Of course we must resolve to teach Diversity in all of its resplendent richness! Diversity is the preferred “modus operandi” for any growing culture, any successful institution, and any person serious about human maturation. It is only by reaching toward an appreciation of diversity that we can truly participate in a whole-hearted and full-blooded affirmation of the human family in its entirety.
May I suggest that we respond to the thematic challenge by yoking it with another, one which Dr. King asked in the time of his flesh among us as he embodied his great work on behalf of all people: “The question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be.” (from “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” in Why We Can’t Wait, 1963) The pressing question in our own time is “Will we be extremists for adversity or extremists for diversity?”
The brand of extremism posed by those championing adversarial relationships is a potion laced with exclusion, enmity, and an excessive gall toward anything and everything that is not like them. Theirs is a recipe for revenge and retribution toward anyone who avows a perspective — theological, political, social, or otherwise — different from theirs. Theirs is a toxic pollutant intended to foul all tributaries of discussion except for those which can pass their standards of “purification.” In the face of the efforts of those who would promote adversity, let us band together with a commitment to an “extremist” position which is a clear, diverse alternative. And let our “extremism” be permeated with the following guiding principles.
** Creativity is always to be prized. And creativity often involves conflicts with prevailing norms of taste, cultural preferences, and occasional taboos. The exercise of creativity is sometimes painful, but it is one of the dynamics which clearly defines us as human.
** Politics without compromise is totalitarianism, and leaves no room for democratic discussion.
** The search for peace — on any level, personal, familial, filial, professional, relational, and societal — is at the heart of the religious quest. That which does not make for peace is ultimately not of God.
** Love without justice is soft, and fuzzy, and mostly innocuous; justice without love is cruel, and brutish, and ultimately reptilian. The balance between love and justice is always to be treasured as an ultimate hope by people of good will.
** The need to blame — God, others, oneself — seems endemic to the human creature, but it can be overcome with tolerance, forgiveness, and patience.
** Toleration is only a first step which should lead eventually to celebration.
** The worst slight any human being can inflict on others is to treat them as if they are invisible. All people — regardless of their form of “extremism”– are to be regarded as “Children of God,” no exceptions.
Let us be extremists for Diversity!
— Bob Hill