got the impression that his recitation of his schedule for the day was something that probably occurred on a daily basis in the store. The man was very tall and skinny and I could not see his face, but I had an excellent view of the giant rip along the back seem of his jeans that fully exposed half of his posterior and the boxer shorts he was wearing, which, I noted, were chocolate brown with little gold fleur-de-lis. After he left I asked the nice ladies about my destination and listened while they shared a discussion of just where this hidden business might be. During the discussion another woman came to the counter. She was close to 6 ft tall, had dyed blue black hair, pale skin, and enough facial piercings to make her at risk for a lightning strike. She was dressed entirely in black and very modern Goth. She told me that she knew just where I needed to go and gave me excellent directions. When she smiled her amazingly white teeth gleamed as brightly as the shiny metal strategically adhered to her face. She was very nice.
Thanks to her directions, I found the business a short time later, incongruously stuck in the middle of nowhere. It seemed a little odd, but the reviews people had written about the business online were so glowing that I felt it was worth the trip into the woods to grandmother's house. I rang the bell and the door was opened by a handsome young man with a welcoming smile. It took about .25 seconds to figure out that he was from somewhere in the Caribbean. His skin was like milk chocolate and his accent had the soft, musical lilt of the islands. We chatted, he took my computer, and assured me that he would have an assessment for me by the end of the day. As he walked me to my car he took care to assure me that although his business location was somewhat remote, it was a very safe town and I need not worry. What a sweet boy.
As I drove away I thought about the diversity of the people I had met that morning and reminded myself of what I already knew, that people can be totally diverse in a thousand ways and live together in harmony if they share one thing in common. They just have to all be nice.