Narcissism can be defined as being capable of only loving mirror images of ourselves. It is easy to confuse narcissism for love. After all, most of us think that our values are good values, that the path we choose to take is a, if not the, path of righteousness.
If we are right, then binary logic dictates that others are wrong. It’s an easy step from I’m right to you’re wrong, I’m good so your bad. It’s easy, but like most easy paths, it’s not a righteous one.
For years one of my standard lines has been, “I really like me, but I don’t want the whole world to be just like me.” It’s a sincere observation that covers multiple topics.
For starters, diversity makes us strong. Biologists tell us that there is nothing more vulnerable to destruction than a homogeneous biosphere. If a deadly virus, whether literal or metaphorical, gets a foothold in a population that is all the same then the entire population is at risk.
With diversity, some elements of the population are at risk while others might have complete immunity to the invasion. This is certainly so for people as well, whether the destructive force is biological, sociological or psychological. We all need to be, as Marlo Thomas would say, “Free to be you and me.”
It’s also true because, wonderful as I am and hard as I try, I can never be anything but a flawed vessel, a vessel that sees and understands some things quite clearly but is completely blind to many truths: Truths that I haven’t even considered, yet alone experienced or processed. A narcissist can’t see beyond his own world to even comprehend that truth is subjective.
Let me say that again, lest you think I misspoke: Truth is subjective.
Philosophically speaking there may be One Truth for many simple subjects but we are incapable of experiencing anything objectively. By definition, observation is subjective. The Age of Reason is a crock of ale. Human beings can strive for more objectivity and less subjectivity, but we can only experience life through our own lens. A lens that, with diversity, becomes more finely ground
And that’s one of the wonderful things about diversity! When we encounter a perspective that is different from our own we are given an opportunity to learn. To grow.
The other person’s perspective is, by definition, also subjective, but that does not make it a priori wrong, just- subjective. We are given incredible opportunities for growth when we see the world from a different lens, when we encounter people and cultures different from us and ours. We vastly limit our potential for growth if we only associate with mirror images of ourselves.
The world is full of too much wonder to only look in a mirror, to only surround ourselves with “like,” whether that “like” is similar in appearance, political views, religious beliefs or all of the above.
There’s seven colors in a rainbow. Go R-O-Y-G-B-I-V a little. Diversity’s beauty is breath taking.