Saturday, January 6, 2007

Diversity, pitching Polly off the porch, and the husband's father is gravely ill

In ecological systems, the strongest and most vibrant communities are the most diverse. They can withstand many insults and dangers, pests and pestilence. The greater the variety, the stronger and richer the community, and the better it's chance at survival, and better it's chance to flourish.

The same holds true for individual species, one of the great problems with animals that have escaped extinction is that their survival remains compromised for hundreds of years. The reduction of the genetic diversity to a few members weakens every future member of the group. They are permanently vulnerable to disease, and are much reduced in their ability to adapt.

This is also part of the reason that fringe members of a species are so important, they tend to hold greater diversity in their beings in order to cope with the marginal conditions in which they dwell.

Why is it then, that we as humans do not easily, or do not at all welcome and support diversity. We are animals, but our greatest tool for adaptation is cultural and social. If we reduce our diversity down to a Sylvester Stallone, Coca-cola world of tabloid people magazine thinking, are we not inherently weakening ourselves, like the poor cheetah who are all virtually identical twins?

The variety of ways in which we think, speak, eat, dream and love is our strength. It is our most important attribute. So also, by inference are the fringe members of the culture, the ones living outside the cosy warmth of the herd. The artists, the passionate nerds, the explorers and adventurers. Small independent caches of diversity, variety and resilience.

We need to go much farther than tolerating diversity. We need to recognize it as our greatest strength, as a species, a culture, a village and a family. Lets celebrate this richness and resilience, and strength. Especially now as we are brought into the duality of increasing contact between cultures, riding the subway in Toronto, you are likely to hear at least half of the conversations in languages other than English, and simultaneously, everywhere you go people are drinking coke, eating burgers and shopping at walmart while wearing jeans and a t-shirt.

What I have been struck by most here in Spain is the similarity of the culture... you have to look for the differences. So I'm voting for celebrations of diversity, for balancing the duality of increased contact between cultures and the pressure towards uniformity of culture. Of creating a unity within humanity and still honouring and maintaining our diversity.

I'll keep studying Catalan, as well as learning some Castillian. I hope my kids do to.

If you are interested, there have been posts and comments on a similar topic over at this site. She is discussing her experiences in Spanish schools, but it carries.

More mundanely, the eldest child now has a wildly loose tooth, we are getting moment by moment updates on it's movements, but as yet it cannot do any disgusting maneuvers.

Had Christmas mark two this morning, quieter...pancake breakfast, gifts and goodies. Then the traditional walk in the afternoon, even if it was about 19 degrees at the top of the mountain... dinner at home, I didn't have huge plans for something fancy, but it came out plainer than planned. We had a number of phone calls to the husband's family in Canada, and a bunch of conversations around it all. The tortell de Reis, was really more of a sweet bread, but very good nonetheless. There are two surprises hidden in them. One is a glass king, the younger daughter got that, it makes you king or queen for the day, and you get to wear the crown. The lovely lady at the bakery gave us two crowns, so no problem there. The elder daughter got the fava bean, which means you are supposed to pay up for the cake...(do they have bean counters here too?) The girls ignored that altogether and decided that they were both queens. Watched a movie in the evening. Nice quiet family Christmas. On the whole, it was very lovely.

The kids spent part of the day throwing Polly Pocket off the porch. They played a game on the boat, where they tied the Polly's to a plastic grocery bag like a parachute and harnessed the wind, that at times howled through the boat, to send them kiting, like the folks who go kite surfing, but we did it indoors. Not enough wind here, so instead Polly went parachuting, much to the neighbour's amusement.

On a sad note, we got an e-mail from the husband's family, and his Dad is extremely unwell. Hence the calls, and the simplified dinner. His father has MS, and has been living in a chronic care hospital for 16 years, but has taken a very serious turn for the worse in the last few days. It is really pretty bad, the nurses at the hospital have called my sister-in-law to come over twice now. Not very nice at all.


Beth said...

So sorry to hear about your husband's father. (And just when you're all together as a family again.)
Your thoughts on diversity are excellent.

oreneta said...

Beth: Thank you on both counts. I was pretty delighted to read your post about our impact in the world...getting us all thinking in the New Year. I thought your post was also excellent.

Beth said...

Gosh, you and I are busy today, aren't we?
Back and forth, back and forth with the commments on our blogs.
Where is everyone else? Do they have a life or something?

Anonymous said...

Gosh, so sorry to hear about your father-in-law. We are going throught the same thing...

Loved the story about polly pocket's adventures. In our house we had GI Joe doing some pretty scary maneuvers out of windows and off of ceiling fans.

kate said...

Oh dear, I'm sorry to hear about your father-in-law.

Thanks for the link!

oreneta said...

Beth: We were bouncing around a fair amount there weren't we...I went to bed eventually.

Trish: Thank you, he died in the night.... The dolls do get to live adventurous lives. They may go bungee jumping today.

Kate: No problem

Nomad said...

Hi Oreneta,
I loved your comments on diversity.

Well said and beautifully written.

Have been thinking about this myself lately, from the evolutionary perspective of why difference is so threatening to many of us...why do we isolate and drive away those on the edge of the herd...

I am SO sorry about the your father inlaw.

Sending love throught the air...

oreneta said...

Hi Nomad: Thank you for your comment...why do we do that driving them away from the herd..I agree with you that it is worth thinking about.