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Human Differences

  • ... albinos aren't reproached for having pink eyes and whitish hair, why should they hold it again me for being a lesbian? It's a question of nature: my queerness isn't a vice, isn't 'deliberate,' and harms no one.

  • Being other than normal is a perilous advantage.

    • Natalie Clifford Barney,
    • "Scatterings" (1910), in Anna Livia, ed., A Perilous Advantage: The Best of Natalie Clifford Barney ()
  • It is easy enough to sympathize with and sponsor in another person thoughts and feelings which are like our own — it is like approving of one's self — but giving your sympathy and your understanding and your love to a person who is in the throes of thoughts and feelings that are different from yours, and different from anything that you personally have ever experienced, that is another thing ...

  • Even in the same family, one child will always instinctively know when to ask for things, and another won't.

  • Light came to me when I realized that I did not have to consider any racial group as a whole. God made them duck by duck and that was the only way I could see them.

  • Unity, not uniformity, must be our aim. We attain unity only through variety. Differences must be integrated, not annihilated, nor absorbed.

  • The ignoring of differences is the most fatal mistake in politics or industry or international life: every difference that is swept up into a bigger conception feeds and enriches society; every difference which is ignored feeds on society and eventually corrupts it.

  • Give your difference, welcome my difference, unify all difference in the larger whole — such is the law of growth. The unifying of difference is the eternal process of life — the creative synthesis, the highest act of creation, the at-onement.

  • ... fear of difference is fear of life itself.

  • We must face life as it is and understand that diversity is its most essential feature.

  • It is possible to conceive conflict as not necessarily a wasteful outbreak of incompatibilities, but a normal process by which socially valuable differences register themselves for the enrichment of all concerned.

  • Nature made us individuals, as she did the flowers and the pebbles; but we are afraid to be peculiar, and so our society resembles a bag of marbles, or a string of mould candles. Why should we all dress after the same fashion? The frost never paints my windows twice alike.

  • Why do people who like to get up early look with disdain on those who like to lie in bed late? And why do people who like to work feel superior to those who prefer to dream?

  • Trust me, there are as many ways of living as there are men, and one is no more fit to lead another, than a bird to lead a fish, or a fish a quadruped.

  • People are pretty much alike. It's only that our differences are more susceptible to definition than our similarities.

  • ... I have always noticed that people only think you are stupid if you do things differently from them.

  • If the souls of lives were voiced in music, there are some that none but a great organ could express, others the clash of a full orchestra, a few to which nought but the refined and exquisite sadness of a violin could do justice. Many might be likened unto common pianos, jangling and out of tune, and some to the feeble piping of a penny whistle, and mine could be told with a couple of nails in a rusty tin-pot.

  • Variety, individuality, peculiarity, eccentricity and indeed crankiness are agreeable to the British mind; they make life more interesting.

  • There are more differences between poor people than between middle-class people.

  • Institutionalized rejection of differences is an absolute necessity in a profit economy which needs outsiders as surplus people. As members of such an economy, we have all been programmed to respond to the human differences between us with fear and loathing and to handle that difference in one of three ways: ignore it, and if that is not possible, copy it if we think it is dominant, or destroy it if we think it is subordinate.

    • Audre Lorde,
    • "Age, Race, Class, and Sex," speech (1980), Sister Outsider ()
  • There's more variation among human groups than between human groups.

  • Nudists are fond of saying that when you come right down to it everyone is alike, and, again, that when you come right down to it everyone is different.

    • Diane Arbus,
    • "Notes on the Nudist Camp," Magazine Work ()
  • The very thing about people that makes the human race interesting is also the thing that makes it so hard to get anything done without the most horrible confusions: no two people think exactly the same way about anything ...

  • It is natural anywhere that people like their own kind, but it is not necessarily natural that their fondness for their own kind should lead them to the subjection of whole groups of other people not like them.

  • The melting-pot idea is futile ... The brew in a melting pot is always boiling over.

  • Meeting people unlike oneself does not enlarge one's outlook; it only confirms one's idea that one is unique.

  • How can he make plans for you to spend the weekend canoeing through river rapids, seemingly oblivious to the fact that your idea of strenuous activity is shopping for slacks?

  • Human beings are more alike than unalike. Whether in Paris, Texas, or Paris, France, we all want to have good jobs where we are needed and respected and paid just a little more than we deserve. We want healthy children, safe streets, to be loved and have the unmitigated gall to accept love. If we are religious, we want a place to perpetuate God. If not, we want a good lecture every once in a while. And everyone wants someplace to party on Saturday nights.

  • We were like a lot of clocks, he thought, all striking different hours, all convinced we were telling the right time.

  • When there is violence against any person in society, because he or she is different, it threatens us all. Only by speaking out are any of us safe.

  • The fact that we are human beings is infinitely more important than all the peculiarities that distinguish human beings from one another ...

  • The music of difference, all alive. / The founders and this people, who set in diversity / The base of our living.

  • The biggest mistake is believing that there is one right way to listen, to talk, to have a conversation — or a relationship.

  • When those closest to us respond to events differently than we do, when they seem to see the same scene as part of a different play, when they say things that we could not imagine saying in the same circumstances, the ground on which we stand seems to tremble and our footing is suddenly unsure.

  • Over time, passion wanes, differences don't.

  • I love different folks.

  • It is perfectly logical and proper to recognize differences between races and colors and creeds — as long as we don't classify them as being better or worse.

  • ... his ordinary dinner-table conversation is nothing but one long series of playful digs or open wisecracks at almost anybody who happens to be of a different class, race, or nationality — or even sex — from his own. He has a very amusing turn of phrase, and he is the sort of man whose remarks get repeated and probably exaggerated. And after a bit I found myself wishing to goodness that he would find some other subject to be funny about, rather than the superficial differences between one lot of human beings and another.

    • Jan Struther,
    • "The Weather of the World," A Pocketful of Pebbles ()
  • What a misfortune it would be, religiously speaking and educationally speaking, if we could only work happily with those who saw things as we do.

  • If only we could accept that there is no difference between us where human values are concerned. Whatever sex. Whatever the life we have chosen to live.

  • My mother and I could always look out the same window without ever seeing the same thing.

  • It is only when the distinction is one of power or superiority that it is agreeable to find yourself different from the group.

  • What a boon disparity is — difference of opinion has never been sufficiently appreciated. It is the unexpected, the unknowable, the divine irrationality of life that saves us.

  • Racism, classism, and sexism will disappear when we accept differences and if we continue to resist loudly and clearly all racist, classist and sexist efforts on the part of other persons to enslave us.

  • The tough-minded ... respect difference. Their goal is a world made safe for differences, where the United States may be American to the hilt without threatening the peace of the world, and France may be France, and Japan may be Japan on the same conditions.

  • Modern existence has thrown many civilizations into close contact, and at the moment the overwhelming response to this situation is nationalism and racial snobbery. ... Contempt for the alien is not the only possible solution of our present contact of races and nationalities. It is not even a scientifically founded solution. Traditional Anglo-Saxon intolerance is a local and temporal culture-trait like any other. ... we have failed to understand the relativity of cultural habits, and we remain debarred from much profit and enjoyment in our human relations with people of different standards, and untrustworthy in our dealings with them.

  • The crucial differences which distinguish human societies and human beings are not biological. They are cultural ...

    • Ruth Benedict,
    • 1943, in Margaret Mead, An Anthropologist at Work: Writings of Ruth Benedict ()
  • The plan of this world is infinite similarity and yet infinite variety.

  • ... society ... is tolerant of crimes, and long suffering with dullness, but it shows no mercy to those who are different from other people.

  • Eliminate irrelevant and inaccurate comunications about what it means to be male or female, black or white, young or old, rich or poor, disabled or temporarily able-bodied, or to hold a particular belief system.

  • The recognition of personal separateness — of others having their own concepts, different from his, because they see things from their position and condition as individuals and not from his own — is not ordinarily possible before a child is seven. Immaturity in adults reveals itself clearly in the retention of this infantile orientation.

  • ... we cannot safely assume that other people's minds work on the same principles as our own. All too often, others with whom we come in contact do not reason as we reason, or do not value the things we value, or are not interested in what interests us.

  • We're all strange inside. We learn how to disguise our differences as we grow up.

  • We of the third sphere are unable to look at Europe or at Asia as they may survey each other. Wherever we go, across Pacific or Atlantic, we meet, not similarity so much as 'the bizarre.' Things astonish us, when we travel, that surprise nobody else.

  • I am visible — see this Indian face — yet I am invisible. I both blind them with my beak nose and am their blind spot. But I exist, we exist. They'd like to think I have melted in the pot. But I haven't, we haven't.

  • Deviance is whatever is condemned by the community. Most societies try to get rid of their deviants. Most cultures have burned and beaten their homosexuals and others who deviate from the sexual common. The queer are the mirror reflecting the heterosexual tribe's fear: being different, being other and therefore lesser, therefore sub-human, in-human, non-human.

  • ... it is possible to be different and still be all right.

  • Differences challenge assumptions.

  • People differ. Some object to the fan dancer, and others to the fan.

  • There is nowhere you can go and only be with people who are like you. It's over. Give it up.

  • There's no one way to dance. And that's kind of my philosophy about everything.

  • Take care! the moment you are different from the rest of the world, everybody is surprised, and the surprise of other people is curiosity, and curiosity is capable of cruelly audacious dealing.

  • You have your opinion, I have mine, and it takes all kinds of nuts and dips to make a party, right?

  • I may be brown as a berry, but that's only secondary, / You can't tell the difference after dark.

    • Alberta Hunter,
    • "You Can't Tell the Difference After Dark," Downhearted Blues ()