Who wants to be a Cyberman?

Cybermen-1“Yes, we are all individuals”… a classic sketch from Monty Python’s Life of Brian.  It illustrates the point well that whilst we all want to be different, we do take comfort from being part of a crowd or blending in with our tribe.

During that sketch, one chap near the front shouts “I’m not [an individual]” and he is shushed down by the crowd.  Anyone daring to be too different, or speak out is silenced by the majority.  We simply like things to be clearly defined within the context of our own or our groups definition of normality.

In reality if we were all the same then life would be pretty grey, our humanity and creativity stripped from us.   So for Doctor Who fans this would be like becoming Cybermen, our very human essence stripped away and we would simply function as machines acting in a collective.

In Star Wars, the army of Storm Troupers were clones, again all stripped of their human differences and expression.  All very efficient at following orders but not able to think or function independently.  They could never find those drones they were looking for!

Storm Troupers
Automatons are very efficient, don’t get me wrong, where a task needs doing repetitively, doing without emotion and to a consistent standard acting like a machine, emotionless and without distraction of a personal identity.

We are human, we are not machines and our own personal identity and expression is what sets us apart as a species.  It is our family, our education, our hobbies, and our friends that have all created a uniqueness of personality and beliefs. We are the product of our upbringing and life experiences. No two people, even identical twins, are the same, just like our fingerprints or a snowflake.

Dalek Pride

When we look at the Dalek from Doctor Who, they are living beings, tormented by their pain of evolution and existence, but they are individuals, with different lights and colours, voices and personalities – but still a evil and bent on emotionless distruction, keen to exterminate and purify the universe of all non-dalek beings that don’t meet their narrow definition of what should be – zero tolerance, very binary, you are either a Dalek or you are exterminated!

So we are human, and we are individuals – we value the fact that we can think for ourselves, we would define our freedom by being able to express and make choices.  We love to exist in groups, tribes or clubs, in a community with like-minded individuals or those that share our ambitions and successes, it gives us a sense of belonging and safety.

Why then do we poke fun, take the mickey, make hurtful remarks, and point out someone else’s differences and individuality,  surely we love being an individual ourselves and so do others, what right to we have to deny them what we so crave for ourselves?

This type of behavior is discrimination and prejudice, it damages the recipient.  The person has not asked you to make these remarks.  As a culture we like to have some rivalry but this can step over the mark and make someone feel worthless and in extreme cases suicidal.

Why do we do that?

“Everybody is somebody’s else’s weirdo” ― Scott Adams

It is our tribe mentality, our social grouping, we take strength and security from the group mentality, football supporters, political alliances, religious beliefs, we crave recognition and want to make sure we maintain our place in the hierarchy of status in our group.  We judge other groups, we label, we stereotype and generalise about others; young people are erratic drivers, older people are all frail, black people are better athletes, white people are more intelligent, overweight individuals are lazy… the list can go on but we know that not all Scottish people drink whisky or are stingy with their money.

As a left-hander! I’ve been called “cack-handed”, I was taught to write strangely, we would have had our hands tied behind our backs, hit with a cane, and even burnt at the stake in medieval times.  I know that left-handers are on average more intelligent, or is that just a label and stereotype I am proud of?  I have had to grow up in a world designed for right-handed people, by right handed people – is that fair?

In a fair and equal society our minority grouping should be given equal opportunities to succeed – but I still have to cope with and overcome problems with scissors, special fountain pens with bent nibs, and having to write with my wrist bent to avoid smudging my work.  With the advent of Equality and inclusion, left-handers could get their own checkbooks with the spine on the right.

So why should we as individuals or in business be bothered about individuality of diversity.

Well, I have already said that, we all want to be individuals and part of a team, and that life would be pretty boring if everyone wore the same clothes, had the same TV, drove the same car, same colour, food was all the same, everyone had the same opinions.  Diversity of culture, of faith, and of beliefs brings opportunities. Variety of food in both supermarkets and restaurants. Diversity of age and ability brings services; bus routes, disabled access, schools, colleges and universities – you or your family may not need these services now, but one day? When your car breaks down? All the bus routes have gone because there is no one there to use them?

How can you tell about someone’s individuality…. you can observe? – visually? audibly? – how someone dresses, their age, their accent?

Can you tell all disabilities by looking? Is someone disabled enough to receive support? Who judges?

Why are there always far too many disabled spaces in front of the supermarket, and they are always empty? Because if the spaces fill up, then a disabled person is going to be completely disadvantaged and unable to feel included so we as a society have to over provide in order for some people to have equality – we need more than equality we need equity!

So in business, we have our staff, our customers and suppliers to consider. Our diversity ethos and the way we are inclusive creates a positive working environment, it allows individuals to bring their experiences and culture into the workplace, their individual ideas and experiences can help each business flourish. It will allow your diverse business can react and service the needs of a diverse customer base?

Innovation thrives with a diverse mix of ideas and opinions.  

Can you tell someone’s individuality on the phone? – sometimes; accent, dialect, tone, impediment – but does that tell you if they are in a wheelchair, if they are white or black, Christian or Muslim?  No, you cannot… but we constantly use stereotypes and labels to prejudice or bias.

As a species, we are tribal, we like to be part of a team, it gives us strength and reasserts our own beliefs. As individual snowflakes we can’t always make a difference, sometimes we may melt and fade away…

In the same way that as we act as a group or collective, then a collection of snowflakes acting together can become and unstoppable force – just pause and think of the damage an avalanche can do to a community, the uncontrolled destruction! – we need to remember to channel our own force in a controlled and positive way!

Gang rivalry breeds Intolerance and Extremism
We need to be careful about building an intolerance, and sometimes that can overflow in to extremism, or our unstoppable force will become destructive and detrimental to society, just like an avalanche of individual snowflakes

So think about how the victims of discrimination or prejudice feel..!

do we want to be victims of prejudice ourselves? – NO!

do we want to be bullied or name called? – NO!

do we want to be treated fairly, given the opportunity to be the best we can be? – YES!

but we kinda do it to others – don’t we, have we walked a mile in their shoes?

Let’s examine the verbiage in the recent General Election – did you see and hear some of the vile remarks and personal insults against the party leads.  Look at the headlines of the tabloids on Friday morning after – the imagery and comments on social media.

If you voted Labour, how did you feel? Smug? “Told you so?”

If you voted Tory how did you feel? Downhearted?

Suddenly we have a divided nation, battling each other!

Is that really what we want…?


Prespective is Everything
We quickly fall into stereotyping and start to label – we need to all stop propagating these myths, because they are soon ingrained in culture and will take generations to dispel; as we know, not all old people are frail, not all young people are noisy, not all white people go red in the sun, not all pregnant mothers are unreliable in the work place, not all football fans are hooligans, in the same way that not all unemployed people are lazy, not all Irish people are terrorists, not all Muslims a fanatical or extremist, and certainly not all those with a mental illness need to pull themselves together!

As a result of these stereotypes we can form prejudices, disadvantage someone unfairly, deny them opportunity, or worse still, build intolerance or even extremist tendencies against their identity.

We discriminate by association – friends or relations of someone, parents of a gay person, friend of a transgender person can suffer discrimination or prejudice themselves, all because there are associated or know someone with a particular characteristic or label.

We don’t have to agree with others opinions or beliefs, we just need to accept that their faith or outlook is as equality valid as our own.  Exploring and discussing our difference together allows us to grow as a society and benefit

Who likes “Fish and chips”, “Sausage & Mash”, “Salad”, “Chinese food”, or a “Curry”? It’s about variety and choice isn’t it?  As we have become more diverse as a society we have a richness of experiences we can all enjoy.

Be an individual, support other individuals who are like yourself or have similar beliefs, but remember to also embrace the difference in others, and in return they will celebrate the difference in you?

So when you hear intolerance, or experience or read about someone being prejudiced, bullied or name called think about how you would feel, how worthless and sad and even frightened you would be! – even suicidal? {shrug}

So I leave you with a thought….

Who wants to be a Cyberman or worse still a Dalek set on wanton extermination of those who don’t meet their own narrow minded criteria of normality..!

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