The fifth of May has arrived, which means that it is my first Cinco de Mayo in Boston. Here in the United States it’s a time to celebrate Mexican heritage, among other things. While most of us will be inside studying for our last week of exams instead of drinking margaritas, today is still an important day. It is a day that reminds us all how important Latino culture is to our nation’s identity, as well as the value of diversity.
When it comes to being diverse, Boston does a pretty good job. The city is made up of such a wonderful mix of people. You’ll find individuals of different ethnicities, faiths, and social statuses living side by side here. We all may come from different backgrounds, but our foregrounds are very similar; we are living, studying, and working together in the city of Boston.
Diversity has always been important to me. I guess it’s because I love to learn about and understand the world around me as much as I can. However, it wasn’t until I started law school that I realize just how valuable it is.
Part of “thinking like a lawyer” involves learning how to not only develop an argument favoring your position, but how to be able to argue from the opposing side as well. By anticipating potential counter-arguments your own legal analysis is sharpened. Sometimes this requires us to put ourselves in the shoes of another person, trying to imagine how we would see things from their perspective. That can be easy enough, but it can be somewhat difficult when that person comes from another culture.
It’s a strange phenomenon. The world inside our heads is so much different from the world inside the head of someone else, and both of those worlds are different from the world outside. Our voices sound one way to us and one way to everyone else. We often feel that our language is natural and easy to understand, and that every word in another language should have a direct translation to our own.
Strange, but certainly understandable. It can be hard to imagine something when we lack a connection to it. That is why diversity is so critical to the legal profession. If we want to be good lawyers, we need to not only be able to put ourselves in the shoes of those we may be more familiar with, but also those with a cultural background that is different from ours.
When we can do that, we become more inclusive and reasonable at the same time. Our arguments gain a much more solid foundation grounded in an understanding and respect of others and their cultures. The greatest benefit of diversity is that it allows us to come even closer to the ideal of equality embodied in the Constitution and our laws. I’d say that’s a pretty big reason to celebrate.