Diversity (February 23)


“The glory of creation is in its infinite diversity” (Anonymous).

IT’S HARD TO LOOK AT THE WORLD WE LIVE IN AND NOT BE INTRIGUED BY ITS INTRICACY. Rather than being one homogeneous substance throughout, it’s made up of billions and billions of separate entities. This world’s not a vanilla pudding; it’s a tossed salad. And what a diverse salad it is! You could spend twenty-seven lifetimes studying the earth and not even list everything that’s here, much less describe how every thing is different from every other thing. If variety’s the spice of life, we’re surrounded by spice, aren’t we? And shouldn’t we be grateful for it? The diversity of our world is a part of its strength and beauty, and meditating on that is a helpful exercise.

As persons, most of us would be stronger and more beautiful if there was more diversity in our character. There is a sense, of course, in which simplicity is beautiful, and we’re not recommending here that any of us try to become complicated, difficult, or hard to figure out. Our point is just that variety can be a valuable thing, in ourselves just as it is in the world at large. Our characters will be better if they include various elements that reinforce one another and round us out.

One thing that can add diversity to our own characters, obviously, is to become interested in and respectful of other human beings who differ from us in significant ways. As Charles Dickens has one of his characters say in Martin Chuzzlewit, “Them which is of other natures thinks different.” Our own thinking is strengthened when we learn how to view things from the perspective of people who stand at a different spot, and come at things from a different angle than we do. This doesn’t mean that every viewpoint is equally helpful or accurate; it just means that our thinking needs to be fertilized and enriched by input from sources outside our own present patterns of thought.

How many different kinds of people can you enjoy working with? How various are the situations in which you can be comfortable? How diverse are your tastes? Your habits? Your ideas? If your answer is, “Not very,” you’re missing out on much of the world’s amazement. So jump into the tingling waters of diversity and go for a swim!

The heavens rejoice in motion, why should I
Abjure my so much lov’d variety.
(John Donne)

Gary Henry – WordPoints.com