Elsa Franco Al Ghaslan
Published — Friday 22 February 2013
Last update 22 February 2013 12:04 am
While I was casually browsing through a children’s book, one of the stories intrigued me, so I took the time to read it all. Its title was “Catwings”, by Ursula K. Le Guin. An interesting, imaginative tale indeed. It tells the story of a “normal” tabby cat who gives birth to four winged kittens. Yes, four “winged” kittens. She is duly surprised, as it can be easily guessed, but then she accepts them totally (she is their mother after all, isn’t she?). Eventually, she encourages them to fly away in order to find a dwelling place that is better than their dirty, dangerous alley. The kittens, after some understandable feelings of reluctance, do fly away and meet with a few adventures. Finally they find a relatively safe place, where other creatures are at first surprised by the kittens’ unusual appearance, but then they end up considering them as acceptable neighbors.
The kittens must devise how to survive, so they need to discover a way to both feed themselves and escape dangerous predators. Later, they meet two children who carefully endeavor to make friends by leaving some food out on a stomp for them to eat. At first the kittens are suspicious, remembering their mother’s warning about “shoes and hands” that can hurt them badly. At the end a trusting relationship is established when the children, lovingly caressing the kittens, say, “Their wings are furry” and one of the kittens happily purrs, “Their hands are kind.”
I found it a beautiful story about “diversity.” It is not an unusual topic and a lot has been written about it. Have many things changed as far as accepting diversity? I believe they have. Have they changed enough? I am afraid they haven’t. Examine yourself and discover if, deep inside, you can truly consider someone who is “different” from you as your equal. Think about people of a different culture, race, religion, background, social status, habits, beliefs… Can you honestly say that you don’t see anything in them that stands as a division between you two?
Would you really behave in the same way towards both a street sweeper and your boss? Admit to yourself that you wouldn’t. The difference in their social status would make you brusque and curt while speaking to a simple worker while you would use a deferent and submissive tone while talking to a superior. Why? Do you believe that the simple fact that one makes more money than the other is a “better”, more deserving human being?
Now think about the way you consider a person who comes from a different background and has dissimilar habits from yours. Are you willing to accept and welcome the opinion he (or she) has about social situations, political issues etc.? Many tend to consider those who have diverse beliefs as outcasts, a kind of “heretics” that should be shunned.
Discrimination is still a big sore in our society. We are not yet able to accept the fact that “different” can be “beautiful and interesting.” A state still persists where A does not see B as deserving of respect and consideration, and where B cannot move beyond the natural distrust towards A. Neither is willing to shake hands once and for all. If only each human being could always keep in my mind the image of everybody’s death. When you die, it does not really matter if you are white or black or green, it does not matter if you are rich or poor, it is of no importance if one is the general director and the other is the janitor. Human beings are all “the same” as… “human beings.” It is awful and distressing at the same time to see how hate, misunderstanding, diffidence, mistrust, judgment can create such a huge chasm between individuals who were born equal and who, in spite of the different paths they may have followed during their existence, never ceased to be made of the same “substance.” Are you willing to remember these considerations the next time you catch yourself criticizing another because you believe he is “different”?
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