By Samantha Callender
The world we live in today requires an open mind. Being accepting of thoughts and perspectives that are not of our own, allow us to expand our horizons and deepen our sense of self and our environment. Key elements to respect and be receptive to are diversity, multiculturalism, and inclusion. While all of these terms play an interconnected role, they each hold their own in the sense of meaning and application. Each element can stand alone and make an impact, but when they come together, they exhibit such power.
Diversity is often times references to cultural differences among us, but diversity is relevant to the differences in multiple aspects of life: ideas, experiences, and perspectives. Applying inclusion to this term, when we learn to incorporate the diverse aspects of the world that others can bring, we can strengthen our understanding of not only a specific person, but of the environment from which they come. Innovative and new ideas often emerge from the convergence of different perspective and ideals—when we continue to express and incorporation ways of thinking that are beyond our physiological and environmental bounds, we are birthing the opportunity to revolutionize the world we live in.
Multiculturalism is a term where the application of a diverse perspective and reception can be carried out. Multiculturalism is the appreciation of multiple cultures. Either by applying the viewpoints of these cultures, or simply having an understanding for cultures that are different from our ways of life, multiculturalism forces us to broaden our horizons and respect those people and things which are different from us.
The term that can encompasses both multiculturalism and diversity is inclusion. Inclusion, simply put, is the state of including and incorporating all elements of an environment that are present. This meaning that all things that are an environment should be used to benefit the greater good of that environment. Applying this concept to life, we should use the ideas expressed by those around to influence our decisions—seeing things through another perspective. Not meaning that those perspectives should be taken as truths or as our own, but that we should make the best effort to understand them. Opening our eyes to what is around us and what others think and believe allows us to help meet each other’s needs and deeper understand where each of us are coming from.
Following the 1961 implementation of Executive Order 10925 by President John F. Kennedy, which later became known as the Affirmative Action policy, efforts to appreciate and implement diversity in society have been stronger than ever. The primary purpose of affirmative action being to ensure that “[people] are treated equally without regard to race, color, religion, sex, or national origin” when it came to the application process for a job or admittance into an institution, it also was an order than began to change the perspectives of others towards those who differ from us. In the time immediately following the Affirmative Action policy, America began to make efforts to try to understand and embrace the diversity it holds, and to also make the rest of the nation begin to see it also.
Today, Diversity and multiculturalism seem to be a major concern in all aspects of life. From educational classes and the subjects, to the aesthic consequences of the two, diversity and multiculturalism play a major role as to who we all are today—regardless of whether or not we feel as though our subcultures are very diverse or not.