Diversity Day (Updated)

Diversity Day (Updated) April 13, 2010

The National Coalition Building Institute of Missoula has initiated our first annual Diversity Day here in Missoula, MT. I spent the day working on my thesis, running, meditating, and now, blogging.  Not exactly the grandest “Diversity Day” activities, but, as has been well-stated, we oughtn’t just wait for special days to do our part. In that spirit, I urge you all to meditate on your own roll in promoting diversity: through active listening, outreach, support, or in any other way.

Part of NCBI’s work has been to create and promote a city ordinance banning discrimination specifically against transgendered persons. One of my friends who was born female and became male is at the meeting tonight and spoke before our City Council. Our local paper has a live ‘tweet’ of the ongoing hearing. Events like this are reminders of the work we all have to end discrimination. But living with this friend and hearing many of his stories and those of other LGBTI people did even more to bring home the message. These are people just like you and I. Why do they have to face additional challenges and discriminations because of this or that particular aspect of their identity?

UPDATE: the Anti-Discrimination Ordinance passed (in a 10-2 vote), hooooray.

Think about it.

And listen.

You might start by visiting COLOR/S OF THE DHARMA and reading about the experiences of others there. This is a new website seeking to bring people of color and allies together to discuss specifically issues of race in Buddhism. With some trepidation (what do I know of race?) I’ve joined in and have been very pleased to begin to get to know some very wonderful folks far outside my little community here in Montana.

I’ll leave you with one quote from my thesis studies. I comes from Charles Goodman’s excellent book, Consequences of Compassion: An Interpretation and Defense of Buddhist Ethics:

Universalist consequentialists [this includes many Buddhists] see selfishness, racism, religious prejudice, chauvinist nationalism, and many other serious moral deficiencies as manifestations of one underlying problem: the tendency to partiality. Humans are strongly disposed to divide the world into “us” and “them,” to seek to promote warfare and advance the interests of “us,” and to regard “them” as untrustworthy, not worthy of moral concern, and potentially dangerous.

 Do you agree? What do you think you or other Buddhists can do to break down this partiality and promote diversity?

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