We Have More in Common than We Have Differences


Dear Reader:

After decades of teaching in a classroom I would be the first to admit that if we could offer the perfect education to every person on earth it would be the opportunity to travel the world. There is a pattern among world travelers that remains the same….the more different a culture initially seems from our perspectives the closer it becomes when we begin to meet and understand the customs through the eyes of the people who live there.

In every case we discover that as human beings, no matter where our home or culture, we are always more alike than different with our needs and wants.

One of the first children stories we always were read usually dealt with fish…particularly schools of fish. What some of us might never have advanced to…(in our fish reading) is that there are two “schools” of fish or simply ideas on how best to get through life. Biology 101 teaches us that there “schools” of fish and “shoals” of fish. The difference?

A shoal of fish swims together, but they are not swimming in unison or in any coordinated formation. In addition, any fish in the group may stop or break off at any time. If, when swimming with the group, one fish decides to turn in the opposite direction to chat with one of its fishy friends, it’s still shoaling. If it looks down, up, left, right, or at the beautiful coral behind it, it’s still shoaling. 

A school of fish swims together as one fluid formation, with the movements of each fish an essential part of the whole. Fish that school have a team mentality. There’s no “I” in team, and there’s no independent behavior in a school of fish. 

Schooling fish go with the crowd. Uniformity of movement and position is essential. Shoaling fish sometimes go with the crowd, and sometimes do their own thing while hanging out in close proximity.

Schooling fish evade their predators by creating the formation and behavior of a larger creature. A shoal is a similar group of fish, but there’s less strategy in play. It’s working with safety in numbers but without the intricate, synchronized dance.

We humans, use both strategies within our lives. On the whole all humans want the same thing in life regardless of religion, culture, customs or geography…we share one “school” of thought – We all want to live our lives in peace without fear of harm, we want to be able to raise our families in harmony and see them grow and be successful in their lives so family legacies can continue to exist and connections strengthen.

But there is also the important “shoaling” ingredient in our human lives too…we want to be part of the group but still maintain our own individual characteristics, talents, and gifts that can only strengthen the school of people around us if individuality is recognized and accepted. In other words if we recognize diversity as one key ingredient within the “schools” of societal norms. It is okay to turn around and go another direction.

Our Founding Fathers recognized and endorsed this idea while looking at the 13 colonies (following the revolution) as individual colonies but “one” in the sense of our new unity as one country.

E pluribus unum. A motto of the United States; Latin for “Out of many, one.” It refers to the Union formed by the separate states. E pluribus unum was adopted as a national motto in 1776 and is now found on the Great Seal of the United States and on United States currency.

I have always and will always continue to be proud of our country for all the contributions made by the diversity of peoples (facing adversity of all kinds)  to make this place their home.  As more and more of us become interested in our ancestry, where we are from originally, and the stories of courage and sacrifice made by that first generation of Americans in each of our family trees…we, sooner than later, feel such pride in their determination to sacrifice for the ones who would come after them. It is what makes our country great.

So until tomorrow….Let us remember as our country grows older along with us…that we can, like Picasso observed…also grow “riper.” To grow ripe can mean three different things….with fruit…to be tender, with cheese to be matured, and with wine to be rich and intense with diverse flavors.

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

Tomorrow the Ya’s will be leaving for our five-day retreat at Edisto…but sad because Libby will not be able to come. She is facing surgery on her upper spinal column/neck in a few weeks and she has to be very careful not to injure or do anything that might prevent this necessary procedure from taking place. We will miss you sorely my friend.

*But Libby I came up with an idea how to take you along too…at least in spirit…stay tuned.

Since Brooke too is facing surgery on her rotator cusp soon after the retreat …there is absolutely nothing to do but laugh at ourselves and the predicaments we now find ourselves in as we all grow older…I think this sums it up.

The birds or fairies have been busy….another lily…another place where I did not plant it.

Susan Swicegood sent me this cartoon yesterday and I had to laugh…Jackson and I had just been talking about this optical deception that takes place as we grow older…we don’t see our loved ones, family and friends growing older as strangers do…and/or see ourselves.  It made this cartoon even funnier.





About Becky Dingle

I was born a Tarheel but ended up a Sandlapper. My grandparents were cotton farmers in Laurens, South Carolina and it was in my grandmother’s house that my love of storytelling began beside an old Franklin stove. When I graduated from Laurens High School, I attended Erskine College (Due West of what?) and would later get my Masters Degree in Education/Social Studies from Charleston Southern. I am presently an adjunct professor/clinical supervisor at CSU and have also taught at the College of Charleston. For 28 years I taught Social Studies through storytelling. My philosophy matched Rudyard Kipling’s quote: “If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.” Today I still spread this message through workshops and presentations throughout the state. The secret of success in teaching social studies is always in the story. I want to keep learning and being surprised by life…it is the greatest teacher. Like Kermit said, “When you’re green you grow, when you’re ripe you rot.”
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2 Responses to We Have More in Common than We Have Differences

  1. bcparkison says:

    Surprise lilies must be fun to discover.Not sure I have ever had any except the pretty coral ones that arrive with no leaves every year.
    The cartoon funny is pretty funny. When I come across a photo on facebook of friends I went to school with I often wonder…who is that? …boy they look old. lol


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