Why are so many of us dismissive of anyone who does not carry the same cultural baggage as we do? And why do we so rarely attempt to shoulder backpacks that are of a different style and weight from our own?
This lack of curiosity is not only with regard to people from foreign lands or who have a different skin colour, it also applies to those who are from different class levels and different age groups within our own communities. In the UK such attitudes are muddying the waters with regard to the election of a new Mayor for London and the upcoming vote re remaining in the European Union. In the US they are causing bitter wrangles in the Presidential Primaries. Australia and Papua New Guinea are currently at loggerheads over them. Indeed, all over the globe, attitudes to human diversity divide societies. In 1969 the chorus of Blue Mink’s first hit, “Melting Pot” went:
"What we need is a great big melting pot
Big enough to take the world and all it’s got
And keep it stirring for a hundred years or more
And turn out coffee-coloured people by the score”
Those were important words for a time when racial segregation was being challenged and beginning to be overturned. But far more beneficial than the mixing and matching of skin-colour proposed by those lyrics is the benefit they imply of the interweaving of brainpower from all classes and age-ranges across and within World society that such a mix would engender.
For centuries, multitudes of digs within various geological strata have taught us enormous amounts about the abilities, sensibilities, activities and ideals of people who lived before us. But the most common thing we learn from the huge amount of chips of stone, pins and other artifacts excavated is that ‘many hands make light work’ and that the more ways of working different peoples have in common the more likely they are to be able to communicate, solve problems, decide issues, and live peaceably alongside each other.
It would seem then, that advances in communication have always been of benefit to human kind. Technological advances, on the other hand, have been something that societies have always had to catch up with and often bit by bit. Until, in the late 20th Century, a worldwide scatter of simple tools enabled a worldwide power-out of information at unimaginable speeds.
Surely, with this information now at the fingertips of virtually every one of us - no matter what our provenance - we should be working together to integrate and bolster even further the beneficial effects of the biggest stirring of minds and digits the world has ever known?
If we choose to do that we can become the first generation to enter the innermost reaches of the melting pot of human nature and gain maximum value from the artifacts we find there.
Should we decide to forgo the opportunity of sharing such new information, however, our generation may well become one that no amount of chip-and-pin currency can save from destruction.