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Scheme of Things

Similar but Different
By Nan S. Russell
Oct 6, 2014 - 8:14:34 PM

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Goblins. Ghosts. Witches. Vampires. Superheroes. Princesses. Pirates ... and more. Purchased costumes or handmade in self-chosen or parental-guided attire, some shy and some outgoing, these school-aged entities have much in common - at least while seeking candy in atypical clothes one night of the year.

But beneath the face paint, colored hair, and masks, the likes and dislikes, resources, and creativity of these candy-loving creatures are vastly difference. And because they are, none of us would suggest that their costume choices be limited to one for girls and one for boys so only princesses and pirates knocked on candy-givers' doors going forward.

That's why in an era where you can have-it-your way from everything from T-shirt sayings to Instagram photo-transformations, and Build-a-Bear to create-a-burrito, it's interesting to find one-size-fits-all approaches in surprising places. One local one got me thinking.

With an expected crowd of 30,000 to watch the USAF Air Demonstration Squadron "Thunderbirds" perform in Northwestern Montana, a newspaper article explained there was "a new push to make all presale tickets online," and that "folks who needed help purchasing tickets online" could call the local Chamber.

While buying tickets or anything online is second nature to the majority of us, it's not for lots of people. The New York Times reported that over 60 million Americans, one in every five, can't afford internet service or lack online skills, including almost 50 percent of those over 65 and 30 percent under it.

My point isn't about ticket selling in the Flathead Valley, or the ongoing need to increase technology access and raise skills for everyone, but rather, our inability, at times, to "see" beyond what we know, like, or find easiest for us. We expect people to be like us, know what we know, be able to do what we can do, or have access to what we have. But, they don't.

I'm re-grounded when my husband and I go on driving vacations, as we did recently. It reminds me of how similar and how different we are. I'm still surprised how frequently there's no cell service in areas of this vast country; how limited the resources and options many of us take for granted are in some communities; and how challenging everyday basics can be.

In the scheme of things, the problem isn't about technology use or not, buying tickets online or in person, it's about orienting to a bigger world so we see beyond our little ones. Too often, we're living in our little world, thinking it is the world - whether that little world is an age group, gender, religion, race, profession, economic status, political affiliation, or community.

So this Halloween, I hope we pause to glimpse the ingenuity, creativity, and differences in the delightful creatures at our doors. And as we do, I hope we're reminded of the many different "worlds" they come from. 

(c) 2014 Nan S. Russell. All Rights Reserved.

Nan Russell is an award winning author. Her fourth book, Trust, Inc.: How to Create a Business Culture that Will Ignite Passion, Engagement, and Innovation was published in November 2013. More about Nan and her work can be found at Sign up to receive Nan's free monthly eColumn at:

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