On the chalkboard of the cosmos, there's a mathematical equation for even the most inchoate, abstract and powerful forces in existence. Just like gravity and cosmic radiation, discrimination too fits into a just as perplexing, albeit socially constructed, mathematical equation. The injustice of discrimination doesn't follow the clean lines and constants of the equations I am normally fascinated with. Instead, it is a nonlinear, dynamic, and highly complex model that feeds on the negative variables of prejudice, bias, and fear.
As a mathematician, I often find myself pondering the quantifiable aspects of discrimination. Countless studies have worked to measure its impact. Unequal pay, lesser opportunities, underweeded representation or absolute invisibility in media and public discourse, discriminatory attitudes, even hate crimes – all of these concrete numbers and percentages point towards an undeniable, tangible inequality. But that is just the surface.
Going deeper, beneath these empirical layers, discrimination is far more fractal. It branches out into societal perceptions, individual biases, and deep-seated prejudices that reflect the complicated and often messy, human psyche. Like the horrific, unknowable creatures that populate Lovecraft's cosmic horror stories, standing on the edge of the abyss, faced with the raw, uncanny form of discrimination, one can experience a profound chill, a revulsion tinged with fear. And it is precisely this sensation, this fear of the different, the unknown, that fuels discrimination.
On the surface, it might not seem this topic fits with my love for mathematics and physics, but consider this, the universe, as we understand it, is made up of a collection of particles, each a mirror image of billions of others, each entirely identical. That very predictability is what allows us to attempt to comprehend and quantify the cosmos. Yet, in our diversity as humans, each one of us unique, we evidence one of nature's most beautiful and chaotic quantum principles. Is it not ironic then, that we judge, discriminate and devalue based on our differences?
Embrace diversity, accept the inherent uncertainty, it can be discomforting, yes, but exciting. Just as we enjoy tight solaces between bowling pin’s formations or venture into the unpredictable realm of cosmic horror, we should strive to seek beauty in diversity, in the unknown, daring to stare into the abyss of uncertainty, learning to substitute fear with understanding and acceptance.
Now, I have to pause and suppress a sigh as my TMJ disorder flares up, reminding me, as it always does, that pain is part of our mortal existence. So too is the affliction of discrimination, a pain whose roots run deep into the dark soil of our history. But, bear in mind, pain ultimately serves a purpose. It teaches us resilience, shades our understanding of the world and yes… it shapes our compassion.
With each strike of my cat Emmett Brown's paw on the keyboard, he adds a randomness that alters the course of my work. Just like our surreptitious keystrokes on the keyboard of life alter the lives of those around us. Discrimination can be the result of such casual keystrokes, but crucially, so can inclusivity, acceptance, and equality.
Finally, I can't help but mention my parrot, Parrot, squawking its own name, oblivious to the discriminative concepts of identity. This to me highlights an ideal to strive for – a world where identity is not used to differentiate and divide, but celebrated for its contribution to the colorful tapestry of humanity. In the grand equation of the cosmos, discrimination is an unbalancing variable, an unequational state, and one that with awareness, empathy and action, we can ultimately resolve.