Diversity

“Diversity”, what does that really mean? Today we would believe it means to embrace and learn about our differences, to value that which is different. However, the root meaning of the word means “to turn away” or “to turn aside” (http://www.etymonline.com).  Other versions of the word, divert for example, illustrate this point. If you divert your attention, you have “turned away” from your task at hand. If you are looking for a diversion, you are looking for something take your attention away from your thoughts and situations. To be diverse also means to be contrary to being agreeable. It was idea used in modern governments beginning in the 1790s to put up obstacles to prevent the government from becoming arrogant. The idea of diversity as we know it now is even newer than that. This current understanding of diversity has only been around since the 1990s. So, to paraphrase one of my favorite movies, “You keep using that word. I don’t think it means what you think it means.” Diversity as a concept was not meant to bring us together. It was meant to keep us on our toes, to be contrary, to be divisive, to cause disagreement. If we really want to value the ideas, opinions, and cultures of those different from us the word we are looking for is “understanding”.

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