It was a late fall day as I waited for the elevator in our apartment building. Several floors below from the open stairwell, I could hear two of the tenants having a conversation and I realized that one of them was holding the door open. If they didn’t finish their confab quickly, I ran the risk of being late for school. Finally, I heard the door close and the gears begin to move the old elevator – but it was headed down to the lobby. I would have to wait for its arrival there and then its return up nine floors for me to board. I looked at my Mickey Mouse watch with the red plastic wrist strap and realized that I would have to hustle if I were going to keep my perfect on time record intact.
When I opened the building’s front door, I could see a gentle snow was falling. I hadn’t gone two feet when a flake landed on the left lens of my glasses. It seemed that eyewear was a magnet for snowlakes. This had happened before – and I learned from an earlier experience that it was better to let the flake melt rather than trying to wipe it off with my sleeve. So I semi-ran the two blocks to school trusting my familiarity with the route to get me there despite the waterfall through which I was looking.
I opened the school door with three minutes to spare and slowed down to the acceptable pace which we were supposed to use when we were in school and calmly walked up the flight of stairs to my classroom, passing the older kids who were stowing their outerwear in the lockers which were in the hallway. It would be two years before I would have one of those – with my very own combination lock. I was looking forward to being in fifth grade with all the priviliges that came with that achievement.
I opened my classroom door and saw that Mrs. Bounds was writing on the chalk board. She turned and welcomed me with her usual warm, “Good morning.” So I went to the rear where I hung my coat in the communal locker and took my seat. We were starting the morning with math – one of my favorite subjects. I was ready for a busy day of learning.
We had previously learned how to count by ones all the way to one thousand. That was a heap of counting. And my father, seeing how much I seemed to enjoy it said, “You know, you can count to one thousand by twos and threes and fours as well.” I decided to take him up on this tidbit of information and I managed to count myself up to one thousand by twos. Not to anyone’s surprise but mine, this took only one half as long as doing the same exercise by ones. So I thought I would try threes. And when I got finished, although this took even less time than twos, I thought I had done something wrong. I got to 999 instead of my expected one thousand. I couldn’t wait for my father to come home so that he could show me what I did wrong. But then instead of just deciding to speak the numbers, I thought I would write them down to see if that made a difference. It didn’t. But I did get an interesting lesson on fractions which gave me a head start when we started learning about them later. And I also learned that one thousand was not the end of all numbers. That inspired me to count to two thousand, which I started doing that night. But I fell asleep well short of my goal.
As Mrs. Bounds took attendance and we raised our hands when our name was called, I noticed that the small flurry of snow I had encountered on my way was growing in intensity. In fact, it was falling quite hard.
Mrs. Bounds looked out the window and commented, “You know chidren, there are no two snowflakes that have ever fallen that are exactly alike.” This statement had as much impact on me as learning that one thousand was not the top number. And I believed Mrs. Bounds because she was originally from Canada where it snowed all the time – or so I believed. While I was, of course, unfamiliar with the words millions or billions, after all it was third grade, I started thinking about how many snowflakes must have fallen since snow started falling. And although I couldn’t express that unfathomably large number with a word, my mind reeled as I thought to myself, “That’s probably more snowflakes than there are stars in the sky on a clear night. Way more.” I was awestruck.
After one of the Republican presidential debates, I caught an interview with the Chairperson of the Democratic National Committee, Debbie Wasserman Schultz. I’m not sure if she’s related to the person who invented the Wasserman test to determine if a person is syphilitic, but I’m quite certain that she missed the science class in which she would have learned that standing in a pool of water through which an electric current is flowing is likely to have devestating effects on your coiffure – perhaps even beyond the ability of the finest hair stylist to cure. If you’ve not already guessed, I’m not a big fan of hers.
Ms. Schultz went on her usual frontal assault about one of the earlier Republican debates, striking what I’m sure to her was the most damning condemnation in her claim that there was “no diversity” among the candidates. Diversity is a very big talking point for the left. But I wonder if those who espouse this principle really understand it – or, more importantly, really care about it.
Long before diversity became such a big PC bell ringer, I was introduced to it when I read some literature about how thousands of species were dying off in the South Amerian rainforests every day. And I already knew that the Dodo and the Passenger Pigeon had gone extinct. Well, of course, so did the dinosaurs.
But do we really want diversity?
Last year there was a huge brouhaha about those parents who did not want their children to receive a measles vaccination. Rubella is a virus, as are ebola and polio and smallpox and our now most current virus poster child, zika. Yet, apparently, humans would be very content if all of these viruses passed into oblivion. Do they, as part of the ecosystem as much as are elephants and puppy dogs and snail darters and humans not have as much right to exist? Wouldn’t fighting on behalf of these and other harmful viruses be advocating for diversity?
Several millenia ago, Christianity happened upon the scene. One of the principles of that faith is that each person is unique and special. I don’t see how you can get more diverse than uniqueness. And, finally, science has caught up, confirming what religion has taught for centuries. The proof of that is, of course, the fact that we now use DNA evidence either to exculpate or convict people of criminal activity – relying on our scientific understanding that each person’s DNA is unique. Who says religion and science can’t get along?
If we proceed from that standpoint of uniqueness, why then do we not view diversity within that framework? Any crime against any other person should, in today’s context, be considered a hate crime or, at the least a crime against diversity. That is true irrespective of whether either party is male or female, of the same or different races, whatever their religion and irrespective of sexual orientation – or whatever moniker we concoct further to divide, partition and pigeon hole ourselves.
And while we tend to focus on the negative and express real or imagined outrage when people act disrespectfully towards one another in any of the myriad way we express that, it might be useful to consider how our world might benefit if we actually embraced diversity in its truest sense and demonstrated that in simple acts of kindness or charity or, at the very least, in expressions of common courtesy to everyone we encounter.
The latest flare up in the war for diversity stems from North Carolina’s recently passed law regulating who may use which public facilities including bathrooms, locker rooms and showers. Opponents of the law claim this will disenfranchise those few citizens who are trans-gendered, restricting them to using those facilities designated male or female and requiring them to use those which correspond to their genital equipment rather than their inner emotional sense of identity. Proponents claim this will protect people from those who might be sexual predators.
Not meaning to sound dismissive of those who are trans-gendered, people with that condition represent, I suspect, a very small percentage, perhaps less than one percent, of our entire population. Is it reasonable, by any logic, to inconvenience ninety-nine percent of the population to accommodate such a small minority? And to ask a question, which I have never heard brought up in the debate, does that small minority have a responsibility to respect the vast majority’s concerns? Isn’t that, after all, what a democracy is about?
It’s interesting to me that with the furor over this issue, I have heard the loudest voices coming from an amorphous collection of left wing people who themselves are not trans-gendered – but nothing from those who are trans-gendered themselves. On the one hand I suppose one might look at these righteous crusaders as just that – people pursuing a magnanimous quest on behalf of the downtrodden. On the other hand, one might argue that they believe the trans-gendered don’t have the verve, perspicacity or capability of speaking for themselves.
It always troubles me when there are those who, under the ageis of pure philosophical conviction, take up a cause and point out the injustices in society which are many and pervasive. They, of course, are not affected themselves by the presumed inequity as they seek to wipe from the face of the earth any malevolent regulations or behavior. So I thought to myself, what if we were to find a solution that would accommodate every person and see how that worked?
My solution is simple. Just allow people of either sex to use whatever restroom facilities are handiest, irrespective of gender. I suspect that within a week or so the outrage would be so loud that this issue would soon be buried in the footnotes of the annals of history. But that’s just my opinion.
Meanwhile, I’m looking forward to this coming winter and hoping to catch a glimpse of the unique miracle of the diversity we find in snowflakes. And, I anticipate just kicking back and chilling out.
Perhaps we might all benefit from that approach to viewing life.