Coffee + Heart

Melbourne – Monday, June 13 – 08.08

GUEST POST

Reflection and photos by Machine.Gun.Meow (mGm)
Facebook: Machine Gun Meow Twitter: @MachineGunMeow
Instagram: @machingunmeow

Growing up in Nairobi, as a girl of Indian heritage, diversity has shaped my worldview. I have been in a nostalgic mood of late and, given recent tragic events, SB asked me to share my morning reflection with you.

While watching The Revenant last night, I noticed the treatment of the Native Americans in the film. I said to Mr. Meow that it is unfathomable that we, as a human race, seek to hate others based on differences.

Filtered

We could go to land’s end and the hate would find us because there is always something that distinguishes one person from the other. What is more unbelievable is that the situation has changed little in the two hundred years since the film’s setting. Simply put, the hate stems from a sense of righteousness or superiority, whether you blame it on religion, ‘science’, politics or custom. I feel we must find a higher order of being instead of looking for problems where none exist.

Mixed bowl

At the moment, I am writing a fantasy fiction novel. In it, I explore the idea of diversity. The questions I contemplate are, “What is the alternative to diversity? Is it uniformity or conformity?” I wonder, is that the kind of world we want? Are we better off being cookie-cutter images of each other? Is that what would encourage acceptance?

Reflection

If the defilers of diversity were confronted with the alternatives, would they reconsider their position? This is wishful. I concede I have no solutions.

 

187 thoughts on “Coffee + Heart

  1. A uniform world will be such a boring place to live in! Diversity makes our lives interesting, and yet the feeling of ethnocentrism among communities prevent people from understanding the values, beliefs and perspectives of others, and we end up hating each other when it is simply not needed.

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    1. I’m learning that prejudices are internalised. People protest to the end of the Earth that they’re all about equality and openness but their actions show otherwise. Some of these people will tell you that their avoidance of individuals based on race, culture, nationality and religion is all about “preference”.

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  2. Great reflection and questions. I don’t think we’ve changed much since our millions of years as cave-dwellers. We are territorial, tribe-centered, fighting over resources, hoarding what we have for the long winters, aggressive, geared to fight or flight. Civilization (if we even think we have achieved it) isn’t that old. So, give us another 100 million years and I think we’ll be good.:-)

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    1. Great to have your thoughts on this post, Diana. Another 100 million years. I like that idea and agree totally, that we are not there yet. We might live in a technocracy but still a lot of us are just grown preschoolers, hoarding toys and picking on our classmates.

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  3. Interesting how explorers moving east and west historically have done so one, to find new land and routes for trade and two, to conquer. In this exploration, diversity was discovered. Yet, to conquer only elevated the fears of those who did the conquering. What happens when fear is elevated. Usually the outcome is not good. Thus, there is a segment of history where people migrated in hopes of escaping societies challenges only to find new ones. If only explorers searched and embraced diversity. We have a lot of catching up to do.

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    1. I agree and understand the idea of migrating to escape challenges. It’s been said many times but no one listens – the grass is the same on the other side of the fence. We need more acceptance and less exploration for the sake of glory.

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  4. I’ve lived outside the box all my life
    I have never play the game by the rules
    Yes in some cases you have no choice
    Still when it comes to others I will
    Give you the benefit of the doubt
    And ask questions later
    I am always glad to show my hand
    if you are willing to take hold
    As always Sheldon

    Liked by 3 people

  5. hi, great post. i would say though that while there are all these stories in the news and recent history. i think that its fair to say that the world at large shaped up. bigotry and racisim are very far and dramatically lower than two centuries ago. i think. so lets be happy that we slowly, finally learning to be human. even if it took so long,…
    not saying it’s all better obviously long way to go still…

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    1. We have a far way to go and I feel that the best way forward is to stamp out the small fires when they crop up. If we never put up with it even when it presents itself in small portions, we might force the intellectual reframing necessary to bring about progress. Thank you for reading and leaving this thoughtful comment. xo

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  6. I personally believe that most hate is driven by fear and ignorance. Two things which can certainly be fixed.
    I’m a glass half full kind of person, most of the time ; )
    Thanks for this thoughtful post!

    Meno

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  7. I think human beings feel both drives, both deep, competing psychological needs: on the one hand, being unique individuals and finding acceptance, love and respect as such; on the other hand, belonging and being fundamentally like their fellow humans, fitting in, being “normal” and sharing all fundamental traits with the other members of their community and society. When the second need takes over, racism and hate arise.

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    1. That’s an interesting perspective. Thank you for joining the discussion. It might be true that hate and discrimination may mask deep personal insecurities. I don’t believe people are born like this but it is hard to empathise, especially when one is on the receiving end of a mandate to segregate. An equally undemocratic response would be to eradicate the concept of “races” altogether. I am not sure if that will help, however. Nothing might help.

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      1. Well, I am not trying to empathize; rather, I am trying to understand. Psychological research suggests that we are characterized by these two competing drives, namely being unique individuals and belonging to a shared community. Of course, we are not all characterized in equal measure by these drives: Some people are more individualistic, while others are more gregarious, so to speak. Each individual’s specific balance, or tendency, is likely to be determined partly by their innate personality traits, and partly by the environment and culture in which they grew up (which can me more or less individualistic vs. collectivistic). So, in a sense, we as individuals are already more or less open vs. closed toward racial and cultural diversity to begin with. Then one should, in my view, factor in the social and historical circumstances in which the individual is currently living. We are now living in an era or fast change and globalization, where local communities are losing their meaning and, in many cases, being disintegrated. This is likely to be at least a little unsettling for most people. At times, even I — a rather cosmopolitan, progressive, and liberal woman of 37 — find myself secretly longing for the reassuring “way things used to be” during my childhood and adolescence in the 80’s and 90’s, when my hometown was small and homogeneous, everybody knew everybody else, all our families originated from the same areas and were more or less interconnected, we all spoke and understood the same local dialect, and shared the same cultural heritage. I then swiftly proceed to inhibit and counter these thoughts, but I cannot completely prevent them from popping up in my mind, from time to time. The reason they keep popping up is probably that today’s fast-changing and increasingly complex world does not fulfill our need for social belonging in the traditional ways we have grown accustomed to, while many of us have not yet found new ways and coping strategies to fulfill the same need in a modern and inclusive way. Our mind, in fact, evolves much more slowly than society, especially today. That is why, in my opinion, nationalism and sectarianism are on the rise almost everywhere in the world: They offer a sense of belonging in a world that is undergoing deep transformations. I am not saying one should empathize with that, but I feel that looking at reality straight in the eyes, however unpleasant that may be, is necessary in order to fix any social problems. Others favor a more principled and less pragmatist approach than mine, however… 🙂 I am not sure which one is the better approach. Only time will tell… I wish you a lovely day.

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      2. Thank you for offering a measured and balanced opinion. It is refreshing to see someone argue both sides and not at the same time call for annihilation of one segment or other. I am a nomad by nature and yet a part of me wants to be settled. I find myself withdrawing from social interaction as I find them to be stressful. As an introvert, being alone is not the worst thing in the world so I don’t necessarily crave company; rather, I would like to feel that what I am doing makes a difference. If I had a tribe of people who understood me, I am sure I would spend a lot of time around them.

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      3. Thanks for sharing your viewpoints, Giulia.
        I don’t believe the need to belong to a common group is mutually exclusive to shunning all others. The two can coexist but this requires a higher maturity of our social self. Homogeneity had its place in a different era. It still exists, but we must recognise that it looks different.
        Have a great day!

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Perhaps come back and read through your first comment, and my responses as well as yours to get a full picture? There was a very long pause between your first comment, my answer and your subsequent response on Saturday. Warm wishes.

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      5. Sabiscuit, I cannot not understand exactly what “machinegunmeow” wrote in response to me… By the way, I sincerely hope you are not presuming to teach me how to read and interpret a discussion! ;-)) Because, if it were the case, that would be slightly patronizing, would it not!? Cheers. 🙂

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      6. Thanks for responding, Giulia. No offense was meant whatsoever. Please accept my apologies for the misunderstanding. I was trying to be helpful. I had a mountain of comment notifications and was trying to get through them all. I wanted to acknowledge your comment until mGm came round to respond to you. Warm regards.

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      7. Dear Sabiscuit, it is not you who should apologize, but I. In fact, I am sincerely sorry for my snappy tone, which originated from an unfortunate misunderstanding. The reason why I could not understand what mGm wrote to me is two-pronged: Firstly, it is not 100% clear to me how, precisely, her response relates to what I wrote (I can see a very general relationship, but not a stringent one, and mGm almost seems to be arguing with a strawman by countering statements I never made), and, secondly, she seems to confuse my analysis of how I (most fallibly) think things actually are with how she thinks they should be… Also, I do not understand what she means, exactly, by “maturity of one’s social self”… What makes our social self mature? What does that mean to her? All in all, I do not find it to be a very clear response, but such lack of clarity could be caused by my intellectual limitations, so I was hoping for a clarification. ;-)) I wish you a lovely day and sorry again, most humbly and sincerely.

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  8. I honestly believe that each race should govern themselves and set up their own standards for their own people. I have always felt that way because who can understand a fellow Native American better than another Native American? All through history, people have been separating themselves into smaller and smaller cultures/subcultures where only the most extreme of the extremists are welcome with open arms.

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    1. Perhaps you would like to give me an example of the small communities and sub cultures you’ve referenced in your comment?
      What about individuals of mixed race – Are you suggesting that in future, people of different races should not mate and reproduce?

      What should we do about the mixed race individuals extant? I am curious because I fall into that category.

      I think the view about “fellow native Americans” is simplistic. There are people who do not fit well into their own cultural boxes. I believe we gain more by interacting with each other and by sharing what we know.

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      1. I was making a severe generalization; it would be a place to start. I do not have all the answers. As far as subcultures go, there is a subculture devoted entirely to BDSM and they have shows/parties, etc. There are also people in this world who adopt fictional cultures and try to live them out as well; like the Gorean culture, etc.

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    2. Splitting into sub cultures goes against the grain of embracing diversity doesn’t it?
      I don’t think it’s fair to say only those of a particular culture can understand each other. That’s burying our heads in the sand.
      Just because some individuals have no appreciation or tolerance for differences doesn’t necessarily mean this holds true for everyone.
      We need to have open arms for everyone.

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      1. There is, in my opinion, no such thing as mild racism. When someone comes up to me and says, “eliminate yourself because you don’t fit into my theory of an ideal world,” and then asserts that with, “I’m entitled to this opinion under the Constitution,” I really must give up. People who carry loaded guns into an airport are considered a threat. If we follow that train of thought to its logical conclusion, many of the people proposing it would not survive for very long. Harbouring these retrogressive thoughts is similar in tone. That’s why it’s important to ask questions when confronted with that mindset and insist on full justification.

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      2. I completely agree SB!
        I also think that being provided an explanation also helps us understand where this behaviour stems from and hopefully be able to nip it in the bud if it is hateful and harmful because there really is no room for it.

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  9. Diversity –whether of ethnicity or philosophy or whatever– not only lessens the boredom of possibilities, but it offers us at chance of at least learning new stuff. If we could just all get along.

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  10. I have never understood it either. Oh boy how dull and boring that would be if we were all cookie-cutters, ugh. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to embrace our differences and learn new things from each other, rather than turn away and ridicule them. What a shame and sad loss for those who do exactly that! Thought inspiring post, thank you!!

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  11. I am a white female with English and French heritage. Growing up, I felt the typical junior high female issues such as ‘too tall,’ ‘too fat,’ ‘four eyes,’ ‘wrong outfit,’ and ‘bad haircut,’ to name a few. Then I spent the middle years just surfing along with everyone else. Now, I am pigeonholed into the ‘senior citizen’ group and have found an entire new issue – invisibility. This latest situation in Florida points out that we haven’t progressed very much in our understanding or acceptance of our differences. I sincerely hope we ‘grow up’ one day as a society.

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    1. You have a great cultural heritage (I grew up studying both) and I am sure that through your lovely blog, you’re able to reach many interesting people. You’re not coasting along at the moment and I think we should not as long as there is something that we want to raise awareness about. As you point out, not because we’re native to our culture doesn’t mean that we’re going to be free of issues. There is always going to be “something” different. Thank you for contributing to the discussion, Judy. xo

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      1. Isn’t it so sad that we feel we must ‘label’ everything?!?!
        It’s a good thing when we want 50 shades of red nail polish. But people are not bottles of coloured paint. We shouldn’t have to fit in or stand out or coast along or lie low.
        But as SB rightly points out, there will always be something to throw a cat amongst the pigeons.

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    2. Isn’t it so sad that we feel we must ‘label’ everything?!?!
      It’s a good thing when we want 50 shades of red nail polish. But people are not bottles of coloured paint. We shouldn’t have to fit in or stand out or coast along or lie low.
      But as SB rightly points out, there will always be something to throw a cat amongst the pigeons.

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  12. “We could go to land’s end and the hate would find us because there is always something that distinguishes one person from the other.” – This sentence broke my heart. You write wonderfully.

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  13. It is our diversity that makes us interesting, beautiful. If we were all the same… wouldn’t the world be a little boring? I wish that people weren’t hated, persecuted simply because they are different, but unfortunately that is the world we live in. The laws that are created to protect us are biased, and the people that are deemed with the responsibility of upholding that law are too. Not sure things will ever change, but we have to make the best of the world we live in, circumstances aside.

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    1. Good points about biased laws and lawmakers. We don’t see the bias until we fall out of the statistically norm or parameters defined by social consensus. I’ve seen this in so many cultures.

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    2. If diversity is a flaw, then everyone and everything is flawed. The Japanese celebrate flaws (wabi-sabi) out of an appreciation of the fact that this is what makes it beautiful. In fact, they make it more beautiful by highlighting the ‘flaws’ with gold (kintsugi). Wouldn’t it be just wonderful to celebrate each other in this way? We might not even need laws.

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  14. I’d like to read the fiction novel lol. When it comes to diversity, I don’t know if there can be an alternative. The world is diverse, even the people who would disagree or take advantage of it are a part of it lol. Maybe in the future, I’ll be proven wrong, but I’d say that’ll probably be the day when the world is very lonely haha.

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