Why is diversity important? We discussed its absence in children’s books, and how to strive to improve it. But how can we explain to people why it’s important, why we all need to fight for this cause? We know it intuitively – but what are the arguments for it?
Firstly, there is an argument to be found in the past. We need to face our reckoning for historical mistakes or misdeeds. It’s important to state the truth of what happened. As a society, we can’t lie to the world and to ourselves. We must face our mistakes and apologise to the people we harmed; and to do so, the first step is to tell the true story of what happened.
The next step is to redress the inequalities history produced. After having worked at properly understanding and honouring the past, it’s time to repair the damage done, and work towards a better future.
Cornelius Castoriadis, a Greek philosopher and psychoanalyst, studied what he called “the Imaginary”. This is the imaginary world, not of people, but of societies. Societies have a way of understanding the world, of explaining it and representing it, which comes through myths or ideologies.
Up to a point, stories reflect our society’s imaginary. Which is why it’s important stories don’t only reflect the injustices which exist, but try to dream up a better world, which will then change our waking/conscious lives. What hits the Zeitgeist, what is suddenly read across a country by nearly everyone, is a sign of what we’re striving to cope with as a society. It’s our imaginary. The more we dream of an equal world, which is rich and diverse, accepting of others, the more we have chances to change mentalities towards making that world happen.
So to be sure we properly understand and pay respects to the past, and to make sure the future will be a better place – we need to create, write and read diverse stories!