Thursday, November 22, 2007

Diversity Defines Who We Are

Diversity is a wonderful thing. Each of us has some sort of diversity that defines ourselves and makes each of us unique. Without diversity, we would all be the same. Now there's a scary thought.

di-ver-si-ty (noun)

a variety of something such as opinion, color, or style
social inclusiveness
ethnic variety, as well as socioeconomic and gender variety, in a group, society, or institution
discrepancy, or a difference from what is normal or expected
Simply put, our diversity defines who we are; through controlled and non-controlled circumstances and choices. I like to think of myself as being diverse, but some would say I am different. Same thing, according to the English dictionary.

We are born into a particular race, sexual preference, visible attributes such as color of hair, eyes, and body size. For some, that includes religion, such as the Jewish nation which is composed of race and those who are converted. Each of us has a calling or has made a choice in employment.

In our personal lives, each of us employs diversity in everything we do. Should I buy that metric cruiser, or the sportbike, and should I deck it out in chrome, and which chrome accessories do I want? What color should it be, and what will I wear while riding it?

What hobbies or activities do I enjoy? How many children should I have, if any? What beliefs do I want to have, of those we have a choice in; is Halloween an evil holiday, or a fun one where I can obtain boatloads of candy and dress up in cool costumes?

Our individual diversities cause us to form opinions about others who prescribe to a different set of lifestyles. Opinions are never right or wrong, they are just opinions. But when that opinion becomes a judgement, this is where many forms of bigotry come from; i.e. cruisers are better than sportbikes, he/she is an idiot for doing bungee-jumping as a hobby, his/her sexual preference or lifestyle is different than mine so it must be wrong.

I recently commented on a friend's blog in response to a post about one of our political parties hosting a holiday dinner at a posh resort (Delaware Curmudgeon). My response was a tongue-in-cheek response to her comment about what to wear, should she be invited to attend; also a somewhat derogatory comment with a flair of amusement.

I said I'd happily accompany her in a black vinyl dress and thigh-high leather boots with 5 inch spiked heels (yes, I own such adornments).

What I found amusing was an anonymous response to my comment where the poster did not know if I was male or female based on my signature (Sam). He did eventually look at my profile, but not before responding in a short sentence that spoke volumes.

It was obvious that the poster thought I was male, and I was willing to dress up like a female to attend this political gala. The questions that immediately came to mind were: Would it make any difference if I was a male cross-dresser? A Lesbian? A Dominatrix? Would my comments be then invalid? My intelligence less than worthy?

And would I attend dressed that way? You bet I would! What fun to see all those high society snobs looking down their noses at me while their husbands drooled at the way I was dressed. But the likes of Shirley and myself, part of the common folk, would never be invited to attend such an event. We are not part of the rich and famous who can further the career of the politicians who govern this country. Our lack of diamonds and pearls, our date's long hair and beards, and our obvious lack of millions in our bank accounts, exclude us.

Now, I'm guessing most people reading this blog are of the same class as me and Shirley. We are the majority. We are those whose paychecks put salaries in the pockets of those who deem to call themselves "public servants" when it suits them. And we are not welcome to ride our motorcycles to this event, dressed in our leathers, and rub elbows with the rest. Sound like society a few centuries ago? I've got news for you. It hasn't changed, except to thinly veil the facts through media and lies.

I wrote my comment on Shirley's blog without any mention of what gender I am so I would know if people bothered to look at my blog, or my profile. I'd say it worked. I also don't think I need to. What difference does it make? Would my comments be any less important than if I came out and described my diversity in some way? Would it add to the point I was trying to make?

There are those in forums visit that still think I'm a man because of my name. I don't correct them either. It is simply too amusing when they finally realize their error. My profile isn't a secret, and I nearly always comment using my blog signature.

In my 52 years, I have known, and still have, friends who are from all walks of life, including cross-dressers, gay people of both genders, and BDSM lifestylers. Some of them I'd trust with my life. Their diverse life contributes to who they are, and in most cases, they are as open-minded as I am. For I am uninhibited in most things and appreciate that mind-set in others. I have my own set of rules and ethics for myself, the first and foremost being "harm no one".

A very good friend of mine is an under-cover law enforcement officer. He is a quiet, handsome man, who rides motorcycles, has a wife and children, and basically does not stand out in a crowd. I would place my life in his hands without question. He is also a cross-dresser. Another friend is a professional Dominatrix. She looks or acts no different than I when encountered on the street. Some of my best friends are lesbians. Do I engage in any of these activities? No. Does it matter to me if they do? Again, no. They are all intelligent diverse people I would place high on the list for honesty and integrity.

Being the diverse person I am, I can appreciate, and embrace in some cases, the views of others. And in keeping with my #1 rule, I limit my personal judgement of others to activities that harm or may harm others. Beyond that, who am I to judge what other people choose as their diversity in life? What is important to me is honesty and integrity. Not what a person does after hours, unless it is harmful to others.

In most jobs (including government jobs), a person has customers, internal or external to their employer, with which they must interact. Your paycheck is dependent on how you meet the needs of your customers. In government, public servant means serving the public, for which they are paid a healthy salary. Last time I looked, I am part of the public, same as you. To discriminate or judge me because I am not rich or influential is a crime deserving of getting fired in the least.

Circumstances are such that I do not belong to this "class" of people. Does it make me less of a person? No. I may have the same years (or more), of education, just in a different capacity, than many politicians, and we pay their salaries. What we get (or should get) from our government is service based on our needs, as part of the public, regardless of our diversity.

The government advocates that a person not be discriminated against based on diversity, yet it happens every day, as in the political event Shirley writes about. Every time politicians pass a bill that removes freedoms from us, their employers, against our will, they are in direct conflict with my needs and desires as their employer.

Would I agree to have politicians as part of my inner circle? That all depends on their honesty and integrity. As far as I can tell, very few meet my criteria, as a friend, or a public servant.

Judge not, lest ye be judged. The freedom to choose your own diversity in life is a God given right.

Ride long, ride free.


Shirley Vandever said...

"Do not harm." "Just not, lest ye be judged."

It is amazing that two simple sentences can hold such power, yet be so difficult for many to understand and follow. Why is that? If these two ideals were followed, there would be alot less misery and strife in the world.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours, Same.

Sam said...

I don't know for sure, Shirley. I think it comes down to ignorance and personal insecurities (of the personality kind).

Many make judgements of others based on beliefs without the knowledge to back them up. Much of my own philosophy comes from the learning and growing that comes with age (aside from reading everything I can get my hands on). I'm still learning.

We used to joke and say, "Ignorance can be fixed, but stupid is forever". The older I get, the more I think that's true. Being ignorant is a choice.

rc said...

Damn Sam, does this mean I can't ride with heels no more? rc

Sam said...

RC, you can wear your spiked heeled boots anytime you ride with me. They're especially good for defending yourself against squirrels and stray dogs.