Democracy and Diversity (pt. 1)
I think I have done more writing in the last few months than I had in the entire thirty years before. And that’s no small feat, considering that I’m including lab reports, college papers and narrative assessments in that figure. When I started this process of writing everything that went through my head, it started as hundreds upon hundreds of disjointed and often seemingly unrelated thoughts, ideas and observations. I kind of feel like my brain was the garage of a person featured on the show “Hoarders”. I just had to take a couple of weeks, throw everything on the lawn and start to sort it all out. (If I only found the patience to actually do this with the trunk of my car and my storage unit that would be amazing.)
Now that I have started to clean up the mess, I find myself continuing to write. In everything I have written and even when looking back at my insane ramblings of the past couple of months I have noticed some common themes; some very obvious and some quite subtle. One of these themes is how many paradoxes have seemed to become pretty much accepted and tolerated in the world today. How many times have you heard somebody refer to a “catch 22” or rationalize a thought or action as the “lesser of two evils”? Doesn’t it bother you that a majority of the decisions we seem to make these days are simply the “less evil” choice? Aren’t there any situations where the decision comes down to a choice between “the greater of two goods”? Is there a difference between these two concepts or are they just in our heads?
Most of these conflicts (I’ll spare you the madness of listing them all… at least for now) I have reduced to a common conflict of two goods – diversity and democracy.
Democracy and diversity are the two greatest – and most destructive aspects of humanity. And I very rarely speak in even minor generalizations, so to make a comment about humanity as a whole is no small thing for me. And I am not just talking about America. A democratic government doesn’t define democracy any more than the existence of the Latin Grammys defines diversity – it is merely a byproduct of something that is a part of who we are.
The problem is that democracy and diversity just don’t get along very well. They butt heads every time a decision is made. It’s easy to look at America right now and get horribly discouraged and depressed – to compare ourselves to other countries and point out all the giant flaws. I do it all the time. But while the fact that we have spun so far out of control is a very serious problem, it is also an incredible testament to how far we have come. Diversity isn’t just a catch phrase used to win over liberals anymore. If you don’t believe me, do a search for gay black Jewish republicans. Imagine going back in time 40 years (or even 4 years) and explaining that to your grandfather. Can you imagine any place or time when all of us wouldn’t have just killed each other by now? Yes, I know, we are killing each other. We can’t overlook that fact, but we also can’t afford to overlook the 99.99% of us that haven’t been killed either. Tragedies like the death of Trayvon Martin (I think we have become desensitized to the word tragedy – it doesn’t feel strong enough to me) must be discussed, prevented and never forgotten. But the fact that such an incident was a tragedy in the eyes of 99% of Americans says something just as powerful.
The next time you catch yourself considering the lesser of two evils, consider that you probably aren’t seeing the bigger picture. Ask yourself what is truly important, and look deeper. And remember that if you truly believe in democracy and diversity – not just because you were taught to in elementary school – you are only going to agree with 50% of the people 50% of the time. That means roughly 155 million Americans are going to disagree with everything you say or do. And if that angers you to the point where you can’t handle it, then perhaps it’s time you reevaluated what you truly believe in.