Human Rubik’s Cubes
You often hear the expression that people are like venn diagrams; they’re made up of lots of different aspects that – at the centre crossroads – explains the whole picture. But what if I told you that people are not venn diagrams at all, but Rubik’s cubes... Invented in the late 1970s by Hungarian sculptor and professor of architecture Ernő Rubik, the Rubik’s cube has captured imaginations for more than 40 years. That small six-sided coloured puzzle has a cult following, resulting in a global speed-cubing phenomenon (side note: if you haven’t seen the Netflix documentary, Speed Cubers, I HIGHLY recommend!). Originally advertised as having over three billion combinations but only one solution, it’s said there are about 43 quintillion possible configurations! To help you wrap your head around that number, if you had one standard-sized Rubik’s Cube for each permutation, you could cover the Earth’s surface 275 times... wow... Anyway, there’s a point to my nerding here... As a white, middle class, cis male I have it very easy in comparison to so many people.
That can feel quite jarring to some, because on the surface I’m not those things: I am a man living with a disability. I’m also a veteran who, left untreated, has severe mental health issues. I exist in a lot of other diversity groups that I didn’t before. What I find really interesting is people like to take these issues and put them in isolation. These ‘boxes’ exist independently and they don’t interact in my life. We haven’t even considered the ‘boxes’ of race, sexuality or socio-economics. The more that I educate myself on these matters, the more I see if happening – of taking singular issues and separating from a person’s bigger picture. But that’s what makes us human; we are the Rubik’s cube.
While we belong to similar ‘boxes’, they don’t define who we are as a person. They are just part of the story of what makes us unique. I’m not a disability. I’m not a veteran. I’m not a person with a mental illness. I am Ben; I’m all those things. When you belong to diversity groups, it can be so easy to lose your identify in many ways.
People treat you the way those boxes define a person, and that’s not fair. A homoesexual shouldn’t be defined by the way they love; the same way a refugee shouldn’t be defined by their adversity. I’m not one or the other, and I certainly can’t change jackets every time someone speaks to one of those ‘boxes’ I tick. I’m not the first one to talk about these issues, but it’s an insight that’s recently been brought to light while developing my leadership course. These issues don’t live independently.
Take into consideration the person; not the box or boxes they tick. Remember that whatever face you’re seeing at the time is what you see, but there are infinite combinations that are available.
As many as 43 quintillion...
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