Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Blending in

Sometimes I wonder what the term "assimilate" really means. Does it refer to something new - having just arrived on the scene - standing out, like a shade of yellow in a sea of blue. Algae and other natural organisms take over, orienting it, exploring it, almost cajoling it until it turns it in a subtle tinge of green that blends in perfectly into the blues. Does it refer to letting go of your convictions to fit into the norm. Does it mean toning down your voice so that you are part of the common crowd. Can a balance be struck between who you really are and fitting in.

Sometimes I find that fitting means letting go - even if it is temporarily. Sometimes I am let down by humanity's inability to see past superficial differences. Deep down we are all the same. Why invent such a word - assimilate. Integrate. Become a part of. Become absorbed into. The word brings with it unpleasant connotations. I envision a person struggling hard to become recognised, only to find that the most painless means of achieving this is to forego much of what makes up part of that person. It brings connotations of alienation and subordination by being less complete than one truly is. Hiding, masking or letting go of personality traits and more so ways of life that would otherwise seem unimaginable. It mostly happens to immigrants, refugees, those forced to dwell in a life that they did not choose themselves and even those who for the sake of transcending boundaries, assimilate to build bridges of understanding.

It seems that acceptance is the ulterior motive behind assimilation. What is the alternative then. Stick to one's guns and gracefully allow others to accept you instead - assimilation or no assimilation. A lonely battle that may be worth fighting. It all depends on that which you have to choose to forgo. Is that worth fighting to keep. In most cases, yes. No one should have to let go of an important piece of their history or their form just to be accepted. The capricious nature of people and society is a certainty. Acceptance today may be the old fashion of tomorrow. Sooner or later, the algae will tire of provoking a tinge of a complete green. What you will find is a new shade emerging. A direction of acceptance gone the other way. Playing a game with assimilation so that instead of conforming and succumbing to the "norm", it becomes the acceptance of the new as is. Learning from the other and in the process creating a new word - diversity - the true meaning of the notion of blending in.

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