Understanding and managing diversity is a complex process. The process is made more difficult by thoughts, feelings and perceptions each of us carry on a daily basis. Conceptually, each of us has a bag of "stuff" that we manipulate every day of our lives. Seldom do we take stock and evaluate the contents of our bag. We are comfortable because it is our bag and we know, if it is in there it must be necessary for our well-being. What if, for the sake of argument, we were willing to let someone else take a look into our bag? What do you you think they would see? What questions do you think they would ask? Our bags are full of information we think and perceive as factual on a variety of subjects that would include, but not be limited to: race, gender, age, education, sex, disabilities, opportunities, life experiences and sexual orientation.
If we could develop the comfort level to have someone look into our bag while we examined theirs, the possibility of eliminating a significant amount of unnecessary perceptions would be tremendous. Although this sounds simple, as you know, it is very difficult to do. We have a lifetime of bag contributions that we do not examine ourselves, nor question the legitimacy of its content, because we perceive them to be true. The idea of having someone else peek inside and question our beliefs, is to uncomfortable to consider. What has to happen for us to be willing to unburden ourselves and come to the realization, we are maintaining a bag of what could be useless and inaccurate information. How do we get there and what help is needed to get started? We must be open to the premise that there may be some legitimacy to the thought that what we think to be true in our bags may not be. By analyzing each others bag of "stuff" we can become better individuals by working collectively.
Once there is agreement, what do we do to initiate change? In order for change to occur and have a lasting effect, there needs to be a dialogue that addresses what is fact and what is fiction, how did I get to this point and what do I need to do to not arrive at false perceptions again? It must be realized this is not a one time event but a life long effort. We must continually examine what we have in our bag and why. The question that must be continuously asked: "What's in my bag and if I show you mine, will you show me yours".