Thursday, March 20, 2008

Diverse Office

For me and my highly talented co-workers coming to work is something a little different than most people go through, and by that I mean that it’s probably the only time of our day where, I, the straight ally, is the minority in the office.  I think it’s a great feeling, and it should be the case in many more places of work.  For me coming to work is a learning experience, and I think that everyone should get to experience being in a diverse environment, not only at work, but in everyday life.

Diversity is what makes this country great, and I don’t think we should allow a few people to ruin the experience for others.  People who do not understand other cultures and lifestyles create ignorance and hate, and instead of opening their mind, they close it off, and to me that is boring.  I would not be the person I am today, if I didn’t get the opportunity to live in Saudi Arabia and be the minority.  I learned an incredible amount about many many cultures and religions, that I otherwise would not have had a chance to experience and I am grateful for it.  Being back in the U.S. now, everyday life is pretty average, until I go to work, and I’m excited to get up everyday and have a change.  But do my co-workers feel the same?

For me once work is done, I go outside and life is back to normal, I’m a Caucasian, straight, male.  Where as my co-workers and many other people around the U.S. go outside and have to go back out and deal with ignorance and hate filled people.  Never knowing where a hateful comment may or may not come from, whether it is on the street, at a convenience store or even in their apartment complex.  It disappoints me that this great country can do so much in so many areas, and yet it struggles tremendously with being comfortable in a diverse population. 

     What is the cause of it? 

Is it because we are in this “Uber Politically Correct” era that creates an uncomfortable silence for fear of saying something that can be taken the wrong way?  I believe that it is the opening cause of it.  I think people are curious by nature, and would like nothing more that to learn about their peers and office mates, but the fear of saying or asking something ignorant freezes people’s mouths for fear of being called a bigot or a racist.  I think if we toned down the finger pointing a little, and let things roll off your back then people would be more open and more conversation would happen.  When something does offend you, stop and tell that person without embarrassing them, and then explain why it is offensive, and how to correct their mistake.  It is all about educating people about your differences and living in harmony, not separating yourselves because of them.  Open communication is the only way to educate the people around you.

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