Celebrate diversity

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Jeffrey Neuberger
  • 92nd Air Refueling Wing chaplain
Someone has said we could learn a lot from crayons: some are sharp, some are pretty, some are dull, some have weird names, and all are different colors, but they all have to learn to live in the same box.

A box of crayons is a wonderful example of life on earth. I marvel every day at the extent of diversity around me. First of all is the fundamental diversity of humanity: gender, race and ethnicity, age. Further, people are different when it comes to their personality type, their likes and dislikes in everything from the vehicle they drive to the clothes they wear and the music enjoy. There's also the diversity of our planet. A drive west from Spokane to Seattle will reveal a remarkably diverse topography within a few miles.

Growing up in eastern South Dakota as I did, I was not exposed to a wide variety of racial or ethnic diversity. For example, I had never met or spoken to an African American until I entered the Navy at age 19. Since then, I have had the opportunity to travel extensively in my military career. As a result I have experienced many cultures, climates and people. Growing up in the Air Force has been good for my children as well, each of whom has experienced a wonderfully diverse environment. I'm convinced their Air Force experience has contributed to a healthy respect and appreciation for others and for life.

How do we determine and appreciate the value of diversity? To answer that question we must consider for a moment a world without diversity. What would the world be like if everyone was just like me? Can I say it: it would be a fairly boring place. Thankfully the opposite is true: the world is a very diverse place, leaving us unique opportunities to learn from each other.

I'm thankful for the diversity around me - in every way. There may be things I don't understand or agree with, but I am perpetually amazed at the talents, abilities and creativity of others which I don't possess. And I appreciate them.

Malcolm Forbes said "diversity is the art of thinking independently together." What a wonderful thought. Each of us has something unique to contribute to life on this planet because we are unique. Diversity is the one true thing we all have in common; let's celebrate it every day.