Embracing diversity

I am listening to the audio version of Tove Jansson: Arbeide og Elske (Tove Jansson: Work and love), about the Finnish artist and author, including of the Moomin stories. 

One thing that strikes me is that she and others in her political and artistic circle seem to not only have strong views on art, society, and politics (which is healthy) but think that these views are exclusively right and other views are inherently wrong. 

I have always been puzzled by this. For me, there is beauty and necessity in the diversity of views, orientations, and preferences. That’s how the richness of our society and culture is created, it’s how we go outside of our own limited conditioning and learn to view things from other perspectives.

Collectively, it’s how we – as a society and species – can become more resilient and adaptable. Some of us may have insights and solutions that are just what we need in responding to new situations. And we cannot easily predict what this will be in advance.

For me, there is something of value in just about any view and orientation. Each reflects the experiences and background of some of us humans. They all fit into a bigger whole. I can learn something about humanity, the world, and myself from each of these views. And all of it reflects and mirrors something in me, and I can use it as a pointer to find it and get to know it in myself.

When it comes to art, there is obviously art I don’t quite resonate with or understand. And I am very happy if it resonates with someone else. Also, who knows, perhaps it will resonate with me in the future? It likely will if I take the time to explore it.

Why do some of us have a more inclusive orientation, while others take a more exclusive view? 

I can find both orientations in myself, as I assume we all can. In some areas, I am effortlessly more inclusive and value diversity (for instance, food), and in other areas, I may go into unexamined and fearful patterns and take a more judgmental and exclusive view.

If we take a mirror approach and use the diversity in the world to find our own inner diversity, then we tend to find a deeper appreciation of the diversity of the world. We know how to make use of it to get to know ourselves better and consciously embrace more of our own wholeness and diversity. The richness of the world becomes a way for me to find my own richness.

If we take an evolutionary perspective, we see that this diversity – in orientations, views, and preferences – is vital for our survival. Each view has something of value and together creates a richer collective repertoire for us to draw from. Faced with new collective challenges, some subgroups may have just what we need to adapt, survive, and thrive.

If we use our own views, orientations, and preferences to create an exclusive identity for ourselves, we’ll tend to feel we have to defend it, including through putting down and diminishing other views, orientations, and preferences. It becomes a small orientation. This too has its place. At the very least, it serves as a mirror for ourselves so we can find where and when we do the same. (Which we inevitably do or, at least, did.)

Tove Jansson and her friends lived in the last century. Perhaps this more inclusive view is more widespread and common today, at least among the more liberal segments of society. Perhaps

Note: I wrote this on my phone in the wilderness so it’s more flow-of-consciousness and less edited than it normally would be.



Art – about the fit, may not be a good fit for me, but is for others, and that’s wonderful, makes me happy.

Book / art and fit / diversity more in general, the reasons we need it

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