A BILLION VALID REALITIES
Over 6000 languages are spoken across the world, considering the fact that a significant fraction of the world population speak at least two to three languages,this is a simple implication of how culturally diverse our world is. Even without giving it much thought, it is an accurate assumption that all these languages individually have distinct vocabularies that undoubtedly differ from those of any other language in existence.
I enjoy drinking tea so much that I can barely go a day without two or more cups of tea,perhaps this is why my thoughts on diversity led to me contemplating what a mug is called in languages other than those I’m already fluent in. In both the native languages i speak, a mug is called “ekikopo”, this is the default word used by majority of the bantu speaking people inhabiting Uganda. Obviously it’s very unlikely that other languages have this exact same word to mean mug and while some translations sound pretty similar, there is a definite difference that’s closely that comes from the uniqueness of every dialect;‘igikombe’, ’eikopo’, ’aikopo’,‘kopp’, ’koca’. ’kobok’, ’koob’, ’taza’, ’kapu’, ’cupa’, ’ipu’, ’copo’, ’kapoaka’, ’coupe’, ’kauss’, ’bolli’, ;koppie’ – it’s hardly possible to exhaust what all languages across the world refer to it as, however, basing on the aforementioned translations, there is an undeniably distinct reflection of how intriguing varying diversity is.
Getting to know all these different names for the same thing is just one of many day to day vivid portratals of the fact that we all view life from a different lens. Despite that we all exist in the same big world at the same time, neither of us views any aspect of life from the same exact angle with a similar intensity as anybody else. What determines the different lens you might ask,well, innumerable factors can account for this; the homes we grow up in, the people that raise us and their background, the people we meet who impact us, the secrets we keep, the inevitable wave of change, what we’re taught in school, the setbacks we encounter, and so much more. Hence, the minute differences in how we refer to a mug in our various langages is a very simple but fundamental example of how the presence of a difference doesn’t automatically translate to false/inappropriate or unacceptable because we all come from different walks of life. How bizarre would it have been for me to walk up to everyone who gave me a different name for cup other than the one I know and tried to convince them that they’re wrong, rendering them a speech about how they’ve had it wrong all along and that they should try to say it like me,simply because that’s how I say it, so that must be the only right way.
“That’s how I say it, that must be the only right way” is a destructive mentality that unfortunately keeps running in our daily lives because so many of us are still holding on to the mindset that we always have to be right, and the only way to be right is be the only right one in the room. “I’m a girl and pink is my favourite color, so pink should be every girl’s favourite color,” , “It took me only a couple of weeks to get over my break up, why can’t you do that too?” “I was depressed too but I got up everyday and showed up to work every single day without fail, why is that so hard for you to do?” “You’re queer, how are you even queer? I’m not! how is that even a thing?” Well, simply because you’re not ,you didn’t or perhaps you did, it doesn’t give you a right to refute someone else’s reality, moreover validating someone else’s reality doesn’t make your experience less real.
It is not challenging to recognize that someone else is different from us, the challenge lies in how we react to the knowledge of that – how we respond to traits they exhibit which are unfamiliar to us, the attitude with which we approach them on realization that they’re somewhat not like us, and sometimes, the shift in our intentions towards them. More often than not, we view validating someone else’s difference as a threat to our own reality, it comes off as if there should only be one version of real(our particular version of real) and whatever/whoever doesn’t fit in that box is to be cast out, shamed or shunned completely. But alas, this mentality can only take us so far as it is nothing short of toxic, it leaves no room for us to be more progressive and this leads to acts of dehumanisation that even go as far as persecution in many cases.
Perhaps our inability to allow ourselves acceptance for people who are different from us is the lingering ghost of colonialism that inevitably taught us that there is no possible way to coexist with people different from us other than to erase who they’re and morph them into us, because in that case, we don’t have to do the work of learning who they are and understanding them. However, the fact that the vice of discrimination might be another sprout from the deep running damage caused by the colonialists doesn’t count as an excuse for us to settle for this vicious and terrible world, and precisely, the least we could do is take a stand and fix it other than make a larger mess out of it.
The crucial job of creating inclusiveness and safety starts with each of us making the choice and dedicating ourselves to being more human than not, acknowledging the realness of someone’s difference doesn’t make you less of who you are, what it actually does is create room for you to learn something from them. There is always something to learn, so why not take that road other than try to change them or belittle them.
What about them that is different from you? Is it their physical appearance, religion, country of origin, the language they speak, their sexualty, their passions and habits,how they express and deal with emotions, their overall perspective, whatever it is, it could be anything, it doesn’t have to pit you against them, lean in and you just might learn a thing or two.
Start small, think of it like learning what a mug is called in another language.