Different Drummer and Diversity

February 10, 2006

Henry David Thoreau wrote we should "march to the beat of a different drummer" many years ago. Sequestering himself to Walden Pond, he sought secret solace in the civilization of his beloved Concord while proclaiming to the world his solitude. Proving all the while the drummer within each of us dares to march out of step with the rhythm of the world, yet falls back into the paces of the society that bore his discomfort. When we venture to not only hear a different drummer, but to follow that beat as though it were our own, we really create our own score, our own cadence and this demonstration of individuality announces loudly to the world that we believe in the passion that propels us.

Our present society places much emphasis on the ever-ambiguous concept of "diversity." Diversity from what? As individuals, by the nature of our genetic makeup, we are both identical and distinct. Comprised of 46 chromosomes, we all share common human characteristics, different skin tones, perhaps, but we have the same number of bones, muscles, nerves, etc. Surely the "stuff" of which we are made cannot be diversified. Diversity tends to indicate pigmentation and the degree of melanin is an accident of birth. Diversity also points towards different cultures or societies, again largely an accident of birth. Better to celebrate what a person exercises control over in his or her life, than to focus on that which cannot fluctuate. Studying diversity might rather be better served if the concentration were on the "different drummer" within each of instead of factors determined by birth.

Martin Luther King
Martin Luther King espoused that we 'judge each individual on the content of his character' not by the color of his skin. Yet, when we focus on pigmentation with respect to "diversity" we lump people together by their skin-color or group affiliation and not the song in their hearts, the antithesis of what Luther-King taught. A group cannot sing a solo and the pure voice of one mind singing clearly cannot rise above the noise of the collective.

Your song
We've all heard a song and kept repeating the words and melody in our heads for hours afterwards. Haunting our minds for a time, the song permeates our thoughts yet eventually dissipates. We either tire of repeating it or humming, singing or whistling the music, or we find something else to preoccupy us. Yet, the song of ourselves, cannot escape us. Some days we sound like minor tunes extolling our sadness to our friends, and other days, we represent a light, major-key melody, happy with life. The musical arrangement of "you" may change from day to day, but your melody - your makeup, your foundation - remains intact. You cannot preoccupy yourself or forget your melody but you control everything about it.

Your arrangement
Thoreau's drummer represented only one aspect of how we relate to the world. The pace of your interaction with the world around you bears significance, yet life involves more than timing. Just as an aria contains flourishes and dazzling arpeggios, your life resonates the brilliance of your creativity and expansion beyond a simple melody line. Dissonant chords as well as augmented chords add character and style to your song of life. Most people don't hear their own music, don't sing their own words, don't follow the beat of their OWN drummer. Music offers us infinite combinations of notes, chords (relationships), timing, harmony and more. Just as our own lives stretch beyond any finite concept of "diversity" music reaches into our souls to demand we generate our own unique song to the world. No one sang your song before you and no one will sing your song after you. You entered into this world as a unique and magnificent expression of God and the world is a better place because of you.

When you hear clearly the music of your soul, your melody defines you, your tempo moves you forward and your harmony finds your place in the world.

Fortissimo! Sing out loudly, "I'm alive!"


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