What is “diversity”?

What is diversity? A good question – and not one that I appreciated needed to be qualified. So perhaps I can qualify it, both with examples of what IS diversity, and what is NOT diversity – you’re more than welcome to disagree with what YOU think diversity is, but this, at least, is what *I* am talking about, when I use the word.

While this might come across as a lecture (i.e. there are no questions in it…) I hope you can gather that it’s really just a description of a word I used, that I think has been taken to mean something that I DON’ T mean it to be. Read it as a clarification, not a lecture!

Diversity defined!
From a few different sites we have:
“the state or fact of being diverse (of a different kind, form, character, etc);  difference; unlikeness” (dictionary .com, thefreedictionary and dictionary reference)

“The condition of having or being composed of differing elements : the inclusion of different types of people (as people of different races or cultures) in a group or organization” (webster)

So I think these sum it up for ME (again, you can disagree, I’m posting this to clarify what I mean when I use the word) – but I think I’d go further.

Some everyday examples of diversity:
A menu, is diverse. That is the point of a menu. It provides a number of different options so that the customers can either choose something different between them, or even choose a different meal for subsequent visits.

Elsewhere on this site, I presented a list that demonstrated exactly how diverse even Christianity is – there are hundreds of different religions that use the same core beliefs, and the same core book as key to their faith. Are ALL of these wrong? not at all! – there is excellent communication between most sects, and in many cases the inter-relationships serve to build and improve for everyone. Another point I made was the number of different bible versions – the bible “evolves” according to the language (and a few other parameters too) – but does that mean that “earlier” versions are wrong? are they evil? not at all!. DIVERSITY here allows the bible to reach more people, and be read by more people – not evil, by any stretch.

Is diversity “evil”?
Diversity is not intrinsically “evil” – it is a noun. It is no more evil than “color”. Some colors are unappealing to some, but that doesn’t mean that “colors” are evil, or even deserving of condemnation. Likewise, some people may not like, or agree with some of the choices made from a menu, but that doesn’t mean the menu itself is evil, nor does it mean that the fact OPTIONS exist is “evil”.

Some possible CHOICES are evil – yes, agreed, but some possible CHOICES are also NOT evil.

Ergo, diversity in itself, is not “evil”. Is not the menu that is evil, even if fugu is on the menu.
So why will people maintain diversity is “evil”?
I don’t know. But I can understand why people maintian diversity is “bad”. Usually this is because diversity, by its nature, introduces unpredictable or unknown perturbations from what they regard as a status quo.
This means that if you don’t like things being different, unpredictable or unknowable, then you might object to it. Other people see this kind of unpredictability as an interesting, and rather inevitable challenge.

Yes, diversity means that people will have an opinion different to yours – it even means that some of those opinions could be regarded as unethical or violent. This is a two-way street – YOU may regard some opinions as unethical and ipso-facto, YOUR opinions may be regarded as unethical. This doesn’t necessarily mean that either, or both, or one of the opinions IS actually “evil” , but of course, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are “not evil” either – my point is, the act of having different opinions is not evil in itself – the opinion might be, but since it’s possible to have two different opinions, neither of which are “evil”, then it stands to reason that different opinions is not “evil” necessarily.

There are certainly times when it’s important to enforce conformity – the military needs to operate as a disciplined, coherent, self-contained tool. One that doesn’t suddenly fragment and wander off into the forest… HOWEVER – even in the military diversity is applauded in some cases- strategies are not decided by the decree of an individual, but by discussion and collaboration. Diversity of mind, experience and intelligence is intrinsic even to the success of a military body.
YOU (yes you, dear reader!) appreciate diversity:
When approaching a physical challenge – does it make sense to apply only one method, and prepare for no others? not at all. If your first approach fails, inevitably, you modify the approach and try another – you DIVERSIFY. Diversity in thought and approach, therefore, is a crucial tool for humanity, without it, we simply would not be, or have, what we do/are.
When attempting to learn the best course of action in an unfamiliar situation, do we ponder only our own experience? Of course not, we seek opinions and inputs of others – we DIVERSIFY. By obtaining thoughts and experience of others, we broaden our knowledge base and thereby more intelligently and reliably converge on the most useful path.
Diversity in the workplace:
Diversity manifests even in your workplace – almost without exception. In this case, the vast majority of tasks are accomplished more effectively, and more efficiently with a “divide and conquer” approach – i.e. more to the point, more brains introduce more tools to discuss and converge on the “best” approach.
Diversity in nature
Of course, this is my favorite example, but I won’t labor the point – suffice to say that diversity is one of the lynchpins in the documented and proven process of evolution. I understand that many readers won’t be too familiar with this, so I won’t elaborate (or you can message me…)

So – We live our lives making extensive use of diversity. It’s critical in nearly every step of the way. We use it in the work place, we use it at the restaurant, and it’s even fundamental to our basic biology.
There is nothing “evil” about two people having a different opinion.
There is nothing “evil” about someone saying something that you don’t agree with.

However, there is everything “evil” about censoring someone, simply because they said something you don’t agree with. This is how despotism functions. Censorship IS oppression AND manipulation – by foreclosing on valid, logical and diverse opinions, you are necessarily contriving and shaping the way people see the world. Censorship does not actually work – telling people to shut up does not invalidate their point, nor does it erase their logic. It simply limits and truncates the availability of information and imposes severe restrictions on freedoms. This is such an important point that it’s regarded almost as the most crucial quality of many 1st world nations, and is enforced by law.

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