Sunday, September 07, 2008

Advice to My Grandchildren

After living in Sun City Summerlin, Nevada and witnessing world events over the past decade, and the long campaigns over the last year, I've come to the conclusion that the best advice I can give to my grandchildren is to settle in an area with as much diversity as possible. That includes diversity in race, culture, education, lifestyle, income, wealth, and environment.

It seems to me that most problems are created when a majority of people share the same outlook. They come to believe that because they are in the majority their way of thinking and doing things must be the right way, and that people who don't fit the mold must be wrong headed or inferior in some way.

This seems to be true whether it's a country, a small town, a university, a corporation, a club, a religion, or any other organization where like minded people come together. Only if no group predominates do people actually come to think for themselves rather than follow convention to avoid being ostracized, or get in a rut simply because it's the course of least resistance.

I think I first came to realize this by living in a community where people come from all parts of the country. But, even here the people share a common characteristic, age, which seems to be a basis for many of their thoughts and actions. This is mitigated by having close association with family of widely varying age. Living in a city which is a broad mix of people of different backgrounds and wealth was another broadening experience. And, probably, living alone has been an influence on my thinking, not having someone who shares most of my values to reinforce the rightness of my thinking. All of these things have given me a much more open attitude towards life and people.

Seeing how a government controlled by one political party operated was another eye opener. Witnessing how countries dominated by one religion operated was another factor. Observing how the West, the dominant countries of the world over the last century, faced the challenge of new world powers like China, India and Russia was another factor.

And, finally, seeing how the country became polarized to the point of ignoring reality and important issues, to seek belonging to political tribes bound mainly by like identity, was the final factor in my coming to this conclusion. The extreme reactions to a candidate of black/white heritage and to two different women making their first foray into national politics illustrated the point.

It is my hope, that as time moves on, we will come to realize that the right way of thinking and doing things can only be discovered by taking into account the wide variety of ways people live their lives across the world. Only then, can we draw conclusions about the best way to live our lives.

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