Reflecting Allowed

Maha Bali’s blog about education

On Difference and Sameness

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Difference must be not merely tolerated, but seen as a fund of necessary polarities between which our creativity can spark like a dialectic – Audre Lorde

From people whose lives are very different from mine or who work in very different fields, I have learned to hear my own voice in new ways – Carol Gilligan

Just saying…

Over the past month or so, I’ve been having deep and meaningful and loving conversations with a small group of online friends. We are different in many ways, we are the same in many ways. I’ve learned a lot from them, I’ve gone through really emotional moments with them, and I’ve thought really deeply with them. One day, I stopped to think about it… of those people, half of them identify as LGBTQ. Not a single one is Muslim (several are atheist). Not a single one speaks my native language (Arabic). On the outside, we have nothing in common – and the things about us that are different are partly what makes these relationships so enriching.

It is important to focus on difference when difference matters. When it makes us more sensitive to realities beyond our own, when it makes us understand the other better. Rather than ignoring our differences, especially the ones that create power differences, confronting them and recognizing them can and should help us build better relationships.

And yet.

For all these people, there’s something we have in common… something deep in our hearts that does not care about all those differences… and it’s how deeply we feel about social justice and humankind. It seems flowery and rhetorical, but it is not easy to find people oriented in that way, similar to you. We are all human. We breathe and our hearts beat and our eyes blink (unless we have some really serious illness). But what it means, to be working with people miles apart from me, but to be so connected in our hearts? That’s precious. And I’m so grateful I have the opportunity to work with and love these people. You know who you are.

And I dedicate this song to you…it is a little simplistic… but there’s parts about how you may look beyond external differences and find something in your core that you share in common “deep in our hearts is what matters for sure”

I also love dancing to this song, so 🙂

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