Friday, January 21, 2005

Solidarity versus Diversity




Two recent events conspire for today's entry: JP Morgan Chase said that, despite the revelations that Chase banks in Louisiana took slaves as collateral in 1843, they are a company "committed to diversity," and I watched the stunt crew from Return of the King do a Maori native dance for Viggo (Aragorn) Mortensen at the close of shooting to honor him.

I wonder what a commitment to diversity really means. Does it mean that we commit that we will be diverse? That we will be different from each other? That we will tolerate differences? I think the best meaning is the last, in which case it isn't a bad thing. Modern nations are composed of people from many different backgrounds, and tolerance is a necessary thing in that situation.

But then I saw the stunt crew serenading Viggo, Maori-like, and I thought, perhaps what they are doing is better. The stunt crew had some Maori men in it, but most were caucasian. Yet, all of them joined in the dance. I wondered if an organization that had a commitment to diversity would have done such a thing, or would the Maori men have done the dance, leaving the caucasians to honor Viggo with a fruitcake, and those of another race to do something else. Consider that the Maori people lost their land and their freedom when the English came to New Zealand--it isn't a happy history. But, at least in this case, rather than cherishing old resentments and differences, they share their culture with the descendants of their conquerors. It was a case of solidarity, the virtue of working toward unity in human relationships, even between historic enemies. It was beautiful.

Commitment to diversity? Fie. I say Commitment to Solidarity.

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