My daughter came home from Middle School where they were studying the Holocaust and asked me “Mommy, was grandpa a Nazi?” How do you answer such a question? Easy! I said “No”, because all of my life I had heard my parents rail against the Hitler regime. They sent my father to the Russian front and my mother to the basement for shelter from the Allied bombers attacking Berlin. But thirty years later, a fifth-grader in my French class, who was also learning about the Holocaust, asked me, “Why are the German people so awful?” Now the answer was not so easy, because the student unwittingly used a stereotype painting all present-day German people as Nazi criminals. Without going into the history of WWII, I briefly explained that not all Germans are awful, just like not all Americans are awful. Still, seeing an opportunity for a lesson, I taught the French words for “war and peace” (la guerre et la paix) and went on with class.
In 2008, Rachel Osikoya responded from the United Kingdom (UK) to the question, “Will Religious Diversity increase as a focus for diversity professionals?” She followed up with a 2015 perspective. Read both responses side-by-side…
2008 RESPONSE: I would say that multifaith diversity is already just as important as other elements of diversity. When looking at diversity and inclusion in the UK religion and belief are always a factor. Most large corporates in the UK have multifaith rooms or quiet rooms for prayer and contemplation. There are also a number of independent organisations that are available to help companies understand best practice on how to deal with workplace multifaith issues.
Have you ever stopped to explore what drives your life? What about your family history has prepared you for the work you feel most passionate about? In Inspire Your Inner Global Leader, Deborah Levine shares what it is about her Jewish American heritage that has made her the natural advocate, director and trainer of diversity that she is today. Her many stories are catalysts to illustrate and educate, but ultimately to inspire the reader to fulfill his or her potential as a diversity pro. By sharing her own story, Levine hopes the reader will come away with a new appreciation for storytelling as a tool for self-discovery and the enlightenment of others alike.
Waterbaby—a term I’d never heard before reading Deborah Levine’s book, Inspire Your Inner Global Leader. The word sits right there, on the first page of real text, next to its diverse dictionary definitions. I couldn’t get past it at first—I kept repeating it, over and over in my head. Waterbaby. Waterbaby. I read on, in hopes that I would soon understand. It wasn’t long before I realized that her book is an ocean of honest tales, mixed in with rich, personal history. I wanted to know more about what it meant to master diversity, and I really wanted to know what a waterbaby was. After taking an eager breath, I dove right in, and trust me, it was well worth it.
On a cold night in Sixties, my cousin Sam and I escaped our Harvard dorms and headed out for a small neighborhood theater in Boston. I had the homesick bug; Sam cheered me up with a concert by a relatively unknown Ravi Shankar. Shankar was a musician who would eventually attract the Beatles, and the West, to his music. He was more of a cult icon in those days. I was an early entry into the All-Things-Eastern craze, having squeezed myself into a course on Buddhism at Harvard Divinity School. Even so, I had never seen Shankar perform or heard his music.
Many African leaders have used the term ‘We Africans’ in their speeches and statements. Subsequently, many researches and works based on findings in one African society have been deemed to be relevant elsewhere in Africa. For example there are books on African organizations, on the African management style, on African values…Those pieces of work are never based on empirical studies covering the entire continent.
When the issue of diversity is raised, most think of race and ethnicity. Although these topics are very important, they are just the tip of the iceberg. The lens through which we see the world is significantly influenced by the whole of our life experiences. Factors such as socioeconomic status, gender, religion, occupation, language, where we live, cultural background and a host of other factors are all critical components of the concept of diversity.
If you write a book about something that is little known, you have to be prepared for questions. Some will be silly and trivial, some will be deeper: but there will be questions. I wrote about Iran. Immediately I learned that many Americans know little about that country and its culture. Many of the questions I have been asked have been about the women of Iran. They seem so different from the women of America, so different and so very hard to comprehend.
“Real men don’t take paternity leave,” said Robert on CNN’s Facebook page. When reminded by a commenter that it’s no longer the 1950s, Robert responded: “I wish it were the ’50s. Those were the days when men were men.” Hum, “when men were men!” Has an Archie Bunker-ish ring to it, huh?
A few years ago I read Dan Buettner’s book, Blue Zones. He has written a follow up and has continued to research. I want to share with you what he calls the Power of 9. According to Buettner’s, Reverse Engineering Longevity, Life expectancy of an American born today averages 78.2 years. But this year, more than 70,000 Americans reached their 100th birthday. What are they doing that the average American isn’t (or won’t)?