I grew up learning about the Great American Melting Pot. It said that Americans came from all over the world but that spending time together would create a common culture of collaboration.
As a kid, I didn’t question that things would work that way. Someone in the families of everyone I knew had arrived here not that long before. at least as far as I knew. I didn’t think to ask if a TV public service announcement accurately represented culture.
I also didn’t consider that most other countries formed around common languages and cultures. France contained French, Japan Japanese. If I know, I would have found that countries with strife were divided by external agents ignoring cultural lines, like countries in Africa that European colonial powers divided or the Koreas that Cold War powers divided.
I also grew up hearing things like “our diversity is our strength.” My junior high and high school were among the most diverse communities I’ve been a part of in terms of ethnicity, class, interest, language, culture, and more.
I took for granted that everyone knew what they were talking about. I still like living in diverse communities and meeting people with different ideas, backgrounds, hopes, dreams, appearances, and so on.
But on what grounds do we believe that diversity creates strength? When I ask such questions, people often think I’m arguing against the idea, which I’m not. It’s annoying that I have to clarify that I’m not arguing a point but examining a belief I don’t know the foundation of, but that’s the case.
New York City hosts one of the more diverse communities around, but I understand the numbers show it remains very segregated. Apparently people live near each other but remain roughly in tribes. I understand there are places with lots of diversity. The middle east seems to have hosted many cultures for millennia. The Balkans too, but both areas seem to have faced more conflict than most other areas.
Is it possible humans can’t form lasting stable communities comprising different religions, skin colors, languages, and so on? The U.S. had succeeded for a long time, but hasn’t reached stability. Places that used to be more uniform but are now becoming more diverse don’t seem to be becoming more stable.
If you think diversity creates stronger communities not theoretically but practically, where are your greatest examples of it? What evidence, if any, supports your view? I don’t know one way or another and am looking to learn.
In the case of our greatest global problems, like pollution, climate change, pandemics, and nuclear war, do you see the globe resolving them? They all seem to be increasing. We sound hopeful, but what about our behavior? Do any signs show diverse groups are improving any of these issue meaningfully, not just talking? The U.S. seems to be exacerbating them most.
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