Going underwater in Divers’ City

Harry Drabik

Not since the assassination of JFK a half century plus ago can a recall so many tears over the loss of a President. The current seems, at least to me, Presidentially unprecedented to have a political or electoral loss grieved long and hard as a death and a national tragedy. That’s some damn serious politics.

The ironies from both sides about questioning or accepting voting results are par and fully to be expected as I see these things. An election will be fair and or democratic, etc. depending on where the divide falls. In general politicians and politicals are fine with a win but quickly acquire crystal balls forecasting dire consequences of a loss. “Woe unto you harlot!” It’s rather interesting how the robes of offense and prophecy come on after a drubbing. Narrow or not a loss is a drub. The most sympathy I can muster for persons with crystal balls is that walking around with them must be uncomfortable and very awkward. Maybe it is their cross to bear, or should I call it their burden instead?

One echo result of the month gone election is the elevation of Jill Stein to the station of Best Apology Ever. I love Jill Stein. Now I’d guess that the votes she gained would have come mostly at the expense of Hillary rather than Trump. Would you agree? Well in any case Jill Stein performs the most profuse apology I’m aware of. At over five million in value and pointed at only those contests where a narrow margin went one way the Stein apology is the most profuse Mea Culpa I’ve ever heard of. I’m so proud of her and think it too unkind to suggest that never running in the first place might have done more good. But, it’s too late for that, eh? A penitential Mea Maxima Culpa with millions of Aves is as good as can be done under the circumstance, however. (I wonder how many readers will recognize the meaning of Mea Culpa. They are older, aren’t they, and likely not among the many thumb speakers of today.)

Sitting well off the loop along the North Shore gives a remarkably good perspective on broader events because they reflect here in smaller pockets that are easier to spot and observe. One that has and is fascinating to me is the way diversity has featured in recent politics. So far I haven’t seen any particular awareness from either side about the meaning and benefits/dangers of what is being called diversity.

I say being called diversity because there is obviously disagreement which to me means that each side gives the concept or goal called diversity limits. Do you think it fair to say one sides sees the other as not supporting diversity while the other side questions diversity? The dialog we fail to have in contemporary politics is that of discussion. Both sides have an appreciation for diversity but do so on different terms. Neither is quite as clear or absolute as they might think, for instance the Hillary side (if I may call it that) was swift to reject the Trump side as a kind of diversity they’d accept. In other words both side limit what they call diverse.

To look at this I put on some scuba and went diving in the Diver’s City of diversity. If a person takes a really generous and optimistic view by holding wide the doors and saying “Welcome in the name of Diversity” what happens? Will the flow entering be in actual agreement with the concept of and requirements for civil diversity? I’d say there is no reason to think it so, and especially so when the entrants come from rigidly homogeneous societies. It’s more likely that many in the flow don’t give a fig for diversity and have neither the inclination nor the foundation needed for diversity in civil or secular society. Using the term diverse or wishing for diversity in society are not necessarily sufficient to bring that result for those who pretty much reject the concept from the beginning.

Diversity works when there is agreement on its terms. In a secular western society the basics are agreement on freedom or liberty, equality, democratic values or process, and acceptance of a fair and common rule of law. If you have those things agreed on then diversity of ways to make the whole system function stands a chance at accomplishing something. But what happens soon as groups of individuals organize to reject the base in whole or part? When a group says we are not equal but separate or it says we are not subject to “your” laws they are by word or act no longer representing cultural diversity. When groups or individuals go out of their way to be separate in dress or other forms of public observance it is unlikely they are performing acts of diversity because the acts are uniform in rejection of the common standard. Separate but Equal was a bugaboo of the Civil Rights Era and is equally so any time groups and individuals divide or segregate whether or not it is imposed or voluntary. I’d be inclined to argue it is never voluntary when group identity and acceptance is involved because group affiliation or membership is an awfully huge pressure; one potent enough to diminish the ability of an individual to act freely or counter to group norms.

An irony I see is that while the Hillary side sees too little diversity in the Trump side the Trump siders are likely a lot more diversity friendly than found in a supposed diversity where groups separate and divide. Is it diversity or divisiveness when groups reject or remove themselves from a larger or “common” culture? A diverse civil society is a lot harder to reach and much more difficult to manage than one that will compromise into divisions that will eventually lead to open splits and enclaves. Union requires acceptance of basic rules and values. Good luck when union between cannibals and vegetarians is attempted.