Different is Good

As I mentioned in a previous post, I do a part-time job with my car; I go to Pearson airport to pick up Japanese students who come to Canada to learn English, and bring them to their host family’s place. I often enjoy conversation with them. One day I met a girl who came from Western Japan, or Kansai. I noticed her Kansai accent, but she did not use Kansai dialect. She told me that she had spent some days with a group of people who came from Eastern Japan, or Kanto, who spoke “standard” Japanese, and they told her “your language is odd”. It’s not a good attitude, but sadly it’s not uncommon in Japan. She said that since then she hesitates to speak Kansai dialect when talking with people who use “standard” Japanese like me. Then I told her that I had decided to leave Japan and live in Canada, and one of the reasons is that Canadians recognize difference. If you do something different from other majority of people in Japan, people typically say “you are strange“, while in similar situations in Canada people say “you are different“. She seemed to like this notion.

A while after that, I found that Angelina Jolie spoke out even further. As written in this internet article, she told kids “different is good”. This is what she actually said:

When I was little, like Maleficent, I was told that I was different. And I felt out of place — too loud, too full of fire, never good at sitting still, never good at fitting in. And, then one day I realized something, something that I hope you all realize: Different is good.

How encouraging is it even for adults? The audience’s enthusiastic reaction assures us that people can be proud of “being different”.

This may sound odd, or may rather sound natural in a sense, but the notion of “being different” differs depending on the situation. Her speech still implies that being different is normally considered to be something negative even in North America. The situation in which her classmates told her “you are different” and the situation in which my design classmates told me “you are different” ware probably very different, and the message she took and the message I took must have been different as well. But in either case people can be proud of being different.

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