Diversity is divine

I’ve been thoroughly enjoying The Tent of Abraham, which looks at the story of Abraham through Jewish, Christian, and Muslim perspectives and explores how it can be a tale of peacemaking.

One thing that struck me is the discussions of the world’s diversity in the book.

For example, Rabbi Arthur Waskow of the Shalom Center explores how the story of the tower of Babel is a story of rejecting a centralized imperial globalism (as Sumeria was trying to create at the time) in favor of diverse grassroots communities each with their own tongue and customs.

(The folks at We Are Everywhere would love this interpretation).

Likewise, the Qur’an celebrates human diversity. It says:

‘O mankind! We have created you from a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know one another.’ (49:13a)

And of course the Baha’i faith has beautiful writings about the value of diversity.

If the flowers of a garden were all of one color, the effect would be monotonous to the eye; but if the colors are variegated, it is most pleasing and wonderful. The difference in adornment of color and capacity of reflection among the flowers gives the garden its beauty and charm. Therefore, although we are of different individualities, different in ideas and of various fragrances, let us strive like flowers of the same divine garden to live together in harmony. (‘Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 24)

There is a tendency in this world to promote our way as the one and true way, to declare our people as the only good people, and our thoughts as the only credible thoughts.

These passages and interpretations remind us that the glory of creation is that there are many peoples, many perspectives, and many things to enjoy.

And this is a good thing.

Politcally, then, when policies or prejudices exclude some people or leave some groups out, then we are all diminished. To use the Baha’i example, we have lost flowers from our garden.

That’s why efforts to dismantle racism, to actively recruit diverse candidates, and to make sure that everyone has access to opportunity are so important.

We are all created by God, with all of our blessed diversity. We are all God’s people. We all share God’s earth.
And to make sure that all God’s people have access to all the bounty God’s earth is to do God’s work of justice.

Leave a Reply