“Peace is not unity in similarity but unity in diversity, in the comparison and conciliation of differences.”
Diversity is all around us – literally. From the food we eat, the languages we speak, and the traditions we hold near to our hearts, diversity is bustling in and around our everyday lives. Ontario itself has an abundance of different cultures that help to make our communities one of a kind. Diversity doesn’t stop at our beliefs and values though. In fact, diversity is much more than our heritage and upbringing.
Our DNA makes us diverse and our life experiences compound on genetics to create our own unique personalities. Just like no two snowflakes are exactly the same, each of us is unique in our own way – something your child is figuring out on a deeper level day after day. Some people are born with physical disabilities, some are both with mental disabilities, and some are born with both or none. Some people are excellent at math while others may consider themselves wordsmiths. What sparks your passion may seem dull to others. It’s these unique traits that all come together to contribute to our one-of-a-kind selves, which then forms communities that are brimming with diversity. Understanding, identifying, and celebrating each person’s diversity allows us to find all of the puzzle pieces we need to work together in harmony. As adults, it’s our job to help children be comfortable with diversity and find the beauty in what makes us different.
Diversity can be especially prevalent during this time of year. It’s natural for your children to have many questions. Don’t shy away from these inquiries. Instead, encourage their curiosity and take advantage of the teachable moment.
While Santa may visit your house, your neighbors may be spinning a dreidel or not participating in any festivities at all. Maybe they celebrated Eid or maybe they’re celebrating the winter solstice. As your children learn more about these holidays and traditions, they’ll likely find common themes that your family holds near to your hearts as well. Encourage your children to ask their friends and neighbors about the different holidays and traditions that they practice. Books can also be a wealth of information for children to explore diversity of all kinds
As an adult, it’s very important for us to be mindful of our choice of words. Rather than saying one belief is right and another is wrong, use words like, “We believe…” This phrase implies that it’s okay to have different beliefs while also promoting the respect of others.
Our differences allow us the opportunity to create culturally rich experiences that promote compassion, foster inclusion, and help us to have a better understanding of differences that can influence major decisions in the world around us. Celebrating our differences as well as our commonalities allows us to overcome stereotypes, reduce racism, and encourage unity – all of which help us to become better friends, neighbors, community members, and better versions of ourselves. This all lends itself to a better world for us now and for future generations.