The first strand of thought comes from artist Nicholas Wilton (@art2life_world) and the series of three videos on design, value and colour. In them he demonstrated quite effectively that it is the differences, and relative differences of shape, contrast and saturation that make an artwork interesting enough to obtain that elusive 'Sold' sticker.
The second strand of thought comes from the natural world, designed by God. In His universe there is infinite variety, even in the world of flowers. Even when we think of gardens, the image that comes to mind isn't of neat rows of the same flower, but the riotous mix of flowers in an English country garden.
The third strand of thought comes from Pope Francis, and his latest apostolic exhortation, 'Chrisus vivit', written to all the Church but especially to young people.
181. Think about it: if someone tells young people to ignore their history, to reject the experiences of their elders, to look down on the past and to look forward to a future that he holds out, doesn’t it then become easy to draw them along so that they only do what he tells them? He needs the young to be shallow, uprooted and distrustful, so that they can trust only in his promises and act according to his plans. That is how various ideologies operate: they destroy (or deconstruct) all differences so that they can reign unopposed. To do so, however, they need young people who have no use for history, who spurn the spiritual and human riches inherited from past generations, and are ignorant of everything that came before them.
185. In this regard, I would note that “many Synod Fathers coming from non-Western contexts pointed out that in their countries globalization is bringing with it forms of cultural colonization that sever young people from their cultural and religious roots. The Church needs to make a commitment to accompanying these young people, so that in the process they do not lose sight of the most precious features of their identity”.
186. Today, in fact, we see a tendency to “homogenize” young people, blurring what is distinctive about their origins and backgrounds, and turning them into a new line of malleable goods. This produces a cultural devastation that is just as serious as the disappearance of species of animals and plants. For this reason, in addressing young indigenous people gathered in Panama, I encouraged them to “care for your roots, because from the roots comes the strength that is going to make you grow, flourish and bear fruit”.
Our differences matter, in fact they seem to be clearly willed by God.
Our differences do not prevent unity.
Our differences help us come up with better answers to life's problems, answers that last the test of time and transcend regional cultures.
This is why bubbles are a problem.
The national plebiscite in late 2017 brought home to me how easy it is for us to get into bubbles of social media where the only views that come across our screens are those that we agree with. Partly this is due to the social media algorithms, yet my own choices of what to like, who to follow and who (and why) to unfollow are very significant. When you are in a bubble you get a very big shock to discover that the majority of the world disagrees with you.
In the wake of the recent federal election I read of a young woman who was shocked to discover that the climate change eco-friendly militantly feminist world view she shared with many others from inner city suburbs as a 'no-brainer' package of values was definitely not shared by the rest of the country. Sadly she now seems to be on a quest to put the rest of the country in touch with these values that she assumes will be embraced by everyone who comes across them. I fear she is in for more unwelcome shocks.
It is so easy to get into a bubble without noticing it happening.
It is far easier to see where other people are in bubbles that to see where we ourselves are in them.
We live in tension between the God who infinitely values differences (no two snowflakes, finger prints and animal pelts are the same) and humanity who wants things safe, predictable and the same.
Differences make us richer, uniformity makes us poorer.
The challenge is to fight against the forces that want uniformity, and to keep our hearts and social media accounts open to those who think in ways alien to our world views.
Definitely this is not an easy task,
but it is crucial to determining the kind of future we are building for generations to come.
May the Holy Spirit help and guide us. Amen.