No man learned anything original from looking in a mirror.
With technology connecting our world more than ever before, we can access and connect with the diversity of the human experience with almost miraculous ease. How can it be that with all of this technology available to us, distinctions in perspective seem more disparate than ever. Social media proves over and over again how truly insulated our own viewpoints and prejudices can be. Conflicts great and small affirm our limited abilities to see beyond our own preconditions. Learning to maintain one’s personal convictions while respecting another’s singular perspective is a skill worth cultivating.
Nature offers a reliable source on how diversity is important to a species’ survival. Plants that self-fertilize are near guaranteed that they will be replaced the following year, but their children are essentially clones. The majority of plants, however, swap genetic material in reproduction, so that the next generation will be better than the last. Likewise, with humans, we benefit greatly from diversity. It allows us to develop an array of knowledge and skills that not only help us survive, but have contributed greatly to the value and quality of our lives. Each of us is gifted with different innate abilities and unique life experiences, and technology has the potential to reach into the world’s diversity no longer limiting us to the knowledge of our own cultures.
Man does not live off technology alone, however, and it can never replace the deeper wisdom of real life experience that teaches us what is true for us as individuals.
My journey has been plentiful in special moments, with irreplaceable people from many walks of life. I have been fortunate enough to see more of the world than many people ever see in their entire lives. My travels have taught firsthand that not everyone lives and believes as I do, and I’ve come to respect that reality. Actually, I have learned more about myself when I engaged with people whose ideas, beliefs, and lifestyles differed from my own—I grew as a person.
This thirst to better myself through “learning to live” and “living to learn” even led me to attend college at a university outside of my own faith base. While some worry that mingling with ideas outside their own beliefs is dangerous, I have always found the challenge to hone and clarify my faith. I walk away better informed, more understanding, and more confident in the differences that had at first seemed strange or confusing.
These fresh perspectives and lessons learned provided clarity to my journey and helped me to appreciate the sacred beauty in all people.
Yes, no one ever learned anything original from a mirror. Leaving the safety of my own zeitgeist has been an adventure for sure, at times surprising, but always spiritually and artistically expanding. Learning to celebrate and honor diversity has been a discipline that has been good for me, and the many roads I have been privileged to travel has made the journey home all the more rewarding.