Diversity in AquaWorld
Remember how I wrote awhile back about my aquarium and the rogue guppy that jumped out of the tank thinking he would get the food quicker? Well, he was replaced and a few other types of fishes have been added since then. Little did I know what type of ecosphere I was creating.
In most pet stores that sell fish they will group them in tanks for 'community fish', 'semi-aggressive fish' and 'mean as pitbull fish'. Ideally, you should not mix the occupants in your home aquarium without creating a war to rival anything the middle east is now seeing. Being a person who enjoys diversity in groups of people, I figured that would translate to the fish world, also. Here's what my experiment in fish tank diversity taught me.
One, just because a 'semi-aggressive' shark looks nice and gentle does not mean that after a few weeks he won't begin hiding underneath the rocks and plants in wait for innocent tetras and guppies. Swoosh! One quick dart and Mr. Tetra is missing part of a tail. Another dart later in the day and Mrs. Platy just lost a fin and part of her side. At this point, none were life threatening attacks, but it was rather sad to see this happen, so Mr. Shark went to his own bowl to live alone until he can get along with others.
Then, I noticed that behind the miniature Parthenon in the back of the tank, apparently I had a "Brokeback Aquarium" movie being filmed. These two same-gender guppies were seemingly canoodling a little too much for the appropriateness of my water world environment. I have tried all manner of ways to keep them separated and to interest them in other inhabitants, but they always seem to wind back behind the Parthenon. Oy! What's a guy to do?
The first of the week, Mrs. Platy began to pop out the babies one evening and I noticed with horror that some of the other fish seemed to consider these tiny creatures as food and were poised behind Mama Platy gobbling up her younguns as fast as they could. I rushed to her rescue and after moving her to a separate container, managed to keep the rest of her brood intact.
I have a number of different species of fish in the aquarium, most of them just get along with each other regardless of breed, color or gender. There were a few that caused problems, but they were in the small minority.
How diverse is your neighborhood, your workplace, your city, your shopping and restaurant favorites? Growing up as a teenager in the 1960s, I can remember the efforts to create diversity in school and neighborhoods and the violence that sometimes erupted. However, I can also remember when my high school first experienced a diverse student body that we really didn't seem to notice anything different. These students were our neighbors, played in the band with us, sat with us at lunch, etc. We didn't make an effort to be accepting....it just happened.
Our neighborhoods, schools and churches still seem to have a problem with areas of diversity, but it is not always an ethnic problem. Do you have people of different religions as neighbors who may wear different style clothing that makes them "different". Are there any gays or lesbians in your neighborhood, school or (horrors) in your church? Are there any folks that you pass in the stores or restaurants who obviously may not be as well off financially as you? These are all situations of diversity.
Do we act like the shark in my tank and dart in and out nibbling at them by gossip, innuendos and ignorance until they are living a crippled existence? Do we punish their children for what we perceive as the problems with the parent or parents? Do we refuse to wave or acknowledge them thinking that if we ignore them, then they really cease to exist?
What did Christ teach? Love your neighbor as yourself. In Him there is no Jew or Greek (or Gentile). In the big sheet vision to Peter, we are taught that all creatures, including humans, are acceptable to God and we should follow that example. Now, I'm not suggesting that we go up to all our diverse neighbors and passer-bys, grab them with a big hug, kiss 'em and tell them that we love them. Just do as Christ did. He went about doing good, loving all people regardless of social standing, ethnicity and lifestyle (remember the naked demon possessed man, the woman accused of adultery, the prostitues, etc).
None of us are better or worse in God's eyes than those around us. We are equally loved by Him and He expects, no, He commands us to love each other as He loved us. If you can rationalize around that one, then good luck.
My aquarium is a diverse place; a community of harmony as a general rule, but occasionally some fish disturb the peace. In my god-like role to them, I can just flush the troublemakers. What more can God do to us?
Oh dear, as I sit here tapping away, the guppies are heading back to the Parthenon.
And for today my friends, this has been the gospel according to Jimmy.