Friday, November 16, 2007

Strength Through Diversity

I have recently realize, that while this very important philosophy has come up in more than one place on my blog, that I don't actually have a post dedicated solely to it. Since this is so important to me, I think that fact needs to be rectified. However, as simple as this concept appears to be, it's a rather complex web of interacting, interwoven concepts.

What is meant by strength?

I went first to the dictionary to see if it held any helpful hints for me. A few definitions popped out at me.

2. mental power, force, or vigor.
3. moral power, firmness, or courage.
4. power by reason of influence, authority, resources, numbers, etc.
6. effective force, potency, or cogency, as of inducements or arguments
7. power of resisting force, strain, wear, etc.

I think all of these apply more or less to what I'm talking about. A movement, a philosophy, a society, gains strength in all these ways, through diversity.

So what is meant by diversity?

Differences. Of perspective, of experience, of opinion. In my post grappling with my own white privilege I say:
I think every person, by virtue of their families; politics, money, race, ethnicity, religion, education, social standing, geography and life experience (for a brief list) has a perspective absolutely unique to that person. Thus every single voice in the chorus has something to add. Each perspective brings something different to the party.

I go on to note:
Connected to this though, is the fact that people will thusly speak out about what matters to THEM, which will leave issues that aren't at the forefront of their minds to others to cover. This can be, and is by some, considered a weakness of the feminist movement (and paganism, actually)[...]Yet, I don't think this phenomenon is a weakness. Truthfully, I think this is the best way we can go about making a true feminist movement.

But whatsername, won't that encourage divisiveness and arguments!? Yah, it can. The "problem" with diversity is that people in general seem to have this need (I absolutely believe encouraged by our patriarchal society) to be Right. We want the Truth. But the Truth is, there is no fucking Truth. And, if there is, we can't fathom it. We see our lives through our own lens. No two people will ever see it the same, even if their backgrounds are identical. Yet people more or less strive for uniformity. The idea of strength through diversity flies directly in the face of these common and encouraged perspectives. It even flies in the face of the "us vs. them" mentalities most of us buy into. Even me. How do we reconcile the Rush Limbaughs' of the world with the Mike Malloy's (whom, btw, I love)? Only by swallowing the jagged pill of knowing each is coming from their own truth, and trying our best to listen before we react. Only by realizing that it is through the polarity of two such opposites that new thoughts emerge.

And if we can come at being part of society, or at least part of a movement, with this perspective of strength through our differences and not just our samenesses I believe we will be stronger for it. I think it's the only real way to come to mutual understanding with, to grok, the people around us. Only when we respect each other enough for the communist to see where the libertarian is coming from even though they still disagree can we find a middle ground everyone can live well within. And shouldn't that be our ultimate goal as social beings?

1 comment:

whatsername reserves the right to delete your comment if you choose to act like an asshole, so please engage respectfully