The Noble Conspectus: Diversity
As travel becomes more common and communication more frequent, people of vastly different religions, and those of no religion, will find themselves interacting more and more. This is inevitable.
As this happens, pressure will continue to rise, and conflict between groups will be ever more tempting. This pressure too is inevitable.
It is time for we humans to make a choice - not only as a people but as individuals. You, the reader, must make a choice.
On the one hand we can persist in the attitude that, if everyone were just more like ourselves, the world would be fine. We can insist on showing others the light, even as they decline our offers. We can smother them in our "love" and "kindness" as we speak to them condescendingly and insult everything they hold dear.
We can insult, defame, or preach doom to those of other beliefs, driving them away or making enemies of them with our aggressive or dismissive stance. We can assault them with snide comments, roll our eyes at their words, and disparage their motives.
Once those methods fail, we can attack them politically or violently - casting them out from our realm, even as more and more of them enter.
We could choose this path. But this path leads to neither cooperation nor conversion. Eventually, no matter what corner of the world we are in today, we or our descendants will find ourselves surrounded by those who believe differently. As these pressures build, this approach can lead to only one place, and that is complete or continual destruction and suffering.
Knowing the coming pressures of our global situation, why would one choose this path? It is not rational to ever speak one word or take one action against those of another belief out of anger, disrespect, ridicule, or despise unless we are prepared to take these deeds to their logical conclusion and butcher these people ourselves with sword in hand.
If this seems extreme, consider that we ourselves may not wield the sword, but what difference does it make if we are willing to help create the sword or the environment in which it is used?
A man who wishes to advance in his career does not slap his boss in the face, and a man who wishes peaceful coexistence does not stoke disrespect and animosity with word or deed.
On the other hand, we have a second option. We needn't give up our beliefs or our rights. We needn't refrain from telling others about our views, but we can use a different approach.
Even if we think those of other beliefs are incorrect, we can view them as victims of their mistaken beliefs if we must, but have compassion for them. Consider what our words will sound like to them and do not sabotage our own efforts at communication by causing them to put up their defenses. Show them we are willing to treat them with respect and kindness.
And what if they do not return our kindness? Consider how unfortunate they are to be so locked in their views that they cannot even be reasonable or considerate. Let us not return their lack of respect with our own, for this will only cause a downward spiral. When we return disrespect with the same, we allow others to control who we are and how we behave, like a puppet. Let our actions be about who we are, not who they are.
Regardless of where we are or what our beliefs, we can choose today, right now, to commit to a new ethic - an ethic which is fully compatible with our dedication to (and expression of) our beliefs, but one which is absolutely essential for humanity.
The Diversity Ethic
The Diversity Ethic is beyond mere tolerance, but it is not capitulation or subjugation. Even if we believe that all those of other beliefs are taking a path of ignorance or doom, we can still maintain that belief, and voice it openly, as this right is included in the Diversity Ethic.
The ethic consists of eight parts and is as follows...
1) I will be honest and open about all of my beliefs, defending my rights - even if I believe others or their beliefs to be wrong and even if others could be offended by my beliefs.
2) Without sacrificing my content, I will always phrase my statements with sincere care to be sensitive to the feelings of others - not to belittle or offend for its own sake.
3) When others attempt to be respectful to me in stating their beliefs, I will refuse to take offense, no matter how these views compare to my own. I will look only at the speaker's intent to be offensive, rather than the content of the message.
4) I will be open to working and interacting with those of other beliefs in a cordial manner. I will consider them as equals and treat them humane and friendly. I will never advocate isolationism or segregation.
5) I will not only tolerate, but support the rights of others to voice their beliefs by the same standards and rules I am allowed to voice mine - promoting freedom of speech for all.
6) I will never attempt to use the power of the state to give unequal advantage to my religious institutions and beliefs (or the lack thereof).
7) I will seek out unbiased knowledge about the religious beliefs of others, and not merely learn about them through people of my own belief system. I will try to truly understand what others believe from their own words, even if I do not share those beliefs.
8) I will hold to the Diversity Ethic even when others do not. I will not take another's disregard for these principles as a pass to do the same. My civility and standards, however, will not keep me from advocating my views or defending universal rights.