What Is The Real Price of Diversity?
Yesterday, I was walking to the bank in Pacific Palisades when two elderly women ran out of the beauty salon wearing ugly cardboard and plastic sunglasses. Their hair was covered in the foil used during dye jobs to achieve that “natural look.” In unison, they yelled at me, “Do you see anything?” “No.” Then, they laughed. “What do we look like?” I smiled and replied, “Americans my darlings, Americans.”
Los Angeles is the single most diverse city in America. Here, we are used to differences in a town filled with countless tribes and neighborhoods. Partially, this is because we have attracted one of the most powerful talent pools on the face of the earth. Those of us who want happiness in the city of fallen angels have become fairly permissive about the diversity of beliefs. And, why not? California is the birthplace of an ideology. We hatched the idea that if you are an American, you can believe anything you want. “Truthiness” began on the bluffs of Big Sur where Esalen opened its doors in 1962. The organization was quite attractive to the human cerebral cortex, that unique wrapper that allows us to make things up. The new movement attacked science, medicine, history, religion, anything was up for grabs. Timothy Leary doled out LSD, Emily Coleman led nude encounter groups. One of the founders was led off to a mental institution, clearly a conspiracy by the 1% to suppress the new truthiness.
Are we really prepared to do away with an embedded idea that if you are an American, you can believe anything you want?
This past weekend, we could not get to Gold’s Gym in Venice because of a rally against Google. Ever since James Damore was fired for his incendiary memo about what’s wrong with gender equality in the tech world, crazy people have been pouring out of the woodwork. There I said it. Personally, I believe that Google did the right thing in letting Mr. Damore go but they were not very clear in their reasoning. Mr. Damore’s interminably long and poorly written memo revealed he was not the brightest bulb in the chandelier. Lack of smarts is a felony at the world’s biggest information company.
Turf protection is the big unvoiced driver behind bias and racism. The notion there isn’t enough for everybody shows up in all types of stories that with any type of rigorous examination simply will not hold up. The 50-year growth of you can believe anything you want is now emerging as a war of ideas. Beliefs have become a blood sport in this country as well as the workplace where erroneous stories flourish in the face of accelerating change. I believe the craziest amongst us are driven by their terror of the future.
When it comes to the truth, the stories we tell are not as important as the quality of the questions that we ask. Socrates began a movement that I participate in today. He believed that if you ask people the right questions they would come to their own truth. Unfortunately, the political and religious leaders of the time had him poisoned because they did not want to have the population thinking for themselves. Right now, our country is in a war of ideas and beliefs. Personally, I believe it is healthy for us to be engaged in the conversations and arguments at hand. But, we are in very real danger when we give up questioning what is in front of us.
Here are a few examples:
- Why would developing people for jobs in coal, oil, retail big box stores, and trucking represent a good investment in our future?
- What evidence is there that gender, gender preference, the color of one’s skin, and religious belief relate to productivity and value?
- How can I tell this is a belief, an idea, or it is really true?
- Is this story coming out of fear or is it something I ought to pay attention to?
Questions trigger cynicism and contempt. But, over time, they really do help us get to the truth. So, as this storm of ideas and beliefs and fears and aggression flows through the nation and the workplace, start asking questions. Don’t give much energy to the close-ended questions that can easily be dismissed with a “yes” or “no.” Ask the questions that push people to make their case, that trigger their innate intelligence.
Like Los Angeles, we are a nation of tribes. Right now, we are witnessing a new form of terror that multiple tribes are losing in the game of turf protection. Instead of being at war with each other, what would happen if we went to war with stagnation and with holding onto the past? What would happen if we responded to erroneous beliefs with the very questions that inspire truth?
The real price of diversity are the casualties from our ongoing distraction. Make no mistake. Our arguments and shock and outrage are distracting us from intellectual, moral, and spiritual growth.
I don’t really know if everyone has a place at the table or the capacity to change or the capability to establish her or his unique place in the world. But I choose to believe it. I work on that mission every single day. When people come into our programs, we suggest that rather than arguing with our point of view they try on our philosophies for a couple of days. See where the ideas take you. Then, we ask questions.
Perhaps it would be valuable that instead of making our case, we start asking the rigorous questions that will lead our nation to the all important outcome of truth.
(C) Copyright, 2017, David Harder – (All Rights Reserved)
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