Why are we so?

(Title of the painting: "Celebrate diversity")
Here's another Orkut chat, Shrinath from India had posted a poem in my scrapbook about the acceptance of difference and diversity. This topic - acceptence of difference - is very important in my opinion with regard to the link between Levinas' philosophy and reflections on intercultural contact. Levinas emphasizes all the time that we should realize and accept that the other is totally different and that we should never try to reduce him to the same. With xenofobia and racism this is exactly what happens: the other the stranger is being objectified and reduced to the same, because I invent an unreal image of the other in my mind and after that I don't look at the real person anymore but only at the image in my mind.

Hye Esther,
I was going through your blogs and I found some of your observations quite profound. I share some of your views and have a strong conviction about these. In fact I've written a small poem kind of thing. It' s about accepting the diversity of people & things around you. This principle is a very inherent part of Indian culture because India as you will know is a land of diversity be it in culture, religions, geography, languages, customs: yet Indians continue to live in harmony as a single brethren. I hope such spirit of tolerance continues to spread throughout the world especially in the current scenario. It's been a long scrap, please do let me know what u think about the poem.

We only see what we really want to see
We only believe in those who tell us what we want to hear
We only fight against whom - we can prevail
How could it always be what we wanted it to be?
Why are we so - Why are we so?

We only learn about what we really yearn for
We only search till we get what we thought we would get
It's then that we begin to stop 'coz this is where we stopped to begin:
To begin - to prove ourselves wrong
Why are we so - Why are we so?

Why do we hate things that are different from us?
Why do we always mingle only with like-minded people?
Why should birds of the same feathers flock together?
In this world full of idiosyncrasies why do we always search for verisimilitude?
Why are we so - Why are we so?

Why are we so averse to change when the only thing thats constant is -
Change. But what really is change?
Well, it' s not just the difference
But it' s the difference we perceive: which is the difference we see
It' s really a parodox: just like life - Why is it so?

My reaction:

It's very good, the poem.

Fortunately, however, I think that humans also have a different side in them. Humans have various urges. The desire for new experiences, for tasting something unknown, can be strong as well. It can happen that a stranger puts into question everything that was considered normal in a community, and that people really start to think about why they do things the way they do and see things the way they see it, and if it's just or if there are other ways that they actually find better. People can get bored when nothing ever changes. A fast changing future is uncertain, but also offers many chances for improvement. What is framed in our minds, what we always learned and always thought, is easier to recognize and to understand. We can recognize it because we already knew it, which is easier than with something completely unknown.

But on the other hand we can learn much more about ourselves in that way (when we are confronted with something completely unknown), about what is supposed to be known but what usually remains at an unconscious level. When there's a clear difference you can see where one object stops and where something else begins. Because of the contrast you can see both objects more clearly. If people can succeed in overcoming their fear for the unknown, for strangeness and the uncertainty of change, if they don't fear it but are open for it, they can certainly use that experience and learn from it.

And here's part of a Level 42 song that combines well with the poem:
We are all sleepwalkers
We only see the things we wanna see
Tunnel visions
And there’s no end in sight

We are all sleepwalkers
We don’t see nothing we don’t wanna see
We dream in color
We paint each other black and white

Let’s take one step at a time
Let’s take each day as we find
Give me the chance to speak my mind
Don’t you know that after all
That’s all I really need, to cross that line

We give the impression that all is well
Trying to live all of the lies we tell
We cry when there’s no one near
We don’t know why there just ain’t enough love
In these alien years

Skimmed through your blog. It's also one of my interest areas. In fact, I have some projects in mind. Do read them
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