top of page

I like being different from you.

The other day, one of my lecturers said to us, “Differences do not exist for the purpose of deeming one party on this side of a divide superior to the party on the other side. Differences exist because variety is good, because diversity makes the world a beautiful place.” She then walked up to me and said, “I am white; you are black. What does that insinuate?”

“That you are white and I am black.”

“Good. Does it in any way imply that I am inherently superior to you?”

“Well, in an ideal world, no it should not. But we do not live in an ideal world. And to someone who has been conditioned to think that way, it might,” I replied.

“Precisely. Very good.” She then walked over to another guy and said, “I am a woman; you are a man. Does that mean you are superior to me?”

“No, it just means that you are a woman, and I am a man,” he said

“Exactly,” she continued, returning to the front of the lecture room, a stern look in her eyes, “That’s what dissimilarities should imply. That is all they should connote: that you and I are different from one another. If ever there is a case in which superiority becomes the subject of discussion when having conversations pertaining to two sides of a divide, then that is a direct reflection of our thinking, it shows our now almost inherent conditioning as a society to repudiate the fact that dissimilarity should not automatically mean better and worse than. But we do not live in an ideal world. We live in a world that sets standards and etiquette and abhors and devalues anything and/or anyone that dares to go against it, even involuntarily. A bleak world is what we wish for.”

Sat in the back of the class, listening to her monologue, it dawned on me how we really are a society that has a distaste for dissimilarities, how whenever there are two sides divided by any factor, there are always discrepancies in how they are treated, how one side HAS to be better than the other. I mean, look around; look how many divides have been born out of all the differences among us, some of which we have no control over: Sex and gender, race (and within race, color), religion, weight and size, hometown, political affiliation, preference, opinion, taste in music, dress sense, diet…everything. We have taken every single dissimilarity and built a better than and worse side, a side superior to the other. We abhor dissimilarity, and we are conditioned to think that our side of the divide is better than the other, to think that our side is and should be superior.

Imagine how much bleaker the world would be if God had decided that blue would be the only color, dogs the only animal, eagles the only birds, roses the only flowers and either women or men the only sex. That is the world you are proposing, a world in which variety and diversity are inexistent. What we are all effectively saying is we’d rather have the world be the way we are. And I honestly do not want to live nor would I like to bring a child into a world like that. At creation, God created a miscellany of everything because he understood and still understands the value of diversity, the value of having different things in one space. And it always amazes me how we, as human beings, feel that we cannot co-exist with anyone who is dissimilar to us in any way unless one of us is deemed better.

It should be okay that we are different. It should be okay to be different without anyone having to feel inferior. It should be okay that I am a Christian and you are a Muslim. It should be okay that I am black and you are white. It should be okay that I am a man and you are a woman. It should be okay that I am skinny and you aren’t. It should be okay that I am 5ft8’ (5ft9’ in my Airforce 1s) and you are 6ft3. It should be okay that I like my chicken and you prefer to eat veggies. It should be okay that I like rap music and you think it’s nonsensical. It should be okay that I think football is the most beautiful game, and all you see is 22 men kicking a ball around. It really should be okay that we are different from one another, that we enjoy different things. It doesn’t mean either of us is better. It just means we are different. And that’s it. I love people being different from me. I love that people can see the world from a point of view dissimilar to mine, that every now and then, I can be dragged into someone else's different world to sneak a peek; and I can bring people into mine as well. It’s a reminder that so much more exists outside of what I know, that I expand my horizons become limitless when I allow other people to have their own view of the world and life. I love variety because it makes the world vibrant, it makes the world colorful and beautiful. We should all love it. We should all be okay with it existing without making a whole thing about who is better and who isn’t or who is right and who is wrong.

Now, none of this is to say that we aren’t allowed to have preferences. We are. We should. In fact, it is imperative that you know what you prefer and what you do not. That’s your filter. The problem starts when you set your preferences as a standard to which everyone else must live up. Your preferences are not a standard and no one is obliged to adhere to them. And no one is any less valuable just because they aren’t what you prefer. The problem starts when you want people to feel bad about themselves for either having different taste to yours or not being your predilection. Okay, say you like tall men. That is completely fine. But the moment you begin to slate "short" lads, you are overstepping. Dark-skinned women are not any less beautiful just because you prefer light-skinned ones. My enjoying a genre of music that you do not does not mean that I have bad taste, nor does your liking a blue shirt when I like white one. Your preferences are not standards. They are not a bar with which other people's value is to be measured. They are just your preferences.

One of my closest friends is someone who is very, very different from me. And on first glance, you’d probably wonder why we get along so well. I did too. And so the other day, I said to her, “Chichi, how do we get along this well despite being so different, despite being almost polar opposites?”

“Because we respect each other’s differences,” she said, “You are okay with me being whatever I am, and I am okay with you being whatever you are.”

“Well, then,” I replied, “I like being different from you.”

bottom of page