Lately, I have found myself drawn more and more to the idea of diversity and its importance in our lives. This realisation was triggered by my experiences when I became vegan a little over a year ago. As a vegan, and before that vegetarian, I found that I didn’t necessarily want to have to eat at restaurants which catered for vegetarians exclusively, I just wanted to be able to eat at restaurants that offered enough variety in their menu that I could choose dishes that were suitable for me. I don’t want to live in a world that is tailored to suit my needs and wants, I just want there to be enough variety and freedom that there is room for me in it.

For me, I think diversity and consequently the right to be different is of crucial importance to my humanist stance and also my everyday life. If humanism is to base itself on rationality and empiricism then the need for free discussion must be paramount. If humanism is anything then it is the assertion that there is no one life path dictated by another authority but that one must think for oneself and consider possible actions and consequences. Humanists should know better than anyone that we don’t want to be dictated to on what we believe or don’t believe. The role of humanism in the world that I envision involves creating a space and community where individuals can discuss issues of living and ethics that interest them with like-minded individuals and, furthermore, takes action to protect this opportunity and right. There is much to be learned from those whose views differ from our own. The need to convince another of my way of thinking isn’t important or necessary to me, I do, however, staunchly insist on my right to my beliefs based on my reasoning and consideration. What others believe does not concern me so much, until it encroaches upon the freedom of beliefs and hence lifestyle that I and others choose.

Every individual is uniquely created and acquires unique experiences and circumstances. Within any set of individuals there will be common experiences and beliefs as well as differences and unfamiliar conditions. Whether frustrating or fulfilling, every interaction with another brings us new insight and issues to ponder. It is the nature of the human mind that it thrives on new experiences and learns from all information it processes. Diversity is essential for healthy and active human minds, and makes for a more interesting and beautiful world in general. There is, after all, no logic or morality to aesthetics and there is something to be learned from everything. The right to diversity is also the right of the individual to exist, and should be encouraged and protected.

4 Responses to “Diversity”

  1. 1 grammarking January 15, 2008 at 1:12 pm

    Dawkins would probably attribute the fact that diversity is seen as so essential in our lives to the way we’ve evolved, but that would depend on whether you consider it part of our genetic makeup or down to consciousness.

    In evolution, diversity in the gene pool is essential because it means the species is more capable of adapting to natural disasters, forced changes in diet or environment etc. So we may be genetically programmed to consciously prefer diversity. That’s why people who use evolutionary philosophy as an excuse for ethnic cleansing obviously don’t understand evolution properly.

  2. 2 Hugo August 5, 2008 at 10:50 pm

    Trotting off with the idea of the usefulness of genetic diversity applied to memetic diversity and possibly over-extending the metaphor:’

    …And memetic diversity could be useful in evolving culture and morality to deal with new challenges. However, memes must then not be held too dogmatically, it limits the adaptability and “interbreeding” capabilities of a meme-complex. It results in the speciation of the complex, resulting in inter-species competition for the same resources: human minds. There aren’t any geographically disconnected niches anymore, with interconnectedness (e.g. the internet) all memes and meme complexes are competing for the same human minds.

    Of course, that is precisely why meme complexes might prefer to demand dogmatic adherence, as a co-evolved meme complex it is beneficial to each individual meme to cooperate in implementing dogmatic adherence to fight off the competing memes. Selfish memes…

    So the important thing to me then becomes the dismantling of dogmatically held stances, rather than actually changing the stances themselves. That comes with mutual understanding, and careful self-reflection, so that is what I aim to encourage.

  1. 1 That humanist « That humanist Trackback on January 15, 2008 at 7:07 pm
  2. 2 Representation « This humanist Trackback on August 5, 2008 at 12:10 am

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