In our current society of misleading media influences, many often live according to what they are told is right, rather than by a personal definition of virtue. While many of us tend to live a life in which we accept the truths put forth by society, what we should really be doing is pursuing our very own description of truth. By ingesting common societal precepts— the beliefs and lifestyles that are most readily accessible to us— we are disregarding other ways of life that might better represent ourselves. To reject oneself from the cultural possibilities that exist outside of immediate reach is to live a life of ignorance. Such a life is one in which we agree with ideals which we do not fully understand, namely based on the fact that we have nothing with which to compare these ideals. Contrary to this is a life of diversity: the recognition and appreciation of all existential practices, those that we are inclined to experience, along with those from which we deviate. The purpose of my life is to value diversity, through an active expulsion of ignorance in myself and in others.
In my self-fulfilling promotion of diversity, I must consciously employ intellectual curiosity. Specifically, this means that I shall seek an education that meets my own mental capacity, both through personal instruction and exploration, and through positive reception of the information that others can offer me. This objective will require that I be ambitious in the search for knowledge: quantifiable and factual information, such as academic material, as well as in the search for wisdom: awareness that can only be achieved through personal experience and consideration to the experiences of others.
Such a goal, which I call higher learning, is identifiable with a vast universal perspective. This perspective—a reverence for unfamiliar lifestyles or ideals— can only be achieved through cultural exploration, explicitly through travel. The type of travel that I refer to is not to be thought of as merely recreational vacation. Travel instead means to expose oneself to differing lifestyles by becoming a part of them completely. A person can only come to respect diversity by taking an empirical approach to life, i.e. undergo a widespread amount of both pleasure and travail in the process of extending one’s cultural comprehension.
I personally have begun this empirical process by keenly participating as a citizen of two nationalities— American and Brazilian. My entire life has been spent in recurring traversal between two home countries. Through this persistent exchange of culture, I have built an international community of family and friends, which have not only made me feel socially cherished and content, but have provided me with several forms of love that are distinct and enjoyable. Acting as a relativist by encouraging myself to observe the validity of all lifestyles, I can obtain pleasure and knowledge from both of my families equally. For example, while I utilize and express a deep gratitude for the economic comforts that my American family has, I can still return to Brazil and live a frugal life there, due to my typically impoverished surroundings. Therefore, I have already seen that my quest for a life of diversity must encompass both of the following: a heightened understanding of my own view of life’s meaning, as well as the comfort of social liberality.
Traveling between the Northwestern United States and Northeastern Brazil, I have become a person who is respectful and insightful. I speak three languages, an ability which undeniably augments my chance for any type of success on a global scale. Furthermore, I can acclimatize amongst groups of various social, financial, and economic backgrounds. My paradoxical cultural background has raised my chances of having an opportunistic life, since my communication skills surpass that of the average person.
Through my practice of true diversity, I have been trained to adapt to myriad living environments. I am a person who is thus highly appreciative of life’s simple necessities, such as food, water, a home, and the right to learn. My gratitude for these staples of humanity is higher than of a person who has spent his or her entire life in a fantasy, an enclosed bubble in the world in Ashland, Oregon. I recognize the admittedly excessive luxuries I have in Oregon, because I know at least some of what is reality for the rest of the world. The distinction that must be made here, is that a being that has secluded himself from the world has an uninformed outlook on what it really means to “value diversity.” While this is a phrase that is flagrantly used to excess in supposed culturally-embracing communities, few fully understand the term. Only a minority of Americans have slightly tasted the realistic hardships of life elsewhere.
Since I have already begun my path to exploring multiple behaviors, beliefs, and actions, I realize I am nowhere near completing my goal. Being convinced that I possess perhaps a bit more wisdom than the average citizen, I am aware of how much wisdom I still can acquire. My expulsion of ignorance in myself must continue by a personal priority and devotion to any experience I may have that will show me a new perspective. Such devotion will include persistent travel, particularly to regions that practice lifestyles, religions, and social patterns, which are most strikingly dissimilar to those with which I have been raised.
My path will involve analyzing and acknowledging various forms of music, food, religion, history, family structures, and methods of communication. Hopefully, I will come into contact with people from most of the ethnicities and frames of mind that exist, absorbing all that they have to show me about the meaning of life. Through active involvement in customs that are increasingly eccentric in comparison to my own, I will accumulate courage in myself to experience even the most remote and isolated civilizations. I suspect that doing so will make me feel balanced and accomplished, as I will eventually reach a level of omniscience that is to the best of my own ability. It is only in this way that I will discover what I would like to pursue as a professional aspiration, as currently I feel that my knowledge is too little to allow me to make a conscious choice about my career.
In order to expel ignorance in others, I will not force them, but invite them to seek cultural enlightenment alongside me. My goal is not to insist that others accept and live by my same ideals. My goal is purely to make others alert to the fact that other lifestyles and means of learning do exist outside what they are used to. I can encourage others to recognize new and various manners of living through discussions in which I inform them of my own cultural investigations, and express regard for their viewpoints. Verbally, I can communicate all of the interesting cultural differences I have encountered to any person I may come across. An additional method of sharing my empiricism with others is to provoke them to accompany me in my travels. Up to present I have already committed with some of my closest friends to taking mentally stimulating trips with me in the near future. As I have endeavored to become an open-minded person, I advertise the attentive understanding of diversity to any of my acquaintances.
My search for diversity does not entail that I will someday find a lifestyle or a piece of knowledge that is ultimately important or ultimately correct. Once again, I support a position of relativism: the good for one person may be completely different for another. Therefore, included in my life’s purpose is the actualization of a non-judgmental attitude towards all ways of thinking. During my life I hope to ascertain countless ways of living, some that I will sincerely agree with and others that may not appeal to me. I do not demand that anyone or I live in a manner that is unsatisfactory or restrictive. I do demand that all people maintain a respect for the fact that different cultures do exist.
In reaffirming my life’s purpose, what has made me most confident is my certainty, gained through literate and conversational education that others also identify with my convictions. While I often confront people whom I conclude are immersed in a life of ignorance, I meet many who share my exact prioritization of travel and cultural awareness. Not only is my sense of purpose fostered by those close to me, but also by those that have come before. In his essay “Is Man a Machine?” the great philosopher Will Durant wrote a passage which epitomizes my personal approach to life: “Knowledge is the memory of the results of various modes of action; the more our knowledge, the greater our foresight can be; the greater our foresight the wider is our freedom.” Here, “various modes of action” are analogous to different cultural entities. Thus, through observing culture, knowledge will flourish, and lead to freedom. To achieve largeness of mind based on a wide perspective is to achieve a life of equanimity. Once I find equanimity, I will be free.