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  • Norman Young

I Am Thankful For Diversity

It is an unfortunate fact that, among conservative Republicans, "diversity" has become a dirty word. I don't blame Republicans for this. The Democratic Party and Leftist academics have utterly abused the term "diversity" (as well as "feminism," "civil rights," etc.), which has put a bad taste in Republicans' mouths. But "diversity" doesn't deserve scorn; it deserves praise—measured, temperate praise. It was by praising "diversity" more highly than it deserved—calling it a "virtue" and a "strength"—that the Left tarred the reputation of something that is rightly considered beautiful.

"Diversity" is not a virtue. When Americans think of "diversity" as a virtue, they tend to imagine people of different races and religions working together in harmony. The mental picture of diverse peoples working together harmoniously contains virtue, to be sure—but it is the virtue of "unity," not "diversity." People are still "diverse" before they decide to work together. In fact, they would still be "diverse" even if they were fighting with one another in tribal warfare. Harmony enters the picture only when the diverse people are brought together in "unity." "Unity" is the virtue.

"Diversity" is not a strength, either. When Americans think of "diversity" as a strength, they usually argue that a culture with a variety of ideas and perspectives is stronger than one which upholds one rigid orthodoxy. This argument is not wholly wrong, but it misses a crucial point--cultural strength comes from the ability to "assimilate" new ideas, not from the mere presence of a "diversity" of opinions and interests. In fact, a society which has an irreconcilable diversity of opinions and interests is, as President Lincoln would argue, "divided against itself." Diversity alone cannot stand; it is a major weakness. The willingness to assimilate new ideas, however, is a strength.

So, if "diversity" is not a "virtue", nor a "strength," then what is it? Let us hear from Socrates, as he describes the most diverse political arrangement:

"... is not the city chock-full of liberty and freedom of speech? ... and has not every man license to do as he likes? ... And where there is such license, it is obvious that everyone would arrange a plan for leading his own life in the way that pleases him. All sorts and conditions of men, then, would arise in this polity more than in any other ... Possibly, this is the most beautiful of polities as a garment of many colors, embroidered with all kinds of hues, so this, decked and diversified with every type of character, would appear the most beautiful"

For Socrates, diversity is beautiful. Notice that he does not argue that diversity makes a political system virtuous, nor does he argue that it makes it strong. He enjoys the diversity of democracy because it is beautiful, and because it allows anyone and everyone who seeks after the truth an equal opportunity to find it.

Christians should agree with Socrates. "Diversity" is, after all, part of God's redemptive plan through Jesus Christ. The messianic promise is that all of the diverse peoples of the world will be brought together in a future Kingdom under the rulership of Jesus himself. The unifying power of Christ will prove strong enough to overcome the greatest human differences, and the diversity in the Kingdom of God will be eternal evidence of that fact. And, just like a many-colored tapestry, our human differences intricately woven together will indeed be beautiful.

This Thanksgiving, I thank God for His plan of redemption. I thank Him for the beauty of diversity.