“Diversity and inclusion” have become buzz words and they mean different things to different people. The most obvious meaning of diversity seems to be acceptance that different persons, cultures, races, personalities, etc. have equal right to favourable consideration in society. Inclusion would in its turn mean the acceptance by the majority of the minority. The problem comes when the differences and minorities have become politically radicalised and want to become the majority and make the old overthrown majority into a new minority position. That is how I see it.
The current disputes about historical slavery, statues and racial prejudice have muddied these subjects in the same way as politically radical gay and transsexual agendas have done at different times. Another problem is the de-personalising of words and their use to describe collectivist and corporate ideologies. The idea of “embracing difference” seems wholesome and Christian, but it is often a point of manipulation by western ‘liberal’ culture and shallow slogans.
Personally, I am inclined to be quite cosmopolitan in taking interest in the way others live and their cultures. As a child, I never had the slightest problem with people of other races living in England. I even went through a childhood phase of looking for a way to become black! Shoe polish? Humour apart, I never considered them as being in any way “inferior”. I was profoundly shocked when I first discovered that the Nazis killed millions of people simply because they were Jewish, Slavonic or any number of minority cultures living in Europe. I always had a different and more tolerant attitude because I thought of life in terms of the world and not only my own country and race. I think this is the key to understanding these words.
What is most important is to form our own understanding and thought, and avoid following the latest groupthink or bandwagon. Those who use these words in slogans often use violence to promote what seem to be or what should be altruistic ideas for the good of others in this world. However, the radicals cause division and violence. The slogans currently used are Black Lives Matter, cancel culture, taking the knee and others. To me, none of these slogans make any sense, because all lives matter regardless of race. What does cancel culture mean? Perhaps it means abolishing the culture of some of favour that of the victors. Whose language is taking the knee? I would talk of kneeling or genuflecting, of kneeling down – which is a gesture both of adoration and penance, and done in regard to God, not man – except for greeting bishops and kissing their rings as a mark of respect.
Diversity and inclusion are words that describe our respect for others, having empathy and awareness of ourselves in relation to them. What is most essential is our ability to think critically and justly. Our age is increasingly post-rational. Romanticism is built on the reason of the Enlightenment as a foundation for the whole person including the imagination and the emotions. Unfortunately, such a paradigm is outside the thought of most people in our society.
It is self-evident to me that people in other parts of the world or who have found it necessary to immigrate into a country of Europe or America should have the right to life, freedom and the search for happiness. It is simply a question of humanity and humanism, reflected in the teachings of Christ. Do to others as you would have them do to you.
I am realistic enough to know that whatever I write will have no educational effect on tbe general public, for the simple reason that my blog would be of no interest to them even if they were aware of its existence. That is of no importance to me.
Perhaps it is because these words are used that their meaning is so shallow. It is like the ridiculous term social distancing used to brainwash us into taking precautions against catching contagious viruses. We should search for inner meanings, accept those who are different, unless of course they are criminal or violent. I do believe we should seek to resist nationalism and become cosmopolitan, identifying ourselves with a global view of humanity, we in Europe and the UK, the Americas, Russia, Asia, Africa, Australia and the entire southern hemisphere.
I do think it is important for us to learn from Christians who have had profound contact with other religions like Hinduism. I would like to learn more about Dom Bede Griffiths and his experience with the Ashrams of India and his non-dualist philosophy. I do think this could be a key to undoing many of our less Christian instincts. Finally, we will develop respect for others even if we do not entirely embrace their spiritual traditions.
If equality, inclusion and diversity are just empty words and slogans, we will not make any progress in their meanings. Our big problem is mass humanity as named by Ortega y Gasset in 1930, with all the characteristics that Nietzsche and Tocqueville predicted. It is a paradox with our democratic age in that mankind had an opportunity to overcome tyranny and the feudal system only to be rejected by a new type of humanity, the man of the crowd. Not listening to reason, the man of the crowd knows only one language – violence against what does not conform to humanity at its basest. We become influenced by identity politics, so-called woke culture and consumerism. Covid-19 and the lockdowns are truly a sign of a world where wearing a mask (or not) in specified situations is a political gesture.
We seem to need to work towards a new Age of Reason and do away – not with “religious superstition” – but with the irrationality of the mass man and the mob. One big principle of St Thomas Aquinas was the primacy of reason over the will and all the emotions. This is also a principle found in many of the Romantic thinkers who extended the rational intellect with the creative imagination and the quest for the transcendent.
If this does not happen in the next few years, I fear a world war or a revolution that will dwarf 1789 in France and 1917 in Russia. That will not be a pleasant time to live in, nor will it be one of either diversity or inclusion.