The process of differentiating is not merely about polarity. While it is rightly characterized as distinguishing between two or more people or things, it is as importantly a process of becoming different by growth. In its strictly scientific sphere for example it is "the process by which cells, tissue and organs acquire specialized features during development". It is this latter interpretation which captures my curiosity in particular.
I might begin by remarking upon what I find to be an amusing curiosity; namely, that a reputed antonym of differentiation is association. This to me is mildly comical because to my uninitiated thinking it is the very identification of difference which in many instances propels fraternity (at least within the realm of human conduct - though I suspect the same may be advanced regarding Darwinian necessity). I venture that it is the contrast which often motivates the alliance, sometimes along purely social lines of organizations, leagues or guilds; sometimes more narrowly among nefarious syndicates, confederacies and mergers. I prefer to imagine that I confine my personal legend of differentiation and association to the more spiritual and intellectual circles. I say this because I otherwise normally encounter difficulty establishing either the divergence or amalgamation of people and things. The biology of people does not usually translate readily to palpable disparity or cartel. Or, to put it another way, the real differences and commonalities between people are not readily apparent. This is especially so when the appearance of people is contaminated by materiality fraught with innuendo - matters like fashion, motor vehicles, housing, tattoos and jewellery. Even education can be frightfully misleading especially when applied to those professions from which we expect to derive gainful assurance - law, accounting, medicine and theology. In a dynamic democracy such as our own the occasion for deception is therefore rank. We have all learned to qualify the ethics of politicians accordingly.
My purpose is not however to highlight the signals of criminality or professional misconduct; rather to dwell upon the nutrition arising from differentiation. Foremost it is uncanny how conditioned we are to avoid that which is different. A hallmark example of that miscalculation is the Shakespearean model of Prince Hal and Falstaff. Lest that poetic reference be seen to promote only wasteful and bumbling hooliganism I hasten to note the more instructive alliances which have evolved from people of different backgrounds and experience. Even without the illustrious example of business or matrimonial unions there are plentiful anecdotal cases of meaningful relationships between people who are "different" from one another. More often than not those coalitions arise naturally among people of accidentally divergent ingredients. Indeed it is part of the fruitous substance of those communions that they are evoked by nature and not by design. If we were to rely upon mandate or premonition the federations would seldom occur. For that reason alone it is imperative to countenance a knowledge of oneself, a trust of instincts and a belief in the authenticity and legitimacy of passion and inclination. While this certainly may not be a creditable prescription for commercial enterprise or devious social ambition, it is almost universally otherwise healthful. Recall for example that the man who marries for money will earn every cent of it! And likewise, if she knows why she loves him, she doesn't!
It should be kept in mind that not every inclination should be relied upon. There is always room - even in matters of the heart - for reflection. A deeper analysis of our soul may at times reveal a level of comfort which is not to be found at first glance. Rather than pretend to itemize any one element of thought or prejudice, it is sufficient to observe that each of us is but a compass having a limited expanse of coverage notwithstanding its apparent 360° revolution. Openness and diversity are not to be equated with the enlargement of our views of the world. There is always a limit which is as much a feature of our birth as our maturation. Whatever the parameters though it is clear that the recognition of our capability is as important as an admission of our capacity. Knowing that can make for some very productive acquaintances! Vive la différence!