Delighting in Diversity
People who are diversity friendly see people’s uniqueness and are accepting, respectful and non judgmental.
Stereotyping is the biggest hindrance to diversity. A stereotype I held strongly, without even consciously realizing it, was that most people with physical disabilities are incompetent, unintelligent and don’t have dreams or goals.
Allowing people to be who and how they are without feeling judgmental toward them is the goal of diversity. In the next few posts, we’ll cover the five A’s (Awareness, Accepting, Appreciating, Affection and Allowing) of diversity. Once we have climbed the staircase to Allowing, where we have a firm foundation in diversity, we’ll have covered diversity, we’ll have hopefully mastered diversity and we’ll be done.
The stage was set for dismantling my stereotype of PWD when my motorcycle slammed into a pickup truck that came through a stop sign, right in my path. I never even saw him. My bike hit the truck and stopped dead. I shot over the handlebars like I’d been fired from a circus cannon. My face and helmet slammed into the truck. My helmet cracked. My face bones broke. My limp body crumpled to the pavement. Somebody called 911. This was the beginning of my plunge into a culture nobody chooses to be part of.
As the ambulance keeping me alive sped toward HH, a routine operation about to begin was put aside and the room prepped for emergency surgery.
Nothing was unusual about a ringing phone just after dinner on a weeknight. Mom cheerfully picks it up, “Hello”.
My fiance Cheryl cried on the other end, “Al has been in a Motorcycle accident. They’re taking him to Harborview Hospital. As a nurse, Mom knew the implications. Fear gripped her heart.
My parents have always gained HOPE from their strong faith in God. They held each other as they prayed for His healing power to wrap me in a stronger than death embrace.
HAVE YOU EVER ASKED YOUR HIGHER POWER FOR HELP GETTING THROUGH A TOUGH SITUATION?
Different religions have different ways of praying. Some prayer postures are more interesting than others, just like some gods are more interesting than others. Personally I think the most important thing any religion, God or god teaches about diversity is to “Love your neighbor as yourself.” IOW, have respect and kindness for everyone.
My parents arrived at the hospital and were shown to the waiting room, minutes ticked into hours; hours ticked by, more hours ticked by. Finally one of the surgeons came out of the OR and called my mom to his office.
Even if he lives, he’ll be different.
He has a brain stem contusion, a ruptured hypothalamus, a ruptured spleen, broken facial bones and massive internal hemorrhaging.
Physically, mentally, emotionally he’ll never be the same.
I went from being like everybody around me to being different than everybody around me, talk about a rough intro to diversity.
Up to this point, I’d only been aware of one culture, my culture. Of course I’d known there were others, but they never seemed to matter. My crash changed all that. I didn’t fit into my culture anymore. I was forced to notice other people, other cultures, who were different than me. Awareness is the first step to being comfortable with diversity. Successful organizations combine their skills, experiences, and ideas while still valuing each other as individuals.
The surgeon telling me I’d never walk or talk or drive plunged me into an uncomfortable culture nobody wants to be part of. Diversity Tension stared into my face. How would I respond. How does anyone respond to waking up in a culture they didn’t choose?