1985 was the date on a four-frame cartoon found in a box of about-to-be discarded material. A man and a woman face each other and the man is saying, "This comparable worth idea is dumb--and I'll show you why!" The second frame has an apple and an orange on the table and the man is saying, "Here's an apple and here's an orange. Now--how can you compare the two?" In the third frame the woman says, "They're both fruit! They're both round! They both grow on trees! And they're both good for you." In the final frame the man says, "Uh--Let me start over again"
Human differences are fascinating--innate, cultural, religious, and self-chosen. Of course, the female-male difference is basic. Given Men Are From Mars and Women are From Venus' month-after-month best selling popularity, the awareness of differences was heightened. Research, also, is bringing to light many other differences-for example, brain structure.
Differences exist. The question is: do differences delight or divide? Do they enrich the human enterprise or do they demonstrate the superiority of one group over the other?
Unfortunately, differences are used by the powerful to give reason for their superiority and to denigrate those of "lower status." Structures of thought, action and culture created by a dominant group become the norm, reinforcing their perceived superiority. Since absurdities and anomalies abound in any human enterprise, it is easy for the non-powerful (among themselves, of course) to ridicule the powerful.
Differences will always produce some sparks, but how much better to use differences to enlarge, enrich, and enhance our understandings of the whole human enterprise. What could human life be if the emotional and mental energy of everyone was welcomed and embraced?
Now that apples and oranges, compared, have
so much in common, let's begin to truly relish the differences.
--Robert H. Tucker
1 June 1998