Everybody's Got One
A blog. An opinion. An elimination orifice. A dream. An agenda. A past. A hidden talent. A conceptual filter. A cross. A charism (often the same). A task. A wound. A destiny. A lost love. A blind spot. A bad habit. A secret. A passion. A soul ... okay, maybe not everybody ...
Wednesday, July 24, 2002


Our new pastor has arrived. The rotation is always a difficult thing, especially when a popular priest who's been somewhere a long time gets replaced. My sense from watching my own and other parishes is that it can take two to three years to stabilize after a good priest leaves. That's a high cost to prevent empire-building or habituation.
The new guy – older, not young, thank God – made the usual introductory speech at all the major masses this weekend, mostly hitting the right notes. One thread, both politically and tactically correct in a place with a number of different groups and competing agendas and claims on limited resources – any real-world organization, that is – was the importance of diversity in community. Fair enough; but something ... clanged, softly.
He had recourse to that venerable strawman, If everyone were exactly alike, it would be boring. Also impossible. So – what's your point? (Maybe you're thinking of that Chinese curse, May you live in uninteresting times. No, wait ...)

While I agree with Paul Cella (no permalinks – posted 7/22/02) in principle, I confess that there are some commonly held ideas that I find incomprehensible. Prominent among them is the notion that diversity is a virtue, in and of itself. It isn't. It can be a useful tool or strategy for dealing with the unknown, a way to hedge bets or prevent groupthink – more often it's simply a fact of life that we have to deal with, preferably well and fairly. But a virtue, a positive value per se? Of course not. Obviously not. How can anybody seriously believe such a daft thing? Does anyone, really?

Lots of people have experienced the diversity claim by those using it as cover for their true and occasionally justifiable desire to redivide assets in ways more to their liking. Maybe promoting this belief is really only a tactic – at worst a stalking horse, at best a lazy way to avoid debating the real costs and rarely quantifiable benefits of diversity-friendly action by trumping facts with a moral claim. Maybe the Diversitites are only reacting to what they perceive as a widespread belief in the Virtue of Uniformity qua Uniformity. (It isn't one, either, and most reasonable folk know that.) Maybe believing in Diversity-as-virtue doesn't require believing a host of other silly things; maybe there's just a high correlation.

Diversitites consistently misunderstand the point of e pluribus unum. It's from many into one, with a clear procession and moral priority, not from one into many yet somehow retaining oneness without doing anything in particular to support or sustain it. Differentiation and fragmentation are a normal and predictable process; emergence, creating order where it wasn't before, is neither, I believe. In a closed system, it's an accomplishment just to maintain an existing level of order, much less to create something greater than the constituent sum. I'm afraid the Diversitites are doing entropy's work.

I imagine that's not who they think they're serving.

posted by Kelly | 4:52 PM link