What’s so wrong with being an individual? That is something I have often thought about since meeting Felix. A musician from Tanzania, I met while he played his guitar under a tree in a Cape Town park. There is no mistaking his sense of individuality and uniqueness, one of the many ways he chooses to express himself.
And yet, despite being one of the friendliest people I met on my travels through South Africa, he told me of his many experiences of prejudice based on the way he looks. “People just assume I’m out to rob them or something”, he said, “but I just love to play my guitar and watch the world go by.”
Something I have always found fascinating about meeting people from all over the world is how we can all be so similar and yet different at the same time. It’s a contradiction which can be seen all across society, We want to stand out from the crowd, but we want to fit in as well. And we ostracise those who dare stand out just that little bit too much. It seems that we judge people as much by the clothes they chose to wear, as the lives they want to live.
The question is, why?
Why do we allow ourselves to be so governed by these complex social rules? They seem to make so little sense and yet have such a powerful influence on how we lead our daily lives. With so many genuine barriers which stand between us, why allow artificial barriers, such as the way we look, further divide us as human beings sharing the same planet?
I say, let’s celebrate our individuality as people, let’s rejoice in our uniqueness, instead of using these small differences between us to divide us. After all, don’t we already have enough division in our world?