surinenglish

THE BOTTOM LINE

Diversity matters - and it matters how we deal with it

Torremolinos is full of faces gazing from the street posters promoting diversity. The local town hall is running the 'Diversity Matters' campaign with focus on sexual orientation.

The pursuit of diversity has always been a big thing in many cultures. However, today's diversity is often thought to mean race, ethnicity, gender or, as in the case of Torremolinos, sexual preference. Indeed, the term can also refer to the dimensions of age, physical abilities, socio-economic status, political beliefs or even individuals' unique attributes, experiences and lifestyles, among others.

My concept of diversity encompasses acceptance and respect or at least... understanding. Mutual understanding is important especially on the Costa del Sol where lots of people from different countries have settled, and where plenty of multinationals have come to relax under the sun. Here we always have to keep in mind that each individual is unique. This means that we have to be tolerant to both - people who spend hundreds of euros on a bottle of wine in Marbella and a person who is standing in the queue for the soup kitchen in Vélez.

The aforementioned diversity, tolerance and also equality are often stressed in the same context and thereby seem to be synonymous. However, in my opinion these terms might be identified as the three main levels in creating a, let's say, fairer society.

Everything should start with tolerance mainly based on recognising our differences. Afterwards, diversity might 'come' and easily take root in the prepared society. And only then, does equality take its turn, or rather, the environment where everyone is treated the same and has the same opportunities. However, treating people equally does not necessarily involve treating them all the same. Moreover, equality might kill that important diversity, especially by overzealous enthusiasm reflected by flying flags and waving fists, and surely without making others be like others. Otherwise, bright individuality might 'provoke' irritation in the (apparently) 'correct' society and end in zero-tolerance, again.

Finally, I would stress that diversity is not only about tolerating difference. It is a set of conscious practices. Torremolinos historically has invested a lot trying to create an environment where all people would feel comfortable and important. And in that sense, I can't help highlighting the significant achievement of our open-minded resort in terms of diversity and equality - currently refurbishing their train station that will facilitate access for persons with disabilities.

After all, they are also a part of that trendy 'diversity', i.e. knowing how to relate to those qualities and conditions that are different from our own.

So, the best contribution that anyone can make is to learn to live without prejudices arising from our past experiences, including customs and traditions of the country we grew up in.