The most valuable lesson I learned in high school was from an exercise in Earth Science. Each student needed to write down 7 attributes of a small white pebble. We were given 15 minutes to do so. Initially I thought this was extremely lame. What a time waster to describe a stupid pebble. Oh well, let’s get this over with. The pebble is hard. Duh. It’s light in weight and color, scentless and tasteless. I basically used our five senses of sight, smell, hearing, touch and taste to complete the assignment.
When the time was up, the professor stood in front of a black board (we used chalk in those days) and went around the room getting answers from each student. The other students did not have the same answers I did! How was this possible? The professor was filling up the chalk board with attributes to this plain old stupid pebble. The students were looking at this assignment from different perspectives and therefore had different answers. The light bulbs in my head were exploding as the world beyond my individual perception expanded rapidly.
By opening the floodgate of senses and angles through human diversity we expanded the identified characteristics of this pebble to include: small, smooth, cool, hard, white, scentless, quiet, tasteless, stone, non-edible, sinks, light, reflective, solid, non-porous, throw-able, non-organic, mineral, non-flammable, old, water-resistant, abundant, worthless, useless, circular, rounded, lifeless, classless, sexless, pattern-less, eroded, strong, non-transparent, non-metallic, dull, pearly, egg-like, etc.
If this many attributes can be identified for something as simple as a lifeless pebble, imagine listing all the attributes for every part and the whole of a plant or insect. Imagine listing all the attributes for every part and the whole of a human. If one explores all the attributes of a human from the middle joint of the pinky toe to one of the four chambers of the heart to the path of one electronic impulse through the nervous system, one will recognize that features such as skin color are extremely minute parts of the equation. It’s important to look at a situation from all angles as we often jump to the wrong conclusions by not captivating enough of the whole story or picture. Through looking at a situation from all angles and utilizing critical thinking, we recognize that racism and other forms of discrimination to be ignorant not only morally from an emotional level, but logically as well.
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