Thursday, October 30, 2008


Diversity is about variation. Being different is worthwhile. Differences enrich us. Differences make things work better. Diversity is a gift, a richness that strengthens our world and makes our lives fuller. We can learn much from people unlike us. We need the contrasts in our lives. We need cultural differences and religious differences and philosophical differences. A better world incorporates and sustains the differences between us.

Of course diversity, like all the other terms that I've used, can mean several different things. In particular, there's human diversity, which is mostly what I was referring to above, and biodiversity, the enormous variety of life and the need for that variety, since the more variation in an ecosystem, the more resilient the system becomes. And, of course, it's the same principle in both cases. The more variety we have, the better off we are. Sameness, homogeniety, is not just boring, it's stulifying, rigidifying, and dangerous.

There are people scared of diversity--and sometimes with good reason. I do realize that not all differences are good. I don't want to live in community with bigots and elitists and reactionaries, no matter how diverse that makes the group. But I also don't want to live with people just like me. I need diversity in order to learn and grow. As Audre Lorde points out, we need to embrace differences, not fear them.

Quote of the day: "If we are to achieve a richer culture, rich in contrasting values, we must recognize the whole gamut of human potentialities, and so weave a less arbitrary social fabric, one in which each diverse gift will find a fitting place." - Margaret Mead
Word (or phrase) of the day: Riparian Rights
Hero(es) of the day: James Baldwin

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