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Universally diverse

September 8th, 2011

Some of the foundational beliefs of our Jesuit institution are service and acceptance of diversity. These are indeed virtuous values but could their coexistence be counterproductive?

I’m sure you’re probably thinking, “Who is this clown? Does he hate people, encourage suffering, and promote discrimination?”

In short, sometimes, sometimes, hardly ever.

The problem with the diversity we accept that it isn’t that diverse. We have a narrow definition of acceptable diversity and it is usually based on superficial characteristics, like race, no matter how often superficiality is lambasted.

Before agriculture was everywhere, the human population was much smaller. More food equals more people. When smaller communities didn’t control their food supply, they had to live somewhat restricted lives, but not necessarily worse ones.

Agriculture became a destructive force throughout the world as it was thought by some to be the universally beneficial way to live. Traditions and ways of life that lasted for millennia were obliterated. The proven practices of peoples were erased and replaced. The “universal solution” doesn’t work everywhere, though. This resulted in thousands of years of strife and suffering trying to alleviate and fix problems by following the practices of the system that caused the problems in the first place.

There is no universal strategy for living. Far too often we are coerced into adopting a different technique for doing something. As much as the acceptance of diversity is taught in schools, the diversity of interest and learning capabilities are rarely accommodated for. When we are children, we are fed fairy tales, stories of heroes and optimism, encouraging creativity and an ambitious approach to life. Yet, as our education and responsibilities increase, we are corralled into adopting a practical plan for living within the constraints of a designated lifestyle in juggernaut of a society. Sure, we can choose what job we want or what to study. But, ultimately, we must be driven by numerical or monetary goals. At least that’s what we’re bred to believe.

Constantly many of us are asked why we do certain things as if our personal interests are absurd or impractical. But I ask this: Is anything besides the basic actions required for survival (food, water, shelter) necessary or practical? If not, shouldn’t any means of survival be respected? Isn’t every other practice or interest relatively insignificant?

Obviously, very few people, if any, choose to solely devote their lives to the basics of survival. Many people choose to obtain the means of survival through a series of unnecessary actions. This is called a job. Some jobs focus on finding the best way to do something. The catch is that there can be multiple ways of doing the same thing correctly, even with insignificant, time-filling practices like sports. I’ve never watched Sports Center but I can be sure that championship athletes and coaches have a multitude of strategies that can bring success.

A different facet of the principle that applies to survival extends to the aforementioned insignificant practices: different strategies work successfully for different people(s). The key to living and exciting and fulfilling life, at least in some respects, is to accept the ways people do things if it has worked successfully for them. If you’re struggling, try something someone else is doing, maybe you’ll have a good time. In this process, feel free to discriminate against those who stick to a certain practices even though they have consistently caused problems. Yes, I just told you to discriminate against nearly everyone.