When we hear the word diversity, we typically think of racial and gender differences. But there is so much more to it, including differences in physical features, dress, language, wealth, family, religious beliefs, lifestyle, education, interests, skills, age, style and on and on.
The world is fast becoming a great melting pot of cultures, races, religions, and ideas. Since this diversity around you is ever increasing, you've got an important decision to make regarding how you're going to handle it. There are three possible approaches you can take:
Level 1: Shun diversity
Level 2: Tolerate diversity
Level 3: Celebrate diversity
Shunners are afraid (sometimes even scared to death) of differences. It disturbs them that someone may have a different skin colour, worship a different God, or wear a different brand of jeans than they do, because they're convinced their way of life is the "best," "right," or "only" way. They enjoy ridiculing those who are different, all the while believing that they are saving the world from some terrible pestilence. They won't hesitate to get physical about it if they have to and will often join gangs, cliques, or anit-groups because there's strength in numbers.
Tolerators believe that everyone has the right to be different. They don't shun diversity but don't embrace it either. Their motto is: "You keep to yourself and I'll keep to myself. You do your thing and let me do mine. You don't bother me and I won't bother you." They see differences as hurdles, not as potential strengths to build upon.
Celebrators value differences. They see them as an advantage, not a weakness. They've learned that two people who think differently can achieve more than two people who think alike. They realize that celebrating differences doesn't mean that you necessarily agree with those differences. In their eyes, Diversity = Creative Sparks = Opportunity.
So where do you fall on the spectrum? Take a hard look. Think about a group that has contrary religious belief to yours. Do you respect their beliefs or do you write them off as a bunch of weirdos?
The truth is, celebrating diversity is a struggle for most of us, depending on the issue. For example, you may appreciate racial and cultural diversity and in the same breath look down on someone because of the clothes they wear.
"The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens" - Sean Covey, pp. 184-185