Thursday, 13 August 2009

Celebrating Diversity

This is really just a posh phrase for trying to force people of different ethnic or cultural groups to get along with each other. I last heard it when I was working in a South African university. That is until today. I just heard on Radio 4 a programme in which a young (black) woman interviews a successful black business man who has bought himself a farm in the south of England somewhere and has become a ‘gentleman’ farmer, meaning that he doesn’t do any hands-on work himself. The dynamics of the interview were really interesting as the interviewer (black father, white mother, adopted by a working class white couple) seemed to really resent the fact that this man had ‘bought’ his way in to the community. In my experience, money is the great leveller. Even within an ordinary family, you relate much more easily to the ones who are ‘in the same boat’ financially as yourself and who share your own views on how disposable income should best be spent. How easily we judge people for ‘wasting money’ in our view. Always interesting when anyone (including self) says, “oh, I can’t afford that” – but “can afford” something else. My husband has 6 brothers and sisters and there is great diversity in their financial positions spread out over a normal distribution curve from bottom to top. I wondered if therefore they would inherit in different proportions when my in-laws died but in the event, each child got exactly the same. Of course this was best, no favouritism: for some it was a real windfall and for others, not so much. It’s all relative after all

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