I worked at a summer camp this year, and it was the greatest, most transformative experience of my life. I learned at ton about working with kids, about being and living in God’s creation and about my own faith. However, there was one thing I learned this summer I was not expecting to learn about, and I will never forget this experience.
It didn’t even hit me until the weekend after meeting a camper who taught me more about diversity and appreciation for diversity than anyone ever has in my entire life.
This particular camper was a seventh grade African American boy and the son of recent immigrants. He had such a positive attitude and really cared for the kids around him. We hung out and talked about different things like sports, school and the Bible a few times throughout the week.
He was a very bright kid and was able to formulate well-thought-out ideas and opinions about a variety of topics — rather unusual for a kid his age.
One night, we were sitting down and he asked me why people have different skin colors and why different skin colors even exist? The easiest way I could explain this to a seventh grader was that skin color was a natural adaptation to the sun’s rays, which is a direct correlation to where someone’s ancestors lived in relation to the equator.
After quietly processing this for a little while, the camper grabbed my arm and said, “You know, I’m glad we all have different skin colors.” He took his arms and put one on top and one below my arm and concluded, “If everyone was the same, we wouldn’t be able to make Oreos, and everything would be so boring!”
I think we can all learn something from the astounding wisdom of this seventh grader: being different is an awesome thing. Diversity in race, diversity in religious beliefs, diversity in hobbies and interests and even diversity in opinions are all great. This wide berth of differences that we can experience can only make us greater when we learn to listen to one another.
I think we overlook how important it is to have diversity in many different aspects of our lives. As my camper said, if everyone was the same, everything would be boring.
Imagine a world where everyone is the same: Same heritage, same interests, same hobbies, same opinions and viewpoints. How would life even be interesting? We should all be thankful we are even allowed to be different, and use this to learn from one another and challenge ourselves. Differences between people are what bring life and vibrancy to the world around us.
The more I think about it, the more this simple piece of wisdom from this camper challenges me because he is absolutely correct. Life would be boring without the unique qualitites each individual holds.
Those should be cherished, embraced and celebrated in a way that allows people to understand the differences we have.We are not all the same, we don’t all think the same and we should be thankful that we’re not.