Respect for and Celebration of Domestic and Global Diversity

Diversity is a big topic these days with the Supreme Court expected to issue a ruling in June on the question of college affirmative action programs.  Affirmative action has been most recently defended as a tool to increase diversity, but not as a tool to redress systemic racial injustices.  The two are certainly related but not the same and this Supreme Court is likely inclined to buy the argument that affirmative action has been used to give preference to less qualified Black applicants thus denying places to more qualified students of other colors.  It’s what happens when the problem of systemic racism is avoided.

Recent news reports also claim corporate diversity training has backfired by appearing to coerce, push and shove attendees into new behaviors dimly understood and resented. Could be I suppose.  I recall some church related anti racism training that did much the same.  Hastily designed programs driven by emotional commitments tend to render poor results. For what it’s worth, I think Eric Law has the  best approach and people should pay more attention to him.

It’s too bad because our nation is becoming a mixed race stewpot in which no skin color will be a majority nor can it dictate social norms..  Inter-race marriages contribute to mix things up even more. We desperately need to find ways to respect and celebrate our differences without prejudice.

Something similar is happening on the world stage.  For the first time, the Munich International Security Conference is listening to leadership from emerging nations.  Until now these kinds of conferences have been limited to major European and Asian powers on the rather imperious presumption that emerging countries were just pawns, albeit important ones, in a global game of chess.  Rightfully so, the same emerging countries seem unwilling to be pawns anymore.  

In like manner, Christian churches with a global reach have discovered they have more bishops from Africa and Asia than they do from Europe and North America.  The pope is from Brazil.  Anglican Bishop Tutu of South Africa was the moral voice of the Anglican Communion for many decades. I’m told that Lutherans and Methodists are experiencing a similar dynamic.  

My wife and I have been tourists in a number of emerging countries, and in my past career I met with unsophisticated trade delegations from others.  Both seemed to think the U.S. was a land of golden opportunity, capable of imposing anything on anybody, and Americans were people to be looked up to with a degree of curious awe and suspicion.  None of that has been true on our more recent travels.  The internet, world wide cable news, and mobile phones have punctured the illusion.  Speaking only for ourselves, we find we are still respected and welcomed as tourists, but on a more equal footing with demands that we learn and respect the local culture as an essential element of touring. 

I don’t know what the future holds.  The Putins, Trumps and Bolsanaros of the world make it hard to read the tea leaves. Our own collection of crazies running rampant in the halls of Congress and state governments add confusion to the problem.  My Magic Eight Ball just spins without stopping on anything. Nevertheless, deep in the furrows of the earth lie seeds to a new and better way of living together, domestically and globally.  Seeds that won’t solve all our differences. There will still be conflicts, some of them deadly.   We can’t avoid recognizing that humans tend toward narrow minded, stiff necked selfishness.  It’s not a requirement, just the way we have been raised.  Yet the possibility remains that  a more diversified global population of equitable opportunity in which people and nations respect and celebrate their differences can lead to de-escalation of violence at every level, more trusting cooperation across all kinds of borders, and a less dangerous, stressful life for all. 

2 thoughts on “Respect for and Celebration of Domestic and Global Diversity”

  1. As always, thank you for your thoughtful and great insight. I remember having to take “race relations” obligated training in the service. And, while necessary, the delivery was not in an open discussion setting. However, it had to be done and glad it was. The small positive step forward was worth any uncomfortableness or push back from those who were unable to even listen much less understand what they were hearing. Sometimes, we all have to be a little uncomfortable to achieve a new level of comfortableness.

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