In elementary school I had a classmate who often had lice, smelled like smoke, and ate as much as he could at school because he didn't have much at home. One year he invited everyone in my class to his birthday party. Some of my classmates stated they were not going which left me on the fence on whether I wanted to attend. I went home and told my mother about the party. She talked with me about my friends not going and the concerns that were present in that home. During the discussion my mother insisted that I attend because it was the right thing to do. My mother made sure there was supervision and took me on the day of the party.
I arrived at the smoky, run down house, finding only one other classmate who had come. The three of us stood next to end tables layered with used lottery cards and an old gaming system because every seat was piled high with objects. As we waited for others to show, I could see the disappointment on my classmate's face when he realized only two of us were coming. At that moment I knew why this was the right thing to do. I realized that my presence by just showing up created value for someone else. We all sat on the floor and began playing video games which we did most of the afternoon. We eventually ate cake and ice cream before it was time to go. My classmate smiled and thanked us for coming. From this experience I learned the importance of valuing other people despite circumstances and factors that are different than my own.
Everyone needs to be shown they have worth. It may happen through openly listening to them, giving them a hug, or even showing up to a birthday party.
We are all different people with diverse backgrounds and experiences. Many times our fears stop our ability to love. However when we embrace diversity we embrace the beauty of creation.
Let's look a little bit closer at Human Diversity and what it means for our own personal and spiritual development.
Affirmation of Human Diversity
In 1992 a World Conference Resolution was passed to provide an Affirmation of Human Diversity. I wanted to share this beautifully written statement with you. I believe this statement personifies the direction the Community of Christ has taken the last 26 years.
"The gospel of Jesus Christ reveals the unqualified love of God and the inestimable worth of all people. An awareness of God’s love and of the love of others is essential to human fulfillment. For these reasons, we celebrate the rich diversity of human life.
However, human beings often fear, hate, and abuse each other because of ignorance about such factors as socioeconomic status, culture, race, gender, age, size, sexual orientation, and mental or physical disability. Such prejudicial behavior undermines the personal and spiritual development of both abuser and abused and denies the mutual benefits of shared giftedness.
As people of faith, we confess our own imperfections in attitude and action. Nevertheless, we accept the responsibility to resist fear and hate in all forms and to strive continuously to eliminate expressions of prejudice and discrimination.
We declare our belief that “all are called according to the gifts of God to them.” We therefore acknowledge and affirm human diversity by creating a spirit of openness and peace within our congregations where all people may find acceptance and the opportunity to share their giftedness.
We commit ourselves to work with all people of goodwill to promote mutual respect, appreciation, and peace in all relationships."
What would it mean for you to commit to this statement?
What changes would you need to make?
Definitions of Diversity?
It seems there is a difference between what Millennials and Baby Boomers see as diversity. The article "Millennials have a Different Definition of Diversity and Inclusion" by Lydia Dishman describes this. It appears Baby Boomers see diversity as the right thing to do for equality purposes while Millennials see it as necessary to be successful. So what does diversity mean to you? Is it one or the other, something different, or possibly both. If you want to read up on how diverse companies see more financial success look at this article titled "Why Diversity Matters."
Diversity Grows Spirituality
Factors such as socioeconomic status, culture, race, gender, age, size, sexual orientation, and mental or physical disability have a lot to teach us if we are willing to listen. Hearing from others with these unique perspectives can prompt self-examination and reflection, ultimately deepening our own spirituality.
Diverse voices give us a broader perspective on who God is in this world instead of who he is in mine. This can sometimes challenge our theological idea of who God is. We might ask ourselves why do I believe what I believe now that I know this? All of these questions can deepen our faith and spirituality because we are openly seeking answers.
Exploring other religious experiences or expressions can also be rewarding. We become exposed to traditions and practices that are unfamiliar and sometimes uncomfortable to us. However the process is usually rich and authentic. It can help us gain appreciation for the vast differences in religious/ spiritual expression and specifically in our own. This does not mean we have to change our personal beliefs or adopt a variety of perspectives. It just means we respect others decisions and expressions. This process of showing respect and kindness to other spiritual expressions and experience is called spiritual diversity.
Let yourself welcome diversity into your life! Embrace it and open yourself up to what it has to teach you.
Make sure to follow us on Instagram and Twitter so you get all of our new posts! This week listen to someone who is different than you.
The views expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of Community of Christ. We believe individuals should be allowed to have their own opinions and be at different places in their faith journey.
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Community of Christ
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