With the complete mapping of the human genome, we now know that genetically speaking, human beings are 99.97 per cent the same. Genetically, human differences are minuscule compared to human similarities. On the genetic level, we are alike. Yet on the social and cultural level, we are not. If we were, human evolution would stop, and our interpersonal relationships would be boring at best and constricted at worst. Shared individual differences are essential for expanding our “humanness.”
Without diverse individuals in relationship to one another, human life would be little more than biological stagnation.
Any human culture, whether it’s familial, organizational, societal, national or planetary, consists of “webs” of people bound to one another through trust, mutual need and compatible aspirations. Culture is based upon shared individual differences in knowledge, experience, skills, history, talents and dreams. Culture develops and grows when membership within it benefits everyone who lives or works within it, inevitably dissolves when those involved no longer benefit from being part of it, and crumbles when even a few powerful members no longer value human differences or appreciate diversity.
To value and appreciate the human differences in in others is essential. We have often said, “We learn more from others than we ever do from books or even formal education.”
Imagine how boring life would be if everyone were the same, how predictable life would be if all your friends and colleagues were exactly like you. Imagine how restricted your knowledge would be, if everyone else knew only what you knew.
Now imagine how rich your life experience would become if you were affected and influenced by the unique personalities of many people from divergent backgrounds. Imagine how satisfying your life might be if you had friends and clients and colleagues who called you from different countries, spoke different languages, and shared with you all of their unique differences.
(Adapted from an article by Thomas Leonard and Dr. Patrick Williams in Choice: The Magazine of Professional Coaching)