|image by tadness|
The University of North Carolina's Gillings School of Public Health pperformed an open survey in 2010, asking students how they would define diversity. Most answers centered around two ideas: the primary one was that diversity entails gathering together individuals from all kinds of different backgrounds, different socio-economic strata, different political opinions, different religious beliefs, and even different moral beliefs. A second idea that surfaced was that these differences are all equally valid. As one answer put it "Diversity of experiences, viewpoints, backgrounds, and life experiences. Tolerance of thought, ideas, people with differing viewpoints, backgrounds, and life experiences." But is this really true? Should we seek all kinds of differing viewpoints for the sake of having difference? Should we tolerate just anything?
Now, I understand that there is great benefit to learning about and understanding other cultures. The Chinese gave us gunpowder, the Persians advanced algebra. Certain cultures excel at different aspects of life and culture A may be stuck trying to find the answer to some problem that culture B has solved long ago. Humans are like that; we think linearly for the most part. However, I have become a bit worried because with all the talk of diversity, we never speak of the other side of the coin. There is a very significant drawback to diversity for the sake of diversity—and that is the danger of becoming less human.
Let me explain. If diversity means sinply accepting everyone for who they are, regardless of their beliefs or cultural differences, then there would be no cultural practice one could call wrong or bad. Cultural practices are simply different. But in the real world there truly are some things that are bad and should be discouraged. For example, in many African nations the practice of female genital mutilation is a longstanding cultural tradition. This practice is barbaric, though. We should not accept it for the sake of wanting a different point of view. We know that such a viewpoint is simply unjustifiable.
The only way cultures advance is to improve themselves. This may mean looking to other cultures and learning from them, but it may also mean teaching other cultures a better way to do things. If we are simply accepting all cultures, all points of view, then how do we as a human race advance? Christianity has been the leader in helping other cultures across the globe with issues like farming, providing clean water and medicine, providing education, and other advances that western nations take for granted. In so doing, they are not spreading diversity, but unity; they recognize all human beings as worthy of dignity and the best that all our advances have brought to life. I fear that today as more and more people call for diversity across every aspect of life, that they don't realize it will only make a positive impact if it is first run through the filter of moral clarity. That's the only way we can serve humanity well.