The Peoples of the developed world are fortunate to live in an age when diversity is more than just tolerated or even acceptable. We live in a time when diversity is widely encouraged. Over-confident in the self-evident merits of diversity, however, the developed world too often takes for granted the notion that all people automatically accept the argument for diversity in all situations. Despite the merits of diversity, even tolerance is far from a universally accepted concept. Unfortunately, the apathy stemming from this mentality undermines the global struggle against the most degrading and heinous forms of discrimination.
Superficial views on diversity encourage a push for superficial diversity as well as a reliance on the merits of diversity to justify support for sociopolitical agendas that seek to mischaracterize the nature of a particular issue. In other words, there are clear benefits to diversity, but efforts to force diversity onto others leads to social backlash that undermines constructive efforts to encourage meaningful diversity. Hiring unqualified minorities to demonstrate diversify, for example, can lead to discrimination against qualified non-minorities, which discredits the merits of diversity. This leads people to view diversity as a destructive effort to be politically correct. In turn, they come to mock and resent diversity instead of supporting it.
Nobody likes to be excluded. Nobody likes to feel bad, because they are different in some way. Ironically, the overzealous embrace of diversity is used to guilt the world into supporting the inclusion of everyone in everything. If everyone is the same and belongs to the same social groups, there is no longer any diversity. When it comes to the tolerance of our differences, even differences in culture, lifestyle, and behavior that we might find offensive, there is a universal appeal. When it comes to acceptance and support of one’s culture, lifestyle, and behavior, it is a personal decision and process.
A recent article written by a high functioning autistic journalist named Dylan Matthews argued that the world was wrong to call autism a disease. Clearly, autism is not a choice nor is it a character flaw deserving of any ill will. It is, however, a disorder, because it undermines a person’s ability to function. Autistic people may have varying degrees of low to high functionality, but they suffer from a disability that prevents them from interacting with the world as is needed to survive and thrive. Where the article does offer powerful insights into the historic mistreatment of autistic individuals, it attempts to characterize autism under the politically correct, nonsensical term “neurodiversity.”
Certainly, there is a great deal of what some call “neurodiversity,” which would be considered part of biodiversity, exhibited by the human race. On the other hand, cancer, Alzheimer’s, and mental illness are also natural expressions of human biology. We call them diseases, because they are harmful. People with disorders like autism have a disease, not just a unique way of interacting with the world. Their condition prevents them from functioning as healthy human beings. It is not a matter of humiliating or stigmatizing those who have autism. It is about recognizing these people are not perfect and helping them to overcome their natural limitations.
Moreover, it is important to remember diversity matters to society, because the experiences and talents of people with different backgrounds help improve our communities and economies. Experience matters, because individuals with broad and extensive experiences in both their professional and personal lives are most likely to offer unknown, applicable solutions or improvements that are useful in solving problems. As such, a lack of diversity can undermine productivity or lead to less creative thinking as well as less creative problem solving. Of course, it is also important to recognize discrimination can be a double-edged sword. The push for diversity cannot be used to promote harmful reverse discrimination and superficial diversity.
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