Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Diversity vs Monoculture

We should prefer cultural diversity over monoculture.

When we over-generalise and over-simplify, we tend to become bloody-minded and impatient. We want to say "The situation is like this; why don't we just do it this way. Simple!"

But the fact is that while we are all like fundamentally as human beings, we are also all unalike in our tastes, preferences and values.

If we are all equally enlightened in the same way, yes, we can say all agree to live life in the same way - like all our religious teachers.

But we are not. We are each wired up differently, because of our hormones, genes, upbringing, culture and the things we read and see. We also want to be different, and try very hard to be different. This is ego, but ego is what is keeping ordinary men and women and even children alive from day to day, as they search for their own uniqueness and niche in life, which gives them meaning.

Given such diversity, it will be a shame to set one set of values as the overarching set of values and impose that on everyone.

The First Emperor of China might have got the right approach in dealing with diversity - invent a commonality for the eyes, but leave everything else as they are but evolving around that commonly accepted value.

We should in fact encourage creativity and evolution for a diverse culture to blend into something new and unique. By fossiling one set of values and imposing it on everybody, we run the risk of making ourselves irrelevant to the modern world.


Jeremiah said...

The issue is not between diversity and a legally imposed mono culture. The issue is between thriving in diversity and yet affirming our common human values.

Humans have a common need for goodness, i.e. the unspoken moral law of right and wrong which is common to most, if not all, civilisations. If you take the trouble to compare the moral teachings of ancient Egyptians, Babylonians, Hindus, Chinese, Greeks and Romans, you will find they share more common values than any major differences. For example, men from different cultures (not religions) may differ as to whether you can have one wife or more but they have always agreed that you must not have any women you like.

So this hidden code of right and wrong is already wired into our systems and I don't believe it is a matter of taste or fashion.

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