Diversity and Equality: Shifting Paradigms

This week an old rhythm from the past reached into the present and tweaked at an old way of being and asked whether I wished to go back there. “Can I tempt you out of retirement” it said. Will you consider doing some work on diversity”?
I might, I responded; depends on whether you are prepared to shift an old paradigm.
But let me take a step back. Years ago I was deeply embedded in that whole equality and diversity training industry - a very British thing. With hindsight I would say that generally it was mostly a complete waste of time – more tick boxing than any real shift. Sometimes when people, especially the police, told me with great authority what they had gleaned about ‘ethnic’ communities from ‘race and diversity’ training, I cringed.
 “Diversity training” cannot be about how to treat others of a different race or culture to mine – what was ‘politically correct’. It is about looking at and acknowledging my own shadow, which I projected on to others. That requires a thorough review and immersion in one’s personal archetypical patterns of perceiving and behaving.
In this paradigm, the “politically correct” becomes very “personal” in a way which challenges one’s integrity and invites the individual to look at their values, beliefs and behaviour as a reflection of who they are in the world. Can they see how their internal world becomes an extension of the external world; how personal behaviour has global consequences? Unless diversity and equality training, however brief, can take the individual there then it’s not worth doing.
My past perception of and engagement with ‘diversity training’ stemmed from my own experience of racism and the conditioning impact of inequality and discrimination. Like Pavlov's Dog, that conditioning was so deeply embedded in my psyche that ‘separation’ had become an automatic response; it had turned into a complex, a false god.  Most of what I considered to be worthwhile ventures in my working life had contained a distinct element of ‘separate development’ – the thesis of apartheid!  I was not even aware that I lived in that place. It seemed a natural outflow of my life. 
Our tendency to see ourselves as ‘separate’ is at the core of all the problems in the world. If I am part of perpetuating ‘separation’ in my own daily comings and goings, then I was separating myself from the ‘whole’ of Life and cannot therefore be sustained by the ‘whole’ of Life. We each in our own personal way have opportunities to challenge separation of self from other, self from the earth.  


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