the necessity of diversity

Posted on March 19, 2009



Celebrate Diversity? Absolutely, but that’s
not enough…

At the heart of all systems in creation is such vast
diversity, that…

“We need to depend on diversity”

(Margaret J. Wheatley)

All of life is made up of systems.

And research shows that the more diverse a system is,

the more sustainable it becomes.

Diversity gives life.

“Diversity is a necessity and key to survival of life on planet earth.

“The more diverse a system is, the more resilient it is and the more able it is to withstand stress. This is the way the world operates. Obviously we should join its way of operating. Yet man has fought diversity through colonialism and industrialization. In the spirit of old Darwinism we spread out and conquered the world, ignorant of our true dependency of own environment.”

“Nature is so committed to creativity that it ‘abhors uniformity’. The work-as-machine metaphor that dominated the modern era got us to think and act in uniform and standardized processes as machines do. But this is not the way of the natural world. Nature is biased in favor of diversity. And creativity is itself an act of diversity, as Wendell Berry reminds us: ‘Nature not only produces species diversity but also individual diversity. Nature produces individuals. No two days are the same, no two snowflakes, no two flowers, trees, or any other of the infinite number of life-forms.”

Matthew Fox, Creativity, p. 44

Most people get so caught up in their lives that they can’t see the environment they live in and have created. Like asking a fish, “How’s the water?” The fish would say, “What water?”. To a fish, water just “is”. It is unobserved and thus invisible. This applies to our lives in so many ways; in individuals, organizations, communities, and nations. In all systems, this is what causes stagnation. We must seek perspectives from outside our own thinking and culture to   instruct us and bring fresh practices and attitudes . . fresh “water” into our stagnant pond.

Einstein said that we cannot solve the problems we have created by the same thinking that created them. Therefore we MUST look outside of ourselves, our cliques, our churches, our communities, our culture, our country to find new thinking. We must open our hearts, minds, and eyes so that we do not just see, but so that we begin to See.

“If we are to achieve a richer culture, rich in contrasting values, we must recognize the whole gamut of human potentialities, and so weave a less arbitrary social fabric, one in which each diverse human gift will find a fitting place.”

Margaret Mead

Dare we deny anymore that we are killing ourselves through conformity; our absolute fear of what is different???

  • Environmentally
    by operating independently, to dominate, subdue, and thus destroy that which we are completely dependent on?
  • Intellectually
    by narrowing our minds and living in environments that promote opinionation and pronouncing judgment rather than embracing diversity, suspending judgment and connecting to wonder?
  • Organizationally
    by functioning in our competitive silos of practice, our silos of thinking, our silos of conversation, unwilling to dialogue and collaborate in an environment of diminishing resources and exploding needs in our communities?
  • Individually
    by trampling others on our way to nowhere, by ascending our ladders of success, by running over people on our way to the best Black Friday deals?

We keep pushing forward without thought . . . without thought of the consequences of our actions, without regard for the impact on others, without Seeing that we are all connected, that in our  diversity we are all one under the same skies.

‎”‘We need to depend on diversity’. . . (this) is a survival skill these days, because there’s no other way to get an accurate picture of any complex problem or system. We need many eyes and ears and hearts engaged in sharing perspectives. How can we create an accurate picture of the whole if we don’t honor the fact that we each see something different because of who we are and where we sit in the system? Only when we have many different perspectives do we have enough information to make good decisions. And exploring our differing perspectives always brings us closer together.”
(Margaret Wheatley in her foreword to the book, The World Cafe)