When I saw the theme of this boxset, I found myself intrigued. So, I applied.
The Theme? Diversity.
Now, Diversity means different things to different people. I’m a red-headed, pale-skinned Aussie. My heritage is about as British as it gets. But I also went to a selective school, as did the majority of my friends over the years. To me, in many ways, diversity was the norm. Sure, there were more white kids in my year at school than most other groups. About thirty of us in a class of a hundred and twenty. But there were also thirty second-generation Chinese, a dozen kids from the Middle East. People who identified as Greeks, Russians, Lebanese, German, Italian, Indian and Pakistani (Those two groups did not get along), South American, East European, or European in general rounded out the numbers.
In many ways, the only diversity of background the school lacked was African-American and native Aboriginal. The last, considering the country, indicating a failure in the system somewhere. To be honest, African Americans and Africans, in general, are so rare in Australia that a school of 720 not having a single one was not particularly surprising.
Looking back, the school lost something from the lack of an Aboriginal perspective. Even though our history teacher was brutally honest with how poorly they had been treated over the two and a bit centuries since colonization I simply did not understand. Not until I was older and had friends from that background.
But the core concept of the Boxset also matched my Mongrelverse – That there is something to be found in all mythologies. That if any have some truth, all must have some truth.
This equality of culture can only lead to better understanding, I believe. Every culture has traits, beliefs and other attributes that add to Australia (and the world) as a whole. The different ways we prepare our foods is only the least example of the benefits of cultural exchange. Collaborations of scientists from different cultures challenge assumptions, leading to a faster advance in technology.
But Diversity has its risks. I know that first hand. When I repudiated Christianity in high school, I alienated ninety percent of the student body and about half the teaching staff (although, strangely enough, not the religious studies teacher. A good man and a Baptist minister, he wanted me to find spirituality even if it wasn’t Christianity.) I was a Wiccan through most of the rest of high school but found true belief in the principles of Norse Paganism (ASATRU, or Heathenry, as it is sometimes called).
The people who would divide us focus on small groups. Causing harm to those least able to defend themselves in our societies. Bullying them. I have been a victim of their kind, but I will not stand idly by while others become victims.
These are people that complain about how some people discuss diversity. Some people hate diversity. This is not restricted to any one ‘group’.
They could be next door. They could be in your classroom. You probably pass them in the supermarket. You may well have them as friends and not know or realize it.
They have one thing in common, even if they do not know it.
All of this hate comes from one core, fear.
These people fear the different.
Not just people who look different. People who think differently. People who hold an opinion in opposition to the one you hold. Now, instead of being respected despite disagreeing with you on an issue, become loathed as heretics.
It has reached the point that the issue can be anything from cheese toasties are tasty vs. cheese toasties are foul on up. (I love cheese toasties, especially with ham, personally, but I can respect that some people just don’t like them.)
Worse, the fear is becoming a reflex across society. We are force-fed fear from all media, every day. Fear sells. It keeps people engaged. So, they have inserted a fear of dissenting voices.
Someone having a differing opinion, religion, skin color, heritage, or language is not a cause for fear. As long as they follow the Franklin statement “Your right to wave your fist ends at my nose!” there is nothing to fear from them, either.
We need to replace the fear of any dissent with respect for non-violent dissent. If violence is involved over what is often a difference of opinion then fear, condemnation, and even a level of hate for the violent individuals is a healthy response.
We need to respect the different. We need to encourage everyone to respect it on a level that has not been found in any society I have encountered in studying around three thousand years of history.
We need to reduce the fear before we can remove the hate.
Paul C Middleton.