"No one is born hating another person because of the color of their skin, origin or religion. People must learn to hate, and since they are able to do so, they are also able to learn to love, because love is closer to the human heart than its opposition".
Nelson Mandela

In nature, each ecosystem requires many different plants, animals, and organisms to grow, flourish, and be in balance. It is the excessive interference of people that causes this harmony to be disturbed. And although our planet can do well without people, we will not do without it. Therefore, there are more and more initiatives dealing with the issue of caring for insects, not mowing lawns, turning them into flower meadows and many others. The importance of diversity is not just about the environment. Equally important is the social one, from which it is impossible to escape, although some people dream of unifying the whole world.

Imagine two gardens. One of them is full of the same flowers, they can be roses, just like the Little Prince’s. It is difficult to appreciate individual plants when they all look the same, and at the same time there are so many of them that the mere sight of them can be a bit boring and the smell overwhelming.

Now let’s move to a garden where the caring hand of a gardener or gardener cares for flowers, shrubs and trees that provide shade from the scorching sun. There will even be room for an unruly clover, and maybe even a nettle (you can make a salad or soup out of it!). Such a garden encourages squirrels and birds to live in it. It is also rare for any pests to do a lot of damage, because they are quickly eaten by birds or moles.

This first garden metaphorically represents what people see when they discriminate against others – they see one shade of color, only one size, and one shape they consider appropriate and beneficial. The second garden represents what people see when they understand and appreciate that the world is diverse – different colors, types, different shapes and sizes. They see a garden where flowers grew in their own way and bloomed at their own pace, and each plant looks good when growing alongside a flower other than itself.

“Each of us is different” is a sentence repeated so often that it faded into a cliche. It’s a pity, because there is a deep wisdom behind it, which is worth returning to. People differ from each other not only in terms of visible features. They also differ in their way of thinking, reacting to what happens to them, religious beliefs, but also sexual orientation and gender identity. By accepting that other people are different from us, we open ourselves to the fact that we can draw from each other and live in harmony. We recognize that strength lies not only in similarities, but also in differences, because we can complement each other through our different and unique experiences.

However, when meeting a stranger and getting to know his world, anxiety and distance may arise. We are afraid of what is foreign and new, because knowing and understanding requires effort and willingness from us. We cannot be sure that contact with someone other than ourselves will be safe for us. It is a mechanism developed to help future generations to survive. It is easier to live in the environment and among people we know well, because we know more or less what to expect, what to expect and what to avoid. With new people, we need time to get to know and understand them. Hence, people often try to facilitate their functioning and use well-known patterns, reproduce stereotypes and judge others through the prism of what they once heard about them, instead of becoming interested in another person and checking how we actually get in touch with him.

Diversity is often closer than we think. It is enough to look at your family to see that our loved ones make choices different than we would like them to, or behave in a different way than we would expect. Strenuous attempts to shape the other person to fit our wishes will sooner make them distance themselves than meet our expectations.

During arguments, people often take the position that they are right and others are wrong. If our main goal is to convince the other party that they are wrong and to encourage them to change their minds, these conversations usually turn into fruitless arguments. Each side becomes even more entrenched in its position and closes itself to hearing what the other person wants to convey.

“Do you want to be right or have the relationship?”

Of course, you can have both. However, the key is how we build this relationship or how we want to show that we are right. What other people do is usually right and beneficial for them. If they had thought otherwise or could have done otherwise, they would have acted differently. When we accept this and look at the person with curiosity and respect, we have a chance for the other party to share with us their understanding of life and their motives for making such and not other decisions.

The next time you discover that you are trying to control another person to think, act or become like you, remind yourself that the other person is not you and that it is okay for them to be different as long as they do not harm you. yourself or other people. This, of course, works both ways – just like others, you have the right to be different from them, think and live differently, as long as you do not hurt yourself or those around you with your behavior.

In our larger and larger community at the Paley European Institute, we draw from diversity on a daily basis. This helps us to be even more effective and better respond to the needs of our little and quite large patients. In our team, each employee is different and has different characteristics or skills. There is room here for both introverted and extroverted people, those highly sensitive and those who need a lot of stimuli to feel alive. We speak different languages, we often come from different parts of Poland and the world, we create various relationships, we have various passions. We follow the motto: “Nothing human is alien to us.” We want you to feel safe and comfortable with us.

In your stories, we often hear sadness, resentment and shame about how other people treated your children or you, seeing you only as a disability, not a human being. Every day we try to influence the world, also to show in it that each of us is valuable in itself. We are all beautifully different and this is where our strength lies.