Saturday, September 23, 2006

Diversity: Harmony, Division and Solution

Harmony, Division and Solution

Diversity means differences or variations or unlikeness. In our modern world, diversity plays the important role as well as multiculturalism. Present study, diversity has been sorted with many different contexts such as human context, ecological context, radio and telecommunications, business context and politics. In human context, diversity discusses the variety of cultures, languages, ethnic groups, physical features, socio-economic backgrounds, opinions, religious beliefs, sexuality, gender identity or neurology[1]. Ecological context studies about the structure of ecological community, evolutionary computation and genetic variation. Radio and telecommunication of diversity refers to the spreading of individual actions that can shape community through space, frequency and time of diversity. In business context, diversity is approached as a strategy in improving employee retention and increasing consumer confidence. Further more, study of diversity as politics has no fixed definition. Some one thinks that this word is used to promote tolerance among diverse community.

In other aspects of diversity, Oxford English Dictionary casts some entries briefly for us to pay attention. They are pluralism, culture, gender, race, ethnicity, ethnic minority and affirmative action. In Merriam-Webster Online[2], pluralism means a state of society in which members of diverse ethnic, racial, religious, or social groups maintain an autonomous participation in and development of their traditional culture or special interest within the confines of a common civilization. In this concept, pluralism can be synonymous of diversity. Culture illustrates the meaning through different aspects such as beauty culture, a way of life, a corporate culture or cultivation and seeding. Among these, corporate culture informs well the similar concept of diversity as it says “culture is the set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution or organization”. Gender characterizes shape, social rank, manner of existence or sex, while race has shared these similar perspectives as it refers to family, tribe, people, or nation belonging to the same stock. But if we look at ethnicity and ethnic minority, author tries to distinguish these two as larger and smaller group. Ethnicity pertains to common racial, cultural, religious, or linguistic characteristics within a larger system; and ethnic minority is a group of people differentiated from the rest of the community by racial origins or cultural background. Author has also linked to affirmative action in diversity taken to affirm an established policy dealing with discrimination among minority group especially during recruitment or employment. However, diversity has complex definitions and yields different consequences. It can bring us both harmony and division.

Diversity is likely created by the developed countries like USA and Canada to identify their community which is enriched by migrants from every place around the world. It has become popular context heading beyond the concept of multiculturalism. This new concept of diversity brings peace, understanding, tolerance and harmony. It creates a sense of rich third culture. Diverse ethnic background, languages, ideologies, religious beliefs or capacities shall enhance and enrich third culture perspectives. Diversity can use to replace the word compassion, tolerance, non-violence and understanding. Basically, human beings were born with diverse dependencies caused by individual’s Kammas or actions. The Kammas qualify their appearance and dependences. Through thought commands individual to speak, through speech commands individual to act; and through action results differences or diversity that we can see it physically or mentally. And these differences of action exist in everybody. United Nations commissions their task in the context of tolerance and non-violence. UN’s mottos are rolling around compassion, tolerance, non-violence and understanding.

In this harmonious concept, diversity can be observed through the models in Canada. In 2003 census, Canada citizens comprise of 4.4% Aboriginal population, 18% foreign-born citizens and almost 80% immigrants. In this amount of immigrants, 60% Asians and 20% Caribbean, Central/South American and Africa[3]. This census can show us the most diverse population in Canada. My experiences more than 3 years in there reaffirmed my favor and contentment with this diverse society. Everybody respects each others. There are many competitions in civil administrations, public services, employment opportunities, education and innovations etc. Students in primary school, secondary school and high school are encouraged to learn at least two languages. They can choose any language that they like. It is the compulsory choice in learning second language. The slogan they use about learning languages is “more languages Canadian children can use, more tolerant, compassionate and intellectual benefit they deserve”. Nowadays, every school is trying to promote and bring more languages into school curriculum. Language is the important tool for culture and diversity. Through language, people can become the creative members of diversity; and this emerging diversity brings peace, harmony and prosperity to the community. Importantly, Canadians understand well about their obligation to abide by the state of law.

On the other hand, diversity brings along with conflicts and divisions. It is naturally diverse to differentiate people from each other. This differentiation is unique and complex. We can experience conflicts from this diversity through our daily contentment and discontentment. People share common dispute and jealousy with both close partners and strangers. This small dispute shifts to broader community. It starts from individual to individual, family to family, country to country and continent to continent. In Jerusalem, the conflict has been delayed since 8th century CE because of three diverse religious faiths which cannot be melt together because of its fundamental diversity. Now, the fundamentalism appears among the popular concept of diversity. They are afraid of modernized moving and globalization. This is the double edge sword of diversity. But the original meaning of diversity has implied conflict by itself. It diversifies people from each other. However, diversity enables the reality of human beings, and this reality which we have to realize.

In this case, if we think of finding some regions which have the most complexity of diversity, it should be located in South East Asia. Indonesia has the most Islamic population, while Philippines have the most population of Catholic, and Cambodia or Thailand or Burma has the most population of Buddhist. These diverse religious faiths are significantly noticeable. This regional diversity has demonstrated the subsequent division including massacre, suicide bombing, racism and genocidal. Presently, the Muslim insurgents operating in Thailand still exists. There are approximately around 1,700 innocent people were killed. Buddhist monks have been beheaded inhumanly. If we look back around the year of 1975, there was racist atrocity in East Timor. This caused by territory invasion and religious extremes. Only mid-February of 1975, there were 60,000 civilians were raped and killed. This huge massacre was later intervened by UN and set up a war crime international court as well as the current Khmer Rouge leaders in Cambodia. In Philippine, there are still Muslim rebellions combat against the government dominantly by Catholics. In Mindanao is the place where most Muslims live there and try to struggle for their political self-determination. With this diverse political geography can lead to sharp risk of division in the future.

Comprehension of diversity with its play roles including the terminology, harmony and division lead us to be able to explore some effective solutions. More than this, learning about diversity is mostly affirming us to find the best solution. The reality of diversity is divisive and challenging. And when we realize this, we can learn to deal with it starting from our individual’s process. Individuals are the center of all problems, especially the conflicts in diverse society. When individuals experience peace, family will experience peace, country will experience peace and the whole world will experience peace. Different cultures in this planet; we cannot assume that our culture is the best, and other culture is out of date or worse. Every culture is valuable and acceptable. Each tremendous price of culture is negotiable and bargainable. It has no absolute moral or value. So this moderate perspective of cultural diversity is applicable to the concept of globalization, and someone has tried to call it as chastened universalism. The middle path which is not being extreme in neither materialism nor self-asceticism is accurate to the modern value of diversity, globalization or universalism.

Self is the center of all things including cultures, economics, politics, environments, information, and social form; so the self must be a pivotal core of our universe. Individual’s selves are the main composition of differences and diversity. Our diversity becomes bad or good depends on individuality. So how can we grow each self to become the advantageous components of our diversity? The answers will be various. But first of all, individuals have to develop their right thought and right understanding. They will never make our diversity peaceful progress if they don’t have right vision in living with diversity; and they will never get any benefit from diversity if they don’t have right understanding. Right vision starts with the expedition of middle path in which diversity is the compound of mixing together; and this combination has become a very tasteful seasoning. We can have a tasteful spoon because we can balance all important ingredients in our soup-pot. Balancing, negotiating, open-hearted or flexibility is the synonym of middle path. When individuals believe in glorious life of middle path, they will be aware of thinking, uttering and committing every time. Thinking, uttering and committing are the foundation of all productions. Especially, the productions of diversity which we have discussed in this paragraph. So, believe in Kammas or actions that “every thing comes around, goes around” and “we do good results in good, we do bad results in bad”. This is common sense to help sustain our diversity through moderate path and conscious actions.

By Preah Bhikkhu Vodano S.
September 21, 2006

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