Cheap Diversity vs Rich Diversity

“Diversity” is a big deal these days. It’s the idea that we should be accepting of people from different cultures, backgrounds and beliefs. For me, it brings to mind Psalm 133:1 where it says, “How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!”

But there are two kinds of diversity. There’s cheap diversity. And there’s rich diversity.

Cheap diversity is when people acknowledge there are different backgrounds and beliefs in a society, but no one actually talks about the meaningful differences within these different backgrounds and belief systems.

In an effort to get along and “be nice,” cheap diversity just focuses on what people have in common—and intentionally downplays anything that makes people different. At its worst, it even pretends no real differences exist. It’s like asking everyone to put on a mask.

Rich diversity, on the other hand, goes deeper. It also acknowledges that there are different backgrounds and beliefs in a society, but it is open to exploring the differences in a meaningful way.

I remember working with a guy in Toronto at a financial company. He was Jewish, I was Christian. He’d ask me about my faith, and I’d ask him about his. We’d also tell jokes, talk hockey, and enjoy a beer together on Fridays after work.

And do you know what? We got along great! It would have been naïve to pretend we were the same. Were there similarities? Of course. But it would have been cheap and disrespectful to pretend our faiths and lives had no meaningful differences.

In a world desperate for peace, cheap diversity isn’t the answer. I think we can get closer to the reality of diverse peoples living “together in unity” when we’re honest about our differences, willing to talk about them, and mature enough love and respect one another in the process.

By Matthew Ruttan

Something well-meaning couples do that can lead to divorce.” That’s my latest blog. And you can read it here.

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