Saturday, May 16, 2015

How Does Diversity Matter?

"Desirable" circumstance in terms of diversity, can be confusing. For instance, consider how diversity exists in nature. In natural landscapes, one often finds groupings of flora and fauna in symbiotic relation with other groupings, rather than different kinds of plant life totally interspersed with one another. Integration efforts mostly attempt the latter. How can recognizable diversity even continue to exist, if one's goal is to completely mix "contents" so that few remaining characteristics stand out? When governments and special interests reach for homogenized sameness in the marketplace, that sameness can either lull the mind into unthinking oblivion, or create needless struggle over defined outcomes.

Wouldn't it be better to encourage symbiotic economic relationships between diverse groupings, instead of struggling over differences? If regulations were envisioned as subsets - meant to generate gateways for multiple group options and capacities - life would be more interesting, and meaningful as well. Why not allow a thousand life options to bloom? One size fits all laws and regulations are turning much of what was supposed to be representative democracy, into forced compromise which feels appropriate to no one.

Decades earlier, I took part in library programs which also sought to assist local minority groups. Fortunately for those of us who were involved, many individuals who benefited from these programs provided helpful feedback. While participants voiced their appreciation for our help, something else gradually became apparent. They wanted to maintain a unique status as individual groups, without complete assimilation into organizational patterns which were not quite their own.

Plus, these individuals wanted to be able to reach out to other groups based on positions of strength. Doing so would mean maintaining both a distinct identity, as well as personal integrity. How might such perfectly natural desires be honored on a wider scale? I've been reluctant to write about diversity, and have already tossed out several related posts in recent months. However, due to a discouraging take on diversity in a recent Atlantic article, I decided to try again with this one. In "The Weakening Definition of Diversity", Gillian White begins:
What qualifies as a "diverse" workplace? Does it mean that employees are of a variety of different races and genders? Or does it mean they've had a variety of life experiences? Millennials seem to be tilting toward that latter, more easily attainable vision.
What's wrong with that millennial "version", for Pete's sake? In terms of personal and economic potential, I would certainly hope this evolving definition of diversity could be the stronger one, in spite of the author's reservations. More economic inclusion is certainly needed. But the way to greater inclusion is to make certain that real economic growth and economic access remain possible for everyone.

How to think about diversity from a knowledge use system perspective? The use of local time aggregates would allow individuals to coordinate for basic work and study needs, while gradually progressing towards discretionary preferences. At a young age, basic education provides a "trunk" or grounding point. From there, students can choose among the "branches" which local educational entrepreneurs (from all walks of life) would be able to offer.

The entrepreneurial assisting/learning method would also mean no more struggles as to what "should" be taught in school settings, and no more needing to be in the "right" schools to gain a good education. Local citizens would be able to make new educational choices on a regular basis, and also have the option of seeking out entrepreneurs from other knowledge use system settings.

Services options in particular, have been seriously hampered by differences in cultural interpretation. Some laws now coming on the books, are of a nature that the lives of millions should no longer be subjected to the opinions of special interests. By internalizing services formation and knowledge use, it would be possible for local groups to exercise more direct forms of democracy, by providing and voting for the services which matter most to them. Again, the use of coordinated time aggregates can go a long way, to provide the kinds of services which different groups find most important.

Something to remember: when services can be arbitraged internally alongside local production, there would not be a remaining budget burden for local groupings in relation to the larger (national) whole. The services coordination of local knowledge use systems would not make additional fiscal demands on the larger system, and these local arrangements would be created through monetary means. As a result, even highly diverse outcomes in terms of services formation, would not present fiscal problems for governments at any level. A thousand different visions for diversity, could overcome limited definitions which do little justice to diversity in the present.

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