Much of what I share or write about comes from my own personal experience. It can be raw and chaotic or carefully organized into a string of pretentious words. The only constant is that it’s subjective, and with subjectivity comes disagreement.
If this hasn’t happened already, my experiences and my depictions of them will likely contradict something you hold to be true with every fiber of your being. But rather than seeing this as a challenge, let us look at this as a source of opportunity.
We as Palestinians and as allies of Palestinians come from a variety of backgrounds and a variety of disciplines and we bring with us a variety of experiences and a variety of wisdoms. Collectively, this is diversity. To be completely candid, it’s the best definition of diversity I think we can ever have.
Far too often we look at diversity through a very narrow lens. We consider it only in terms of the color of one’s skin or the sounds of one’s native tongue — characteristics of an individual that aren’t necessarily under his or her control. Diversity through this lens is unidimensional and idle.
In reality, diversity is multi-faceted, dynamic, and adaptable. There is diversity in opinion, in the way we think, and in the way we critique. We have much more control, albeit intangibly, over diversity than we give ourselves credit for.
Yet we still have a habit of honing in on our disagreements and contradictions as if they somehow strike a blow to our diversity of thought. We tend to follow two trends, each of which occupies an extreme. We will “agree to disagree” and move on, pretending as if neither party has any recollection of a disagreement. Or we will intolerably erase everything and everyone associated with said disagreement. This is most prevalent on Facebook where we can so quickly alter our circle of friends and connections the moment a soon-to-be-former colleague puts up a status we wish we hadn’t seen.
All things considered, these aren’t always bad courses of action to take, most notably when it comes to factual inconsistencies. For example, someone who denies the existence of Israel’s occupation cannot be reasoned with. But for a contradiction of thought with reason and logic and substance on both sides, how often do we consider an alternative? How often do we appreciate this apparent diversity and let it fuel us?
This is how new ideas are formed and old ideas are improved. Challenges are not meant to obstruct. Depending on how you look at them, they are there to help us construct new meaning in what we see (and what we fail to see). They are a reminder of the importance of being proactive.
Ultimately this boils down to one very generic but important statement: we are a diverse community and we have an ever-expanding potential to positively change the world. With so many minds, so many thought processes, and so many inevitable dichotomies, we can’t let challenges and disagreements fool us into thinking the best ideas lie in either of the two or even in the middle.
Rather, we must ask questions and then we must do more. We have to forge new paths and illuminate uncharted territories. We can’t shy away from the opportunity to add to the global melting pot of ideas. We can’t be afraid of stepping outside of the proverbial box and we definitely can’t let a contradicting thought pass before us without feeling empowered to creatively and confidently overcome it.
They may not always be good ones but our ideas, unique to our own subjectivities, are certainly worth exploring. Once we believe in them, the world will too.