Deep learning happens when we move beyond our comfort zones and enter openly into experiences that challenge and contrast with the known aspects of our identity. Connecting intentionally to someone different from us provides us with an incredible mirror that reflects back our habitual behaviors, views and values that may have previously been hidden to us. Meaning it creates an incredible opportunity for personal growth. Additionally, it can reveal an aspect of our own humanity that had previously been denied and we may discover that in most areas of life we aren’t so different after all – remembering that the DNA of any two people on Earth is 99.6% identical.
Yet, functions of the mind such as implicit bias and motivated reasoning keep us locked in our views. Ethnic diversity by itself does not yet create deeper understanding, but can have the opposite effect and trigger social isolation into familiar groups. Enhanced social skills, such as empathy, inquiry, active listening, and curiosity, along with the capacity to relate to other views are crucial to unlock the rich opportunities of diversity. For one example, read this powerful ancient story of the blind men on the power of diverse perspectives. Our world is complex and we need the ‘Other’ to experience diverse perspectives in order to develop a more complete image of reality and access deeper wisdom to solve today’s critical world issues, from climate change to race relations and nuclear disarmament. We need intercultural and interracial dialogues in order to better understand and serve the vibrant, aching, and diverse world we live in.
Our world is complex and we need the ‘Other’ to experience diverse perspectives in order to develop a more complete image of reality and access deeper wisdom.