Diversity is a time-honored word in the philosophy of art. But it never stands alone. Just as a string is needed to hold pearls in place to form a necklace, so too, a principle of unity is needed to wed a diversity of factors into a work of art. Hence the adage that art is diversity within unity.
A melody is not simply a diversity of notes. A mere random series of notes is not something anyone could sing. A good melody is not only singable, but it is also memorable. It occurs when the various notes are unified into a musical whole. How this process of unification comes about is something of a mystery and is a gift to those especially talented people known as composers.
The word “diversity” does not appear in the Bible. However, we learn from The Book of Genesis that God created a diversity of beings from the inanimate to the animate. And creation was crowned in a special way. “God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good (Genesis 1: 31). It was good because everything He made was coordinated, harmonized, blended into a unified whole. It was a universe, a cosmos, the supreme masterpiece of diversity within unity. Scientists refer to this coordinated blend of different elements as “ecology,” which is the study of the interrelationships of organisms with the environment and each other. The study of nature parallels the study of creation.
In the modern world, people have become intoxicated by the word “diversity.” They have fallen in love with the mere word and not anything to which it could be related. It is asked to be a philosophical principle, but, solitary as it is, is incapable of filling this role. It is an alphabet with no words, the music score without the music. Or, to take a more surrealistic view, it is the sound of one hand clapping.
Illustrations of the futility of employing diversity are plentiful in the world of politics. One illustration should serve all. In 2016, Canada’s federal government called for future Supreme Court justices to be fluent in two languages—French and English. This action was in accord with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s declaration that the Court would seek candidates “representative of the diversity of our great country.” In February 2021, the government announced that it would formally add bilingualism as a legal requirement for appointment to Canada’s Supreme Court.
If this is a triumph for diversity, it is being sharply criticized by diversitarians themselves. The president of the Canadian Bar Association, Brad Regehr, who is Cree, has called the proposed requirement “a systemic barrier.” (We note here, parenthetically, that many have fallen in love with the word “systemic” and find instances of it everywhere, especially where it does not exist).
Others have criticized the proposed exclusion of monolingual individuals who may be more capable than some who are bilingual. Thus, it would naturally lead to selecting from a narrowing pool of candidates. In addition, since more people in Quebec are bilingual than those in all the other provinces, there would be a shift in perspective toward the French and an expected increase of an anti-West perspective. William Gairdner, author of The Trouble with Canada Still, has documented the fact that bilingualism in the past has led to increased francophone hiring.
Canada is officially, but not practically, bilingual. One can grow to adulthood in any of several provinces and not hear a word of French, although they may see the language printed on every cereal box and virtually anything they might purchase. It is misleading to consider Canada’s bilingualism as an official testimony of its diverse nature. Canada is diverse in a multitude of ways other than being bilingual.
This leads to the question concerning how diversity can be employed since the word itself offers no instructions. With regard to the appointment of a Supreme Court judge, should it be on the basis of language, ability, education, gender, perspective, religion, or any other factor that equally exemplifies diversity? In the case of Supreme Court requirements, diversity implodes on itself because it is rejected by people who believe in different kinds of diversity. The traditional diversity—the capable vs. the less than capable—is no longer regnant.
God said about creation, “and behold, it was very good.” Canadian politicians are now saying about diversity, “and behold, it is confusing, conflicting, and chaotic.” Selling diversity is like selling snake oil. Neither is a remedy for what ails the country nor for one’s indigestion. Inevitably, the application of diversity alone means exclusion. This turns out to be both discriminatory and prejudicial, as exemplified in the bilingual requirement for Supreme Court justices, for it excludes not only the monolingual but those who may be more capable, and those who are bilingual but do not combine English with French.
Diversity refers to an array of different elements. But in no way does it connote harmony between these elements. Diversity in a particular case could mean anything with regard to people’s attitudes toward each other, from friendship to hostility. The movement from a diverse group of people to one that is friendly is more than a Herculean enterprise. Gordon W. Allport’s The Nature of Prejudice may be the definitive work on the subject. He points out that Polish people often called the Ukrainians “reptiles,” while Germans called their neighbors to the east “Polish Cattle.” The Poles retaliated by referring to them as Prussian swine. In Hungary, there is a saying that “An anti-Semite is a person who hates the Jews more than is absolutely necessary.” Here is a diversity of nations related to each other in mutual disrespect.
Diversity is the platform, not the summit. The great problem, the one for which the United Nations has had no solution, is how to unify nations. It is macrocosm to the microcosm of husband and wife, diverse as they are by sex, not being able to get along with each other. Diversitarians have a nice dream, but they have no idea of how to achieve unity.
Just as God unified the cosmos, He can also unify the nations. But this will not take place until enough prayers are said and sufficient sacrifices are made. Our hope should not be in political strategies but in a benevolent God who awaits our fervent call.
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