Monday, May 14, 2007
Comedian George Carlin said, “You know what we need – black Jello.” Think of the fun you could have if you served black Jello for dessert one evening! Something totally unexpected can add a special brightness to a day. In fact, as human beings, even though we seem to fight change, we also seem to expect and even want difference sometimes.
Each year, fashion designers struggle to come up with new and unexpected clothing designs. The runways are full of models wearing unique outfits each season. If a particular designer sticks too much to the tried and true, he or she is bashed in the fashion press.
For people fortunate to be able to afford a new car, different designs and a selection of many options and features are expected. We want to experience the OnStar lady talking to us. We want GIS systems to guide us to our destinations. Often we measure our level of success by the differences in our vehicles (think Hummer).
Even our schools embrace difference as long as it is coupled with fun. Remember Spirit Week in School? As the end of the school year and exams approach, school principals allow students to have fun with what they wear to school. There is Twin Day when two students can dress alike, Pajama Day when students get to wear their PJs to class, and Crazy Day when different colored shoes, plaids and stripes, and underwear worn on the outside of jeans show up. The students look forward all year to their Spirit Weeks.
As adults, we take vacations each year to break up the monotony of our work lives. We need something different whether it is a trip to a ski lodge, the beach, or just a week at home doing nothing. Our sanity often depends upon our throwing out the ordinary in anticipation of the non-routine, unexpected joys to be found on vacation.
In every part of our lives we seem to relish the unexpected, the joy of difference, the new, the unusual, the diversity of change – every part, that is, except our acceptance of people who are different, unique and diverse.
Why do we avert our eyes when we see someone who has both eyes closed as they walk because they are blind? Why do we cut a wide swath around a person who has cerebral palsy and walks a little crookedly? Why do we stare at an adult in a restaurant who has to have help cutting his meat because he has very limited use of his arms and hands? Why do we refuse to have a child with significant disabilities in the same classroom as her same-age peers without disabilities? Why do we lock away people who are different and say it is for their well being? We do it because we are hypocrites.
As long as change and difference are comfortable and fun, we have no problem embracing them. Differences in people make us uncomfortable, and God forbid any of us should be uncomfortable.
I am grateful for the people who don’t mind being initially uncomfortable only to find the beauty and joy in diversity. I am grateful for those who embrace difference and find the fun in it. I am grateful for the people who would eat black Jello…