Our Differences Make Us The Same

Once upon a time…

In a galaxy not so far away, our galaxy, our planet, there are seeds for change.  

This obvious riff on two pop culture tropes leads us into the arena of storytelling – that is the foundation of all that we consume – from film to tv shows, from books to music, and from news to the advertisements that seem to infest most content.   

What I’m not going to do is explain storytelling to you – that would be an entirely different story!

This is a story of how my family and I got to see “A Conversation with SCOTUS Justice Sonia Sotomayor” at Walnut Hills High School.  Sonia Sotomayor is an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.  She is only the third woman and the first Hispanic and Latina Justice out of 114 people who have served during the Supreme Court’s 230-year lifespan.  

Justice Sotomayor is not shy about her life story and has written several books, for both adults and children, that share her history, her influences and her love of Law.  At the age of 7, she was diagnosed with diabetes and because of being in a single-parent household due to the untimely death of her father, she began giving herself life-saving insulin injections at that same age.  This condition created a distance between her and her classmates – bridging this divide became the central theme of Sotomayor’s new book “Just ask! Be Different, Be Brave, Be You!”

Sotomayor’s storytelling, takes two different approaches: one for children and one as a learning tool for adults.  Both teach us all a better way of interacting with people that appear different from ourselves.  Her analogy of people being like different flowers in a garden helps establish this landscape before delving into the stories of 10 or so children and their unique qualities – which, as we all grow and blossom, know are not that unusual.

The importance of this book (and its thoughtfulness), quickly became very personal, as I reflected upon the challenges my own friends and family face – from Autism to Speech Impediments.

At Upstream, we’ve had the opportunity to help tell the stories of others that if you bumped into them on the street or sat next to them on a park bench – you may have found yourself staring – whether you meant to or not.  From children with Ocular implants to those with nearly full paralysis – each story helps prove the old axiom that you can’t always judge a book by its cover, or as Justice Sonia Sotomayor remarked when, as a teenager, someone saw her injecting herself in a public restroom “Don’t think the worst in people.” 

This is a children’s book that is set out to challenge the misconceptions of adults.  

So everyone, and yes that means all of us– Just ask! Be Different, Be Brave, Be You!