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STRANGERS LIKE ME



This world is highly diverse. 

 

As a young child, I remember asking my Mom particular questions about life outside of America, 


"Is there a place out there that's like here but different?"


Growing up, I had never traveled or barely seen outside of our state, and the thought of other people living like us in faraway lands was unreal. Sure, I saw different people and places in my cartoons, but to imagine a boy, just like me, on the other side of the world was beyond my comprehension. 

 

I have since had great opportunities to travel and experience firsthand the lives outside of my homeland. I've seen the other children playing, just as I had, with different customs, yet in all too familiar ways. I've seen them cook and eat differently, yet the same. I've seen them worship differently, yet the same. I've seen their homes, family units, transportation, and supermarkets, different, yet the same.

 

Last week, I visited the New York Botanical Gardens. In the conservatory on the grounds of the garden, they house plants from all over the world. They nurture them based on their original geography and climate, making for a great spectacle of familiar and exotic plants from the desert, the rainforest, Africa, and Mexico. They are all plants, but different and strange in their unique ways. Outlandishly large or oddly shaped plants make for second glances. I was in awe of the plants I had never seen or heard of, and I found those most interesting.

 

Walking through this large conservatory, appreciating the care of the facilities in harboring all these plants, I began thinking about life outside the beautiful glass building. I thought about not plants but the human race. I thought about the complexity of humanity. Just like the plants, we come from all over the world. Some are outlandishly large or oddly shaped. Some look more familiar, while others are exotic. We come from deserts and rainforests, Africa, and Mexico. And some people groups we've rarely ever seen.

 

This plant conservatory had been created so that residents and visitors of New York could both see and appreciate the beauty in the array of foliage. They took the time and effort to care for each one, each in a different way to foster a nourishing climate for that plant to grow and thrive. They understood the importance of individuality among the plants. They understood that although they are all plants, they need special attention to grow and develop to their fullest potential. 

 

Sometimes, I wish the world, in general, was more like this conservatory. I wish we were more often amazed and amorous by the beauty in our differences instead of finding fault. I wish we took more time to understand and care for each other despite our differences. My hope is we see those differences as beautiful and complex and want to know more about them instead of finding comfort in our ignorance. I wish that comparing for personal gain no longer existed. My hope is that we understand that diversity is beauty.

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