Difference In & Indifference — A Distinction

One person likes chocolate ice cream. The the other likes strawberry. Both are insistent and adamant that theirs is best. The above combines the best of both, by the way — those sprinkled, baked wontons have chocolate in them!

What helps?

There is a distinction I find helpful, even when it comes to ice cream. On the one hand, acknowledging a “difference in” is essential. Of course, nobody has to like chocolate. Of course, nobody is obligated to like strawberry. Whether it be due to taste, visual preference, memories of grandma, preference for fruit, of just because, preference for ice cream isn’t resolved by statistical analysis. It remains preference. Preference in which difference is natural and normal.

What connects our ice cream lovers, I would suggest, is appreciation. “Though I don’t agree with your preference of strawberry, I can really appreciate that you love ice cream.” It’s passion that then connects us rather than minor details that so commonly divide us. It’s appreciation for passion. Appreciation for love of. Even in difference.

Contrast this with “indifference,” the dynamic that I’m connoting here as “not caring.” “Indifferent to” is without feeling. Without care. Without concern. Without regard. Indifference is a tad more dismissive isn’t it. Probably even has a topping of judgement on it and a cherry of othering. “Don’t talk to me about chocolate ice cream — it bores me,” spoken with indifference, devalues what that chocolate lover cares about. That’s something to be careful about.

The tricky territory here is when “indifference” is overlaid and confused with “difference in.” I may not share your love of Nascar, but I can definitely get excited about your love of something, even speed. You may not share my love of writing poetry, but you can meet me with excitement about loving something, or the arts. Because chances are, you love something also.

Ah, these days of conflict, increased tension, polarization, shadow-projection, and the like — they are really something aren’t they. No, it’s not as simple as ice cream. I get that. But perhaps there is something for all of us in lifting our tastes a bit, challenging ourselves to deliberately relate to underlaying passion. It would be a shame to not see the love of dessert because of the flavor of the ice cream.