Posts Tagged ‘American values’

THE UNITY VERSUS DIVERSITY CONUNDRUM

November 11, 2020

At the onset of this nation’s founding, more than lip service was payed to the concepts of liberty and e pluribus unum, or “from many, one.” Implicit in the latter was diversity as an input and unity as an output. While we haven’t always lived up to this ideal in practice, it’s still a foundational value worth striving for. It’s important to note that the concept of diversity can be applied to the physical and to the arena of ideas. It can be used for good or for evil purposes, a positive relationship manifesting as tolerance and inclusion and its evil counterpart as prejudice and exclusion. So how does this relate to our present condition?

To be a country, we tacitly and voluntarily agree to live under a single umbrella. This umbrella superficially consists of laws, but more substantially a set of values. Under this umbrella are an unlimited number of smaller umbrellas and, depending on how the “groups” are defined and how granular an analysis you want, an infinite number of yet smaller ones exist beneath, culminating in the individual. At every level, like snowflakes, no two umbrellas are alike. When a group decides to place the value of diversity above unity, it reverses the motto to e unum pluribus, and the nation cannot stand. Such a group cites as its rationale examples of intolerance, even reaching as far back into history as necessary, to bolster the importance of diversity over assimilation. Unfortunately, this principle of “tolerance” has been applied to physical characteristics such as skin color and sexual preferences as opposed to diversity of thought.

There is no question that diversity of thought is a prerequisite for innovation and optimal problem-solving (thinking “outside the box”). Like any positive characteristic, in excess it can cause dissension, resentment, and group dissolution by consent or worse, violence. Diversity of physical characteristics and sexual preference add nothing unless, by their presence, imbue the bearer with a diversity of thought that adds to the discussion. It should be neither selected for nor campaigned against. So differences in people are a necessary prerequisite for moving toward a better state of being as long as they can work together to move forward.

At the level of the biggest umbrella, there is room for disagreement in processes and policies; in fact, it’s a prerequisite to navigate the narrow path between chaos and order. At this level, of the nation, there is little room for differences in fundamental values, the glue that cements the union. The alternative leads to balkanization. This country was founded on the principle of God-given rights and individual liberty, with the government’s existence predicated upon serving these values. Paramount among these rights is freedom of speech. The current election results suggest a minimum of half the country supports these values. Of the other half, I suspect at least 20% do as well. I believe two simple questions can determine the portion of the country that would be more comfortable under a different umbrella, i.e, those that truly desire “fundamental change”:

  • Do you believe hate speech is protected speech?
  • Do you favor equality of opportunity over equity?

A “no” answer would suggest a fundamental incompatibility with the Founders’ intent, and I and many others I know would resist attempts to change this with our last breath.

E pluribus unum.