What Grief Can Teach Us About Diversity

Diversity is at the core of many social debates in the United States. The argument is typically centered on whether our country is diverse enough — or diverse at all. In the midst of raised voices or protests, rarely does a solution emerge on how true diversity can be achieved.

Inevitably, tragedies like the shooting in Las Vegas, or natural disasters like Hurricanes Harvey and Irma bring out the best in people. People of all backgrounds, races, genders, and ethnicity pull together to help each other when bullets fly or water rises. Then life settles back into the argument that we are not diverse enough as a nation. Media images of protests replace helping hands.

The debate has reached its boiling point. Screaming voices project differing points of view, and messages are drowned out because no one truly listens to each other. Even so, one true diversity stands.

Grief.

We all have different minds, hearts, and souls, yet grief is the great equalizer. Its tentacles reach beyond physical death and carve a place in your heart that never really heals.

Grief Is All Inclusive

Grief doesn’t discriminate on the basis of race, gender, age, or religion. Nor does it care whether the stock market is up, who’s in the White House, or what hurricane is brewing over the ocean. It strikes mercilessly, brandishing its sorrow and sucking normality out of the lives it touches.

I’ve lost several family members in my lifetime, including my sister Michelle from suicide almost thirteen years ago. My grief for her has never ended, though it has changed in character and become more manageable over time.

Then the death of my daughter Lindsay last year thrust me into a whole new level of grief. Losing a child has given me a unique perspective on life. Everything looks and feels different. As C.S. Lewis noted after the death of his wife, “Her absence is like the sky spread over everything.”

Grief Will Sift Out The Unimportant

Grief guides us through the most difficult thing we’ll ever have to deal with — death. But it teaches us about the most important gift we’re ever given — life. Grief sifts the minuscule from the important and leaves little in the latter category — except people and relationships.

I recently watched a home video of my daughter, my son, and our dog playing in the snow. Memories are the only place Lindsay exists now. As cliché as it may sound, we shouldn’t take a single day for granted. I’ve learned that disagreements over anything pale in significance to what I’ve lost.

Unwillingness to see our fellow man as we should is a reflection of our own lives and ultimately, the condition of our minds and souls. The ability to wrap your arms around another, metaphorically and physically, goes beyond what you’re protesting for. It also includes those you’re protesting against. The missing quality in the sea of dispute is the art of listening — along with true empathy for our fellow man. There would be no diversity problem if there wasn’t a heart problem first.

Grief is a harsh taskmaster — insisting you walk with him for the rest of your life. Maybe he’ll become gentler on some days, but he’ll always be there to remind you of your loss, yet always teaching those willing to learn.

So what is the biggest lesson grief can teach us about diversity?

An Opportunity to Love More — Not Less

I’m often amazed at how people define love on such a horizontal, static plane. As long as it fits into the mold of their agenda. Loving your fellow man takes intentional thinking and living, especially in the day-to-day hassle of life or relationship issues that may interfere. After all, none of us are perfect.

Instead of arguing about diversity, imagine a world where each individual lived the best life they could, treating those around them with love and respect. You know — the Golden Rule — accepting personal responsibility for how you treat everyone in your life. If we all actually did this, we’d have no diversity issues in this nation.

It begins with one person.

Will that one person be you?