Our Diversity is our Strength
It has been more than a year since the world retreated to home to fight an unseen enemy. Despite joining together to fight this common enemy, other “enemies” have drawn stark lines between us. I use the word enemy to define thoughts and ideas. Not people. But people act on thoughts and ideas. Contradicting thoughts and ideas have created divides between people.
To be clear, thoughts and ideas on racism, gender rights, and immigration have been topics of controversy. Let’s face it last year was turbulent. For some, we may have contemplated this turbulence and done serious soul-searching to understand our beliefs. Some of us (myself included) may have found a platforms to speak out or to encourage people to consider circumstances in a broader way. This blog is partly that and partly explaining one point where Jamie Poole was conceived. The two seem to be one these days. (I’ll save how Tolkien influenced Jamie for another day.)
The concept of Jamie Poole was conceived almost two decades ago, but it was only recently that she has graced some of your book shelves! (grin) Early in the series the theme emerges: “Our diversity is our strength.” It is introduced in the book Resurrection of the Druidess when Eliyana explains to Jamie the fate that has befallen her people, and why she has traveled forward in Time.
The world of Eliyana the Druidess is a simplified version of our own. Her home is a (fictional) chain of islands, a subarctic archipelago of Scotland located near the Shetland and the Orkney Islands. Based on history, this chain of islands, had it been real, would have been populated by peoples from Nordic countries and Scotland. Additionally, people of Scottish decent were known to have traveled in early times to Egypt. As a consequence, this became part of the story. Eliyana's grandfather, the clan chief, took a bride from Egypt. Eliyana’s ancestry is Egyptian and Celt.
Many characters, including Eliyana, have names that one cannot immediately recognize as originating in a specific country or language. This is intentional. I’ve had a few fans ask this question. Of Za’id, Eliyana’s friend, it is questioned, “How can a Druid have that name? Sounds Egyptian.” Za’id is both Egyptian and Druid. That’s diversity. A person doesn’t have to be defined by one thing or another. Or anything. Labels aren't intended to define a person. David Rose (played by Dan Levy) explains in the comedy Schitt’s Creek about his pansexuality: “I like the wine and not the label.” If we get stuck on the label, we might miss the delicious wine inside. That would be unfortunate.
There is another character named Clydus: again, a name that is ambiguous as to its origin. This was a deliberate choice in naming this character. Clydus presents himself as an enemy to Eliyana and to her people. He wishes to erase the people’s Norse and Celtic heritage, preferring to enforce an pseudo-Egyptian religion. Until this moment, Eliyana’s people have been free to express themselves however they choose and have existed peacefully for uncounted time. They have enjoyed their diversity because they know nothing else. It is only when Clydus draws attention to people’s differences in appearance and faith practices that a divide forms. Only when labels are used in biased ways do people begin imagining differences.
There’s an irony regarding Clydus. He is a Druid despite his obsession for things Egyptian. He names the Isle of Osiris as he begins to erase the “old ways.” He is described as being tall with greasy hair, a long greasy beard, and scars about his face from an unnamed childhood disease. He carries a bag of magic at his waist, and his robe is black. He has two companions, ravens which alight upon his shoulders. What deity possesses two ravens? Odin of course and his two ravens Muninn and Huginn. Odin is Norse. Clydus attempts to erase even that which represents himself.
The irony escapes him. Here’s the thing: Clydus is blind to his own personal diversity. He holds no scruples when it comes to erasing the old ways and extinguishing his people’s diversity. He will kill anyone who attempts to get in his way.
It is unfortunate for Clydus who misses the fact that diversity truly is our strength, both in the book series and in reality. I cannot begin to list all the wars and tribulations fought because people could not accept another group as equal. And this did not begin last year. Or the year before. When it comes down to it, the truth is: we are all one people. We are all human. We all share so much regardless of race, color, language, sexual orientation, or creed. It matters not the color of our skin, or the clothes we wear, the country in which we reside, or the place we choose to worship or not worship. Our diversity is our strength. It would be a very boring and lonely place if each of us were identical to each other. In looking past the label—becoming blind to it—we have a chance to learn so much from each other.
There will always be people like Clydus. But there will also always be people like Eliyana. I would encourage you to sample some wine without consulting the label. You might discover a new favorite.