I’m writing in response to a very interesting question you posed in your last editorial. Are Canadians celebrating differences, or what they have in common? Are Canadians simply tolerating each other’s unpleasant characteristics as a way of creating unity and harmony?
I personally believe the concept of celebrating differences is a little off the mark. This is based on years of psychological studies that have proven, or at least rigorously supported, beliefs such as “familiarity breeds liking” and “birds of a feather flock together”. Humans naturally gravitate towards people who are like them—emotionally, physically, culturally, and mentally. It is for this reason that, even on campus, we see ethnically homogeneous social groups. However, this obviously doesn’t mean that differences are necessarily bad. Nor does it mean that our differences are necessarily as extensive as we believe them to be. People differ, but only to the extent of their habits, likes, dislikes, and certain practices (and beliefs). “Tolerating” an ethnically different person is potentially no different than “tolerating” a best friend who likes his pancakes with hummus. Same difference.
l have had the fortune of having lived in diverse countries like the Emirates, Pakistan, the USA, and Canada, and one thing I have noticed about people everywhere is how surprisingly the same they all are.
They laugh, cry, fight, and love for the same reasons. They have the same reflexive emotional responses.
When you strip away the culture, the rites, the ingrained norms, and travel to the core of the human as an emotional being, what you get is essentially one person and you learn that Canadians are also capable of getting angry, Pakistanis are also capable of falling in love, Arabs are also capable of having a great sense of humour, and on and on. Yes, we differ and it’s great to be celebrating that. But my experiences have taught me that there is a lot more sameness than difference that merits our celebration, or in the least, our gracious acknowledgement.
It may sound naïve and simplistic, but really, haven’t we made everything else complicated enough?