Diversity: Missing the point
It’s amazing how someone can read a column and see something entirely different than what is written. A recent response to my column on diversity and inclusion is a classic example of missing the point.
The purpose of the column was not to deny the reality of a diverse community or to imply that a diverse community is a bad thing. I don’t think that, nor said that. The reason for the column was to show that diversity and inclusion are not important.
The alleged goal of diversity and inclusion is to create civic unity. This is what Martin Luther King sought in a colorblind society. Unity comes from having something in common; something that makes us the same; something that makes us truly human and even American.
Sure, Fayette County is diverse in race, sex, religion, etc. Yet, focusing on our differences does nothing to unite us. Unity through diversity is like claiming we can gain sight through blindness or love through hatred. It’s like saying you can put something together by blowing it apart.
Diversity can’t do what it claims, and that is why it is not important. Not evil, just unimportant.
Inclusion is supposed to bring us together, but that is not true either. That is because the ideal of inclusion assumes that every diverse voice is equal. This faulty assumption reveals why inclusion cannot achieve what it claims, and so it, too, is unimportant.
As my previous column demonstrated, not every voice is equal. There are some diverse voices that we do not and cannot include in the cultural conversation. We include those voices at our peril.
There are racist voices, religiously imperialist voices, pedophile voices, and many others that are evil. But we have a hard time saying that these voices are evil and should be excluded. This is because we think that every person decides for themselves what is good. Something can be good for one person, but bad for another, and who are we to say what is good or evil. Consequently, we do the lazy thing and say every voice is good.
If my respondent thinks that we should include all voices, including sexist, imperialist, immoral, and racist voices, he is free to stake out that ground. It seems he already has, and I doubt he will have many join him.
Everyone knows that we do not and cannot include every voice, so inclusion fails as a way to bring us together. We all exclude some voices. The criterion we typically use for exclusion is because the voice is evil. The only way we can say that something is always evil is if God decides what is good.
If humans set the standard for what is good, then chaos, division, and strife are sure to follow. We could never agree on what is good, because we would have billions of standards. Unity is impossible this way.
So what can bring us together as a community if diversity and inclusion are inadequate?
In short, God.
When we acquire his character, we may treat each other equally and respect every member of the community. MLK rightly quoted from the Declaration of Independence, because he knew that only through God would we recognize as “self-evident” that “all men are created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights.”
We already are equal. God himself is who makes us equal – makes us the same – not a man-made ideal like diversity. Godly character is what can bring us together and live out the equality with which God already made us. If someone treats another unequally, it is because the person lacks good character.
While I am not a “person of color,” I have many friends who are. I have learned from them about black America in the last century. I understand the injustice, the pain, and the struggle for freedom and equality.
My respondent is old enough to remember those days, though most of us only know of it from history. Sadly, my respondent can’t help but see social issues through the eyes of race. He even began his response with “the answer depends on what side of the color line you are on.”
Respectfully, no, it doesn’t.
We need to get past race, sex, religion, and other such “diversity issues.” No one cares (or at least should care) what race you are. You can be black, brown, red, yellow, white, or phosphorescent orange for all I care. Religion, ethnicity, or sex is irrelevant.
If you have good character, work hard, and are qualified for the job, you should be able to do whatever you want. This is a free country.
Continuing to point out our differences or relive long-past wrongs won’t help us live together today.
With God’s grace and strength to do what is not always easy, let us work to promote godly character. Martin Luther King thought that was the solution.
That is when we will live out the equality we already have, when race is a non-issue, and there is no need for an NAACP.
[David Richardson of Peachtree City is the executive director of The Assumptions Project. He has a master’s degree from Oxford University, and is a university consultant in education and culture. He is a recognized expert on the religious attitudes and beliefs of university professors. He, his wife and children have lived in Fayette County for more than two decades.]