Being different

I come upon this sort of situation every year and every year it makes me laugh, sometimes a bit uncomfortably. Did you know that crop farmers often rotate their corn and soybean fields such that corn is grown in a particular field one year and then that field is planted to soybeans the following year? This is done because corn pests don’t usually like soybeans, and visa versa, and more importantly soybeans (as legumes) are able to augment nitrogen-depleted soil with this important nutrient. Because a few corn seeds will lay in a field planted to soybeans there are always one or two corn plants among the mature beans. Every time I see a single corn-stalk standing tall in a vast field of soybeans I think to myself that it is indeed OK to be different – even for plants. If it’s OK for plants to be different then surely it must be OK for me to be different. One of my favorite t-shirts shows a number of fish schooling in the same direction, save one; the words on the shirt read It’s OK to be different. As I made my way to town this morning I listened to a BBC interview with a Washington lawyer about the challenges of being a Sikh in post 9/11 America. The story was a follow-up to the recent shootings at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin. It was disturbing to hear just how often it is, in fact, not OK (and even dangerous) to be different in this country. It seems that some of us don’t have the power to distinguish and to differentiate – how unfortunate for all of us.

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