“Difference are necessary to be different from a group or another person. Differences also help to discover different cultures and to share one’s own.”
“We all have to cultivate our difference and the difference to make society a sharing society”
“As for me, when I arrived in mainland France, I didn’t speak French well, just Creole, so I struggled to express myself at the bank to open an account. They told me that I had to go to school to learn French, and that motivated me to learn French on the job, on the street with people. For me, it’s getting to know these people, even if we’re different, and that gave me something more. This negative experience motivated me to learn.”
“We said to ourselves that we can all learn from the differences, like Paul who learnt a language and did it brilliantly. We learn a lot from each other, from cultures, from food, etc.”
“As we talked, we realised that although we were all different, we had things in common, such as our difference.”
The word difference (différence in French) comes from the Latin word “differentia”, which means “to disseminate” or “to disperse”. According to the Oxford dictionary, difference can be defined as “the way in which two people or things are not like each other; the way in which someone or something has changed”.
To establish a difference, there are an infinite number of criteria that can be established: weight, size, quantity, price, colour, manufacture etc… However, the meaning of the word “difference” here refers to the differences, proven or not, between human beings.
These observations of differences can result in a value judgment, and a hierarchy between the different categories differentiated. As the French biologist Albert Jacquard reminds us, “this debate is typical of a misinterpretation of words and symbols forged by mathematicians“. Indeed, if we apply the arithmetic definition of difference, that means there is a possibility of establishing a classification for everything. We see the drifts of this differentiation which results in the creation of value judgments: sexism, racism, homophobia, and all forms of oppression based on a “different” characteristic considered bad. The difference refers to the notion of otherness, the one who is not us. The expression can have a negative connotation because it can evoke a confrontation between two things. Moreover, in French, “avoir un différend” means to have a problem with someone. The question of difference is also the idea of standards: who defines what is different? Because the difference can also be considered as a form of strangeness.
Many people considered to be different because of their appearances or their lifestyles, for example, claim this difference to free themselves from the judgment of others. This is the case of the Body Positive movement, a social movement that wants to advocate acceptance and love of oneself and its “differences”.
References to go deeper:
Worlds of Difference, S. A. Arjomand, E. Pereira Reis
Eloge de la différence. La génétique et les hommes, A. Jacquard