Contemporary culture may reject classical virtues that were nearly universal until last century, but it would be a mistake to think it rejects virtue and morality altogether. What’s happened instead is a replacement of real virtue with hollow substitutes. Faith, Hope, and Love are now Diversity, Inclusion, and Tolerance.
Importantly, whereas the classical virtues are truly Good (that is, they reflect transcendent Goodness, which is the Nature of God), the new virtues are totalitarian are are not, when understood to mean what they do to modern people, good in any meaningful sense. Lets consider each of them on their own, starting with Diversity.
The old definition for diversity is philosophical, and is the opposite of unity. It just means a collection of distinct things. Diversity in its historic sense is a description of the world, not a virtue.
Contrast this with the modern definition, taken here from a community college:
All of our human differences.
Here is the more full definition from the same site (emphasis mine):
The concept of diversity encompasses acceptance and respect. It means understanding that each individual is unique, and recognizing our individual differences. These can be along the dimensions of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, age, physical abilities, religious beliefs, political beliefs, or other ideologies. It is the exploration of these differences in a safe, positive, and nurturing environment. It is about understanding each other and moving beyond simple tolerance to embracing and celebrating the rich dimensions of diversity contained within each individual.
Diversity is a reality created by individuals and groups from a broad spectrum of demographic and philosophical differences. It is extremely important to support and protect diversity because by valuing individuals and groups free from prejudice, and by fostering a climate where equity and mutual respect are intrinsic.
“Diversity” means more than just acknowledging and/or tolerating difference. Diversity is a set of conscious practices that involve:
- Understanding and appreciating interdependence of humanity, cultures, and the natural environment.
- Practicing mutual respect for qualities and experiences that are different from our own.
- Understanding that diversity includes not only ways of being but also ways of knowing;
- Recognizing that personal, cultural and institutionalized discrimination creates and sustains privileges for some while creating and sustaining disadvantages for others;
- Building alliances across differences so that we can work together to eradicate all forms of discrimination.
Diversity includes, therefore, knowing how to relate to those qualities and conditions that are different from our own and outside the groups to which we belong, yet are present in other individuals and groups. These include but are not limited to age, ethnicity, class, gender, physical abilities/qualities, race, sexual orientation, as well as religious status, gender expression, educational background, geographical location, income, marital status, parental status, and work experiences. Finally, we acknowledge that categories of difference are not always fixed but also can be fluid, we respect individual rights to self-identification, and we recognize that no one culture is intrinsically superior to another.
That’s a lot of content for a simple term, and interestingly enough, there’s no clear definition offered. In fact, the definition reads rather like an apologetic of “diversity” as a social imperative.
According to this definition, diversity entails acceptance, appreciation, recognition that some people have “privilege”, and the abolition of discrimination of all kinds. This makes diversity not a description of the world, but a modern virtue which must be actively pursued, and which compels total acceptance and appreciation of, presumably, all “ages, ethnicities … work experiences …” as well as other things not listed.
The definition is rife with self-referentially incoherent statements.
For example, we are to “recognize that no one culture is intrinsically superior to another”. Really? According to this definition, the modern Western “diversity” culture is vastly superior to the “discriminatory” culture it condemns.
Another example: Diversity includes knowing how to relate to members of groups we are not members of ourselves. But we must also recognize and respect the “right” to self-identification, which means group membership is fluid and essentially meaningless. All it takes to be a member of another group is to self-identify as such. If the boundaries of groups are meaningless, what does it even mean to relate to members of other groups?
Yet another example: We must eradicate all forms of discrimination. But we are also told that we must acknowledge institutionalized privilege and discrimination, which requires us to discriminate between people who have privilege and people who do not. But if we can only oppose discrimination by engaging in it, we have committed a logical fallacy.
A final example: We are told to move beyond tolerance and into embracing and celebrating people who are different than ourselves. But most people in most of the world do not hold that diversity is a virtue. In order to embrace and celebrate them and their culture, we must embrace and celebrate the idea that embracing and celebrating other opposing cultures is wrong. Another logical contradiction.
This statement was clearly not produced by a competent philosopher of ethics or religion given the multitude of contradictory demands, but by a bureaucrat or administrator at a local university. It reads like the incoherent drivel these sorts of people often write, as further evidence.
Even further than the incoherence of the modern view of diversity, though, is the fact that diversity is simply not always good. It is not good to have diverse views on adultery or murder. It is not good to have a diverse amount of competency among professionals. It is not good to have a diverse grasp of the English language when trying to write English. In these and many other areas, we should prefer merit and genuine virtue over diversity.
Consider the short definition above, that diversity is “all of our human differences”. Do we really want to celebrate, accept, and embrace all of our human differences? Like our criminal behavior? Our mental and physical illnesses? Our hatred for people?
But still further than this, diversity is rarely good in the first place. Other than among the most ardent adherents of diversity, diverse metaphysical, ethical, political, epistemological, and religious views do not lead to harmony, but disharmony. Unity on essential and important things is to be preferred. This is rarely possible to achieve perfectly, and so diversity may well describe many real scenarios where people of different belief systems and backgrounds live together. In such cases, though, there is still a requirement that everyone believe in the basic value of human life and the respect of other people. Diverse views of the value of other people or whether we ought to respect other people is not going to produce harmony.
For all these reasons, I think the modern definition of diversity can be safely rejected. You’ll notice, if you go back to the college definition, that the merits of diversity (that is, what good things naturally come about from it) is not mentioned at all. While diversity is defended in its own definition, instead of merely defined, the benefits are not listed. There are simply breathless threats that we must do this or that. The closest attempt to do so is this grammatically invalid sentence:
It is extremely important to support and protect diversity because by valuing individuals and groups free from prejudice, and by fostering a climate where equity and mutual respect are intrinsic.
I suppose in the twilight of Western civilization, you can’t expect college-educated college educators to be able to put a subordinate clause after “because” in a sentence.
But even though no good reasons are given for this worshipful attitude toward the total acceptance of everything other people do and are, it is extremely important to support and protect the concept anyway. I strongly suspect this is because there are many people who are paid to promote this material, and without protection and support, they’d need to get real jobs.