Sunday, April 29, 2012

On Diversity and Multiculturalism

The first axiom of multiculturalism is simply that Diversity of behavior should be allowed to reign and restriction should end.

Then a second axiom leads to the caveat that one person or group’s free behavior should not impinge on the freedom of another person or group. Respect for all is essential. So for example one group’s freedom cannot bring inequality and suffering to a racial group or to women. Within diversity there must be consistent diversity.

We live in a Social Diverse though some will deny this. When we do not respect the principles of a Social Diverse as some anti-diverse people do, then we have problems, we have suffering. The principles of social diversity demand that we respect difference, appreciate difference, learn from difference, use difference, and promote difference. Multiculturalism is a natural behavior in a Social Diverse. Equality is a fundamental premise of this condition. And action to create equality is an exigent call upon all. The citizen in a diverse democracy is ever alert and vigilant.

The Socially-minded individual is a connected person without alienation or selfishness. Individuality without sociality is unhealthy; it leads to many problems of emotional behavior and also to a society of stress. We also know now from history that too much sociality is not good either. What we are then seeking is the right balance for ourselves as individuals and for society as a whole. We are looking for the Social Individualist.

A diverse perspective would say that you cannot be the whole of society because you are an individual, a part, and this is good and joyful and creative. But at the same time we must understand that you must represent the whole too! This reversal of thinking is key to a harmonious culture. In your mind the whole must be understood and maintained. So the two forces, one of individuality and the other of sociality, affect each other, aid each other, they work together to create a society of cooperation and caring. These two contradictory forces reflect the truth of the world, thus when working together they will uphold our world. Diversity and commonality are the twin pillars of a community.

The problem of multiculturalism in a Nation cannot be solved through "Culture'. A nation cannot unite a disparate population by selecting some elite or majority culture as the basis for national unity. Many groups will not be able to relate to this dominant system because its values are alien to them, not within their very different experiences. Further too many points of unity are demanded and thus any attempt to interconnect people will fail from the sheer quantity of ideas which will spur conflict on many levels.

We need a minimal unity for a linked association, based less on 'culture' and more on values and principles. Less is More, and Higher is Broad. In this way we can maximize the number of signatories to a new vision.

When we look at culture on a planetary level we are clearly moving up the scale in values and principles, we are thinking of unity in terms of moral precepts, peace, the Human race, protection of Nature and much more.

Multiculturalism and globalization ascend the ladder of ideas just as the views of an individual must transcend to a higher state of ethics, love, creativity, spirituality etc. It is all about getting to the next higher level in a long evolutionary process.

Individuals may generally prefer their subcultures to others, but at the same time they can appreciate the multicultural milieu because it stimulates and offers new things. There are degrees of perception here -- at one end of the spectrum we have temporary and partial interaction, and in the middle we have active synthesis of other behaviors into one's own paradigm, and then at the opposite end of the spectrum we have some higher level of synthesis where groups build new cultures. So we have a diversity of ways that personal diversity manages itself. And an individual may practice all three on differing issues.

It should be understood that there is no 'center' in a multiculture. We have unity about fundamental principles and values but no culture has priority by principle or law or right or legacy or theological belief.

False multicultural ideas might be:

·         Homogenization of different groups into a blend in which important differences are actually lost, an integration that levels and equalizes resulting in a bland and featureless mono-culture

·         A 'multi-cult' which might be some group's idea of a multicultural solution which predetermines what will happen and redirects natural and free developments.

·         Shell culture hypocrisy, a shell culture is a culture that publically professes one value but actually practices another value which is the true core value.

·         A racist version of 'diversity' in which bigots support a hostile notion of superior culture surrounded by a sea of inferior cultures, each supposedly free to practice its values.

·         A supposed multiculture where one group holds economic power and other groups have none

·         Etc.

There is the issue of fixing damage to those who have suffered from bigotry. A declaration that a new world of ethics has arrived is fine but still we have a legacy of injury that is economic and psychological. Thus programmes are required to remedy the problems. Those who say no fixes are necessary have not yet grasped some basic principles upon which diversity and a multiculture are based.

These would include:
·         Empathy, feeling the pain of others, understanding what they have and are going through. This is opposite to selfishness, apathy and sociopathic behavior.

·         Golden Rule, do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

·         Love of the different, love of the same is all too common, to solve modern problems we need also to cultivate a love of the different. And this love in the end is about care and action.

·         Diverse thinking, the attitude of seeing all things, ideas and people in diverse terms, as a natural expression of a basic force in the cosmos. This is opposed to 'iso-think' which is the mode of thinking in terms of isolations, of singular causes and solutions. Diverse thinking also seeks Diverse Wholes. And Diverse thinking leads to Diverse strategies for complex problems.

·         Creative thinking thrives in an environment of the new and different and enthusiastically synthesizes ideas into new combinations

·         A Spiritual approach that sees the necessity of personal responsibility and action, it is concerned with the fate of one's 'soul' and the impact of one's soul upon the souls of many others.

In this period of recession there are those who think there is only a finite amount of joy and it must be regulated and directed toward certain groups and not others. But this is not true if we all work together then all can share in a new economic future. In a democracy affluence is spread about. Fundamental economic changes can be made.

Further, some have descended into a Survivalist mode in these bad economic times and feel threatened by most other social groups and most individuals in general. Survivalism however breaks up an existing community and a potential community, it obstructs collective solutions and brings us all down.

We are being challenged to move up to a higher level of behavior, to the next higher level of a Human being. Animal fear and anger must be left behind. And while we have created many impressive 'human' things such as technologies, economies, medicine, tall buildings, social institutions, global media and so on, we must transcend this immature definition of ourselves. A progressive striving to the next stage of our evolution is demanded. Remnant animal behaviors must be abandoned, and self congratulating and shallow images of ourselves are obsolete.

Diversity and multiculturalism are fundamental issues of our time. We are being tested. We are being pushed to the higher phase of our evolutionary journey.

And many of our ascendant behaviors are involved – love, empathy, the golden rule, creativity, diverse thinking, diverse strategies, the spiritual, socially concerned individuality, higher moral principles.

So while one is seeking the proper relationships with other Human beings, the individual is re-conceiving what she or he is, redefining what a "Human" being is. The social and the personal go hand in hand.

Cage Innoye

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