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Differences • Posted: May 21, 2013 15:37:19Comments WelcomeVote CoolPhotoblogsPurchase a PrintShare

Immigration reform is a major topic of concern in Washington DC these days. Per Reuters, proposed legislation was amended in Senate committee Monday to require finger printing of all non-citizens upon both entering and exiting through our nation's 10 busiest airports. It's an effort to quash visa overstays, a significant proportion of undocumented immigration to this country. Most EU countries are also considering immigration reform. Jordan and Turkey are in distress dealing with influxes of refugees from conflicted Syria. The list goes on and on. National borders across the globe are in the process of both breach and refortification. "Keep all those ... out!!", the reactionary fervor resounds. (Insert your own favorite term of derision here.)

It's both sad and disturbing. The notion of differences, though, goes much deeper than citizenship. From early grade school, we pick on those who are different. We tease, ridicule, and ostracize them until they either remove themselves from our purview or "prove" themselves worthy of inclusion within our midst. (There is a fascinating adult version of this dynamic described in the short story Outcasts of Poker Flat by Bret Harte.)

It's curious as to why this seemingly innate tendency to discriminate has proven so difficult to restrain. In actuality, diversity is a net advantage for both species and ecosystem. The contrary is also true. Sameness weakens and renders more vulnerable both social and ecological systems. They do not adjust well to stress. They show both limited flexibility and limited ability to adapt. The same holds for education. The more education an individual has, the more options he or she has dealing with problems and stresses. The more inflexible one's ideas and thinking, the fewer options one has attempting to cope.

Still, we laugh at, scorn, fear, throw stones at, or are appalled by those who appear different. How very cruel and undermining of our own welfare. May we all, much sooner than later, outgrow this unfortunate debilitating immaturity.

Saturday, April 20th, 2013