Aaron Yates and I begin a discussion on how the way we approach or break down parts of life can be both useful and counterproductive…
This entry was posted on May 28, 2012 by oakritchie. It was filed under Baha'i, education, Media, money, race, Religion, society, Technology and was tagged with aaron, action, Bahai, Class, communication, community, dialogue, Equality, experiment, family, governance, government, individual, institution, Justice, Materialism, media, Money, moving forward, nature, Oak, Pressure, race, reflection, Religion, Ritchie, Society, soul, spirituality, steady flow, unity, yates.
Yes, my kids are mixed. They are growing up now in a community where there are many other mixed children. I wonder how this will affect them.
May 29, 2012 at 4:59 am
great post you guys! Oak, way to bring a very important topic to bear, and Yates, the personal angle really brought the danger of dichotomies to light in a very tangible way, along with bringing more exposure to the important topic of growing up multiracial. well done gents!
June 4, 2012 at 3:23 am
Thank you, brothaman! Tell me a little about your experience with a multi-cultural upbringing?
June 5, 2012 at 8:29 pm
Well, I am about as white as they come, so my family upbringing was only multi-cultural in the sense that my dad’s Canadian and my mother American, but those cultural differences are pretty negligible in this case. Hmm.. however, I did grow up in an inner-city multi-cultural Christian community as a child and after that in a community with a lot of ethnic diversity. Given that upbringing, and then being a member of the Baha’i community the last 7 years, I have been blessed to know a good number of friends who grew up in mixed-race and/or multi-cultural families. I think its an important topic because of its implications for the oneness of humanity, and the potential it carries for bridging cultural gaps and misunderstandings. This is vital if we are to achieve world peace. Also, from a practical standpoint it is becoming more and more common, so how much more so do we really need to embrace it for its own sake, and learn how to seize the opportunities it provides.
Any thoughts you might be inspired to share on this topic, whether from the abstract level or from experience?
June 7, 2012 at 3:33 am
Great piece. I, and my bride (who is black), really enjoyed Aaron’s candid interview. His transformation (into relaxing) underscores a point made by my fellow musician Alan James. Alan says: “We say “Unity in Diversity” but that’s backwards. In reality, Diversity thrives only in Unity. It’s only when you feel unified with, and accepted by others that you can stop “trying to fit in” and become who you really are.” (paraphrase)
I could wax poetically on this topic for hours.
June 11, 2012 at 2:11 am
Wax away, Darrell!
What ways have you practically engaged in bringing about “unity in diversity” rather than oppression into conformity in regards to your family and specifically your children?
June 20, 2012 at 9:01 pm
Oak, sorry for not responding sooner, I only just saw your question and invitation to write more.
Regarding my children, they are of my previous marriage, and their mother is white, so perhaps this is a different context than you were seeking. They are both grown now, but in their childhood, I tried to instill in them an appreciation for all cultures around us. We rarely made any issue of differences between their friends, but rather sought to to welcome and respect all who came to our home. Once I recall though, when they were quite young, two friends came to visit – one black, one white. My young kids seemed to be staring at them with a peculiar inquisitiveness on their faces. I thought perhaps it was because one was black. So I asked the older one, what is different about these two guys? She pointed to the black man and said “he’s so tall!”. A few leading questions convinced us all that this was the only difference she saw (the younger one was toddler and fascinated by everything). It later occurred to me that “surprise” plays more of a role than does “difference”. And as we engaged ourselves in meeting and welcoming to our home a variety of peoples of different nationalities, ethnicity, appearance, etc., the “surprise” factor began to fade into “familiarity”.
So on a simple, pragmatic level, I think familiarization with those different than ourselves, is a great gift we can give our children.
(“Consort with all men, O people of Baha, in a spirit of friendliness and fellowship.” (Baha’u'llah, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 12))
But there’s more to it. You used the phrase “oppression into conformity” as a counterpoint to “unity in diversity”. That seems melodramatic. As a parent, we learn that what to a child may seem like “oppression to conformity” is often really “instructions for courteous living”. I don’t see the two phrases as the bookends your usage implies.
Every culture has its own standards of behavior that members of society learn, in one way or another, and so, the society functions. When someone steps out of conformity, it creates tension. Tension often compels change. Change is often good, but the process leading to change is often bad.
And the whole definition of “culture” becomes blurry as people of diverse backgrounds intermarry and merge their cultural heritage in the lives of their children.
What we need is 1) a standard that can be applied to all cultures in a way that will highlight and celebrate admirable traits and help to transform, or eliminate if necessary, undesirable ones; and 2) a process for effecting change that preserves dignity and respect for all involved.
Baha’u'llah gives us the formula. Unity, He says, is achieved through Justice. (“The purpose of justice is the appearance of unity among men.” (Baha’u'llah, Tablets of Baha’u'llah, p. 66)) The “twin” of Justice is Equity. (“Justice and equity are twin Guardians that watch over men.” (Baha’u'llah, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 12))
When we deal with each other in a just and equitable manner, we are building unity. So that’s another thing to teach our children.
A person in a truly unified society has no fear of not “fitting in” because he or she feels surrounded by love. And they do not resent “conformance” or fear sameness for the same reason. True Unity, based on Justice and Equity, promotes diversity.
August 14, 2012 at 5:57 am
Nice! Some gems there, And I truly appreciate you sharing.
August 16, 2012 at 6:12 am
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