I have been lucky enough to spend a good part of the British winter in warmer climes. I walked almost unconsciously into a foreign culture quite unprepared to ‘integrate’ or make any other concession. I was immediately struck by the welcome and kindness of the Thai people and realized for once that it was me that was different,
Recognising ‘my difference’ is hard to do. I am so used to being the one looking out at others, making judgments and I very seldom if ever, think about how I appear to others. We are, like everyone else, the center of our own worlds. We tend to judge everything from the perspective of our own existence and experience.
Hence if you are rich you find it difficult to appreciate the problems of poverty, if you are white you find it impossible to imagine being black. All we can do is empathise as best we can. We have to want to understand what makes others tick though few of us do.
This lack of natural empathy is exemplified by the Rhodes issue at Oxford. Some see the history of Imperial Britain as an ambitious exploration that brought progress to the empire and the world at large. Others see the history of Britain built on slavery and thus created wealth on the backs of enslaved nations.
It is not long since the Christian missionaries of Europe tortured and killed in the name of Christianity. Today we have factions of various religions that have zealots and extremists who have lost sight entirely of their true religious roots. They are plainly evil but see themselves as soldiers of their perverted causes.
All these evils are brought about by our natural resistance to see ourselves as others see us. In truth our diversity is wondrous and we have a collection of talents that could make this world a happier place. If only we could look inward and see ourselves as others see us . Diversity then would flourish as the greatest gift of mankind.