By James Hull
Back during my undergraduate years at the University of Mississippi, I discussed with two of my professors, Dr. Vaughn Grisham and Dr. Thomas Flynn, an idea I had called “Cooperative–Competition.” The thought being the only reason to engage competitively in sports, education, science, technology and other fields of endeavor is to advance that field.
In the furthering of diversity, the field of endeavor is the advancement of brotherhood and humankind, and I have concluded that racial, cultural and even sexual diversity are all about “Cooperative–Competition.”
In the concept of diversity, individuals and groups don’t necessarily have to agree in order to co-exist. Neither has to advance the other’s position, but just recognize that the other does have a position, however opposite to his own. More importantly, neither has to resort to negative, mutually destructive behavior and dialogue in order to affirm his own position. Yes, there should be an effort to persuade. Yes, there should be the freedom to disagree. And, there should be an effort to vigorously and vehemently promote one’s position. But, there should never be an effort to assassinate, defame, embarrass, condemn or destroy.
That, to me, is the true meaning of diversity: allowing different – and oftentimes diametrically opposed – ideas, philosophies, lifestyles and creeds to co-exist without fear of repression, oppression or suppression.
That’s because my idea of diversity evolves from my understanding of “agape” love. Diversity, in my mind, should not flow from the pressurized world of political correctness, or even the well-intentioned philosophy of social inclusion. The ideals of diversity should flow from the moral imperative of agape love.
I believe that diversity carries with it the elements of liberation, communication and education. Granted, an individual is free to choose whatever lifestyle, life partner or life lessons he or she desires, as long as those choices do not cause or result in death, riot, insurrection or destruction. Inversely, even if those choices and actions cause harm to none, I am free to speak against those choices as my conscience dictates.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once wrote and spoke that: “People fail to get along because they fear each other; they fear each other because they don’t know each other; they don’t know each other because they have not communicated with each other.” If we would only just talk to each other and not at each other or past each other, we would allow ourselves to become more educated about each other. Diversity is about education, not condemnation.
Diversity should flow out of love, not fear.
If racists – black and white racists – truly want to make humanity better and advance the causes of human worth and dignity, they don’t have to like each other, just “agape” each other enough to communicate their mutual fears and distrust, extricate themselves from their mutual pasts and dedicate themselves to jointly build a more beneficial and prosperous future.
If the moralists and the GLBT communities both believe in respect, freedom and the advancement of humankind, let them agree that both are free to be right – and wrong. After all, on both sides of the gay and lesbian issue are parents who have children and children who have parents. Parents and children should love each other despite their differences.
If Democrats and Republicans both want – as they say they do – a healthy and vibrant economy, safe and quality schools, less crime and equal opportunity for everyone, let them stop their divisive partisan bickering, and allowing themselves to be driven by the intolerant extreme ends of the spectrum
The only way to get there is through love, communication, and diversity.
James Hull is an award-wining journalist and a political consultant. You may contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.