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DIVERSITY - - or perspective?

by Joan Bachman
From Merriam Webster -- selected
Diversity 2: an instance of being composed of differing elements or qualities: an instance of being diverse, a diversity of opinion
Perspective 2 a: the interrelation in which a subject or its parts are mentally viewed places the issues in proper perspective; also : point of view b: the capacity to view things in their true relations or relative importance trying to maintain my perspective

Each of us is different from anyone else on earth, whether within our close circle or on the other side of town or the other side of the earth. How is it that we accept some differences, make allowances for some differences, and totally reject other differences? Diversity encompasses things such as location, ethnicity, beliefs, education, economics, gender, ability, opinion, appearance, language, habits – and many other elements of living. We sometimes see the unfamiliar as being outside our ability to accept. We don’t let our perspective stretch that far.

My perspective seems to be based on my experience more than on reality, listening, or thinking. If “this” is how I have lived and gotten things done, it must be the right way; if “this” is what I believe, it must be right. Whenever I expand my experience, my perspective changes. Even the smallest bit of broadening makes for a different understanding, a wider circle of friends, and possibilities for even further expansion of perspective. I discovered that even painful experience, when viewed with a learning attitude, makes for a positive change to perspective.

I try to be accepting of differences that are at least within the same moral sphere as I operate. Even at those attempts, too often I fail miserably. I get irritated when someone acts or sees a situation from an angle different than mine, and may or may not take action as a result of irritation. “Action” may be expressed in words, attitude, or shunning. I have forgotten to listen long enough to attempt understanding.

History books are full of events that demonstrate failures to accept diversity in most every facet of human life, and the violence that results. Every day we listen to strong words against anyone who disagrees with a particular point of view. This tendency seems to be growing at all levels and by every means possible. If the increasing distrust, violence and crime are any indication, it seems the hateful words do not offer a good outlook for peaceful coexistence. I believe it is the job of each of us to counteract differences by learning new understanding and sharing that within our own circle.

Because we have differing experiences and opinions we have fertile ground from which to learn and improve the ways we live together rather than to allow diversity to separate us. As an employer, I listened to staff members object to proposed operational changes; “just leave things the way they are”. My response was often that change is necessary because without it we would be still peeking out of caves.

There are certainly no answers on diversity and perspective included in this article. I do encourage everyone to take more chances to gain new experiences; meet new friends, attend different events, take a different road. Teach rather than criticize. Volunteer to share your expertise. LISTEN. Those chances can lead to new perspectives about the diversity we each face every day.

About the Author

Joan Bachman

Joan Bachman is a Registered Nurse, Licensed Nursing Home Administrator, Registered Health Information Technician, and Faith Community Nurse. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration. Joan has experience as a Nurse, Administrator, Developer, Trainer, Grant Writer, and served as Administrator of SD State Survey Agency. She has consulted with health care facilities and nonprofit organizations and presented leadership training. Joan is the author of Guidebook for Assisted Living Facilities and Senior Service Providers and Guidebook for Physician Services in the Nursing Facility, and she has published in professional journals.


Vicki Schmidt

I love the line about counteracting differences by learning new understanding and then SHARING it with others. It’s so true that even brief encounters, short but important interactions do change us. It’s basically what I’m writing about now - how my current configuration of diversity understanding has come to be, all by a myriad, dizzying harvest of experiences! Enjoy reading your thoughts!

Beth Roder

IF ONLY!! LISTEN! I agree with your concept of stretching ourselves through various means in your last paragraph. This is the beginning of global reconciliation..beginning with self.

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