Lately, I have found myself drawn more and more to the idea of diversity and its importance in our lives. This realisation was triggered by my experiences when I became vegan a little over a year ago. As a vegan, and before that vegetarian, I found that I didn’t necessarily want to have to eat at restaurants which catered for vegetarians exclusively, I just wanted to be able to eat at restaurants that offered enough variety in their menu that I could choose dishes that were suitable for me. I don’t want to live in a world that is tailored to suit my needs and wants, I just want there to be enough variety and freedom that there is room for me in it.
For me, I think diversity and consequently the right to be different is of crucial importance to my humanist stance and also my everyday life. If humanism is to base itself on rationality and empiricism then the need for free discussion must be paramount. If humanism is anything then it is the assertion that there is no one life path dictated by another authority but that one must think for oneself and consider possible actions and consequences. Humanists should know better than anyone that we don’t want to be dictated to on what we believe or don’t believe. The role of humanism in the world that I envision involves creating a space and community where individuals can discuss issues of living and ethics that interest them with like-minded individuals and, furthermore, takes action to protect this opportunity and right. There is much to be learned from those whose views differ from our own. The need to convince another of my way of thinking isn’t important or necessary to me, I do, however, staunchly insist on my right to my beliefs based on my reasoning and consideration. What others believe does not concern me so much, until it encroaches upon the freedom of beliefs and hence lifestyle that I and others choose.
Every individual is uniquely created and acquires unique experiences and circumstances. Within any set of individuals there will be common experiences and beliefs as well as differences and unfamiliar conditions. Whether frustrating or fulfilling, every interaction with another brings us new insight and issues to ponder. It is the nature of the human mind that it thrives on new experiences and learns from all information it processes. Diversity is essential for healthy and active human minds, and makes for a more interesting and beautiful world in general. There is, after all, no logic or morality to aesthetics and there is something to be learned from everything. The right to diversity is also the right of the individual to exist, and should be encouraged and protected.