The Beauty of Difference

When you marvel at the beauty of a Autumn day; watch the snow, the rain, or walk along a beach with your toes in the sand; have you ever wondered what makes those parts of our world so beautiful? Difference is the answer. No two grains of sand, or drops of rain, or snowflakes, or leaves, are exactly the same. No two shells, even as they come from similar sea creatures, are exactly the same. Imagine that! We live in such a beautiful and creative world, don’t we?

William Schoellkopf, traveler prefers to take a walk and listen to the birds. Each bird has a different sound. The calls may be the same, but there are slight differences in each individual bird’s sound. No two dogs look or bark exactly alike. The purr of each different cat has a slightly different sound. The human voice is also distinct and different with each person. Yes, to an untrained ear, a mimic may be able to approximate the sound enough that you recognize the sound of John Wayne’s voice, or some other famous person. If you were to look at the voice print you would see that the mimic has done well, but can never perfectly copy another’s voice. We can copy the style, we can approximate the rhythm and the sound. Many will be fooled by what they hear. However, the truth remains that all are distinct.

Sometimes those differences are so slight we can barely perceive them. We can look at two red roses and believe they are the same. We can listen to two starlings and believe they are the same. They are not the same at all. Each animal has a slightly different scent that allows the mother, or the pack, to recognize that animal as one of theirs. Even skunks have slight differences in their odor, although the same cure is used for all of them!

Scientific advances have shown us that the slightest difference within any species contributes to larger ones that are visible. People are no exception! No two blue-eyed (or any other color) people have exactly the same shade or vision. Most of us are born with two hands, yet even in the same family, one of the offspring may be left-hand oriented or ambidextrous even as the others are right hand dominant. Dark brown hair under a microscope yields an image of two slightly different shades! Some of us are tall. Some of us are more compact. While most of us may appear symmetrical, the truth is that none of us truly are. There are differences in limb length not just between two people, but within an individual. We may look quite ordinary from outside, yet have very different insides. Some are born with only one kidney or only one functional lung. Some of us are born with “gendered” sex organs. Others of us are born with neither, or parts of both, or vestiges of one with dominance of another. We are not exactly the same. Yet, we are all part of the species called “human”. All of us are humans. So, then, why are we so eager to divide ourselves on appearance or ethnicity? A lot of it has to do with the earliest ideas of who’s in and who’s out of our tribe. In other words, who is safe and who might be a danger? This may have been helpful in our earliest human days. It would have kept each clan a bit safer and provided possible ways to mark intruders.

According to William Schoellkopf , one of the most fascinating, and tenaciously dividing, differences in human beings is our skin color. The color of one’s skin is dependent upon the level of melanin made and released into the skin. That layer containing melanin is between .02mm and .5mm thick. Yes. Millimeters are the measuring tool because the differences are so very slight. Amazing, isn’t it? We all have melanin in our skin. Some of us have more than others. That’s the difference. So why have we wasted so much time in the last 700 years fighting over who is human and who is not? We are apparently programmed to fear differences. Skin color has not always mattered to humans. When we read the ancient Greek, or Roman stories, we see that skin color was not an issue.

We are all human beings. We are not different “races” because of skin color, any more than we are different “races” because of eye color or what hand we typically use. Science gives us great insight into those parts of us that are alike, and those differences that we may or may not be able to see. None of that knowledge makes us different. We may have grown up in different places. We may eat different foods. We may speak different languages. Those differences are part of what makes humanity beautiful. Isn’t it time to begin to value each one of us and live in peace?