In high school physics class I learned that light comes in a spectrum based on wavelength. Red has a longer wavelength than violet. Red is like soft, gentle swells while violet waves are the choppy ones. On a sunny day these visible electromagnetic waves come through the cut glass in my front door and spread the familiar colours red, orange, yellow, green, blue and violet in that order, over my entrance wall.
Spectrums can be found or made in our imagination. I find thinking of spectrums useful when I’m searching to understand the range of possibilities in my world. It’s fun to play the game: ’Where are You on the Spectrum?’ For example, with Point of View: Are you more a tree or a forest person? Socially: Are you Introvert or Extrovert? Risk: Averse or Bold? Energy: Mellow or High Strung? Most personality tests are based on determining the answers to questions like these, then sorted to find your ‘type’.
I suspect fewer people are at the edges of any spectrum you can dream up in this game of finding out. Most of us will have personal qualities or preferences that put us somewhere to the left or right of the mid point. That doesn’t necessarily make us dull, just balanced. But strangely, most of us get nervous when it comes to diversity within the spectrum of humanity. We like to have things all the same and we often attempt to keep the outliers in boxes of our creation.
I belong to some online survey groups. The opening questions are intended to sort me into categories. I find myself unable to answer some of these questions because, like most people, I don’t easily fit into a binary world. In the modern marketplace, companies would love to find out who we are on a spectrum. If corporations can determine your likes and dislikes then they can create an algorithm that can match you to one of their products. To me this is another example of profiling. Police departments have been accused of racial profiling as a way to narrow their arrest protocols and Big Business regularly tries to get a handle on their customers, so that they can get easier access to their wallets.
Recent Gay Pride events highlighted the spectral nature of sexuality. The rainbow is a fitting symbol as it suggests that humans, collectively and individually are varietal. On the sex spectrum I feel more masculine than feminine and I appreciate members of the gay community stepping up and out to remind me that we are all a blend of hormones and attitudes. We all need to feel free to express ourselves in ways trivial or universal. I like yelling at ball games as much as I do crying while watching musicals. I try to vote responsibly and I have marched in solidarity for causes that acknowledge diversity. I am grateful that I live in a society that recognizes the value of inclusion.
Many colours make up the light that streams through my window. That light animates all life.