Over the past couple of years I have determined two specific points. First, PEOPLE are dynamic. By design or accident we share the same DNA allele structure. We, a single ‘race’ of bipedal silicon bags of mostly water humanoids, have experienced both biological-genetic and psycho-social cultural drifts but we are still the same. These drifts bring behavior decisions that Kottak (2003, p. 13) called ‘Universals’; decisions based on human experience influences. Second, each of us IS IMPORTANT! Life really should be ‘A PEOPLE THING!’
This two-part perspective leads me to think that, boiled down to a single point, there are ‘no’ naturally occurring barriers to diversity. All roadblocks to diversity are PEOPLE-decision caused. There are many ‘detours’ that may be blamed (geography, cultural, etc), yet each detour is inter-related to PEOPLE decisions. I would speculate that these roadblocks or detours are covered by a single umbrella. Barriers are ‘learned’ behaviors. Within this thought I see three key societal influences that impact PEOPLE-decisions toward diversity.
First, some people are reared in an environment where diversity is frowned upon and sometimes downright despised. This is a society where the people do not know any different. In these cultures the normative of no-diversity is valid, not abnormal psychology. Some cultures actually euthanize disfigured babies, ‘wrong’ gender babies, and the old-folks who have become burdensome. For many years people groups of SE & SW Asia would euthanize babies of mixed tribe or cultural heritage. My interest and activities in multiple mission trips opened my eyes to these realities. This society breeds the leader who will either never accept diversity in the workplace, or may accept it under protest and then start the undertow of contention.
Second, some people are reared in an environment that realizes people are different but teaches that different peoples are ‘inferior’ or „superior‟. Similar to the warped thinking many Caucasian people felt, and maybe still feel, about people of color. This is not a Caucasian vs. non-Caucasian issue; evidence the Black-on-Black or Latino-on-Latino gang murders. This trait was evidenced by the mistreatment by U.S. citizens against U.S. citizens of Asian descent during WW II. This trait carries into cultic groups; north vs. south, Yankee vs. Rebel, inner-city vs. rural, inner-city gang vs. gang, political liberal vs. conservative. This trait lends to the ‘glass-ceiling’ within the corporate structures. This trait is akin to the first point, but the people of this behavior trait know better. This society breeds the leader who will accept and tolerate enforced diversity but will not really embrace the concept. This society breeds the leader who will accept and tolerate enforced diversity but will not really embrace the concept.
Third, some people are reared in an environment that realizes people are different but they do not know how to go about dealing with issues. Sometimes this is fear-based, sometimes based on lack of experience or knowledge.
Sometimes it takes codified action by law makers and the Courts to force the issue. These people want to do the right thing but don’t know what that is.
For example, many of the ‘Church'(cooperatively speaking) peoples of the world still do not know how to properly deal with people who make personal life decisions about personal behaviors. I offer how we see many ‘Church’ people pushing away the gay/lesbian/homosexual peoples and the ‘Church’ responses to single parents, divorced or separated by other cause, the non-traditional trend following teens, the pregnant unwed girl, and others. (CCCU Advance; IPHC Experience)
Having slapped this group, this society breeds the leaders who will embrace diversity proactively and encourage others to do the same once they understand the multiple positive elements diversity brings and the steps to follow.
All three of these influences fall under the single umbrella I see as the individual’s (the leader’s) religious perspectives. There is a pattern of thought within the religious and secular communities that understands, “We are not human beings living a spiritual experience, but rather spiritual beings living a human experience”. (cited by Mancini, 2004). This is NOT a Bible-thumping thought. The learned behavior is based on Spiritual teachings and subsequent personal interpretation of those teachings. Being a-religious is actually a religious perspective and therefore directly influences personal decision making.
It is the Spiritual aspects of our beings that make us ‘who’ we are. These aspects drive our personal and professional behavior patterns at work, play, school, where-ever. Who we are behind closed doors will eventually display who we are in public arenas. I am emphasizing the PEOPLE aspect of each of us.
Maslow followed this logic in development of the hierarchy of needs. The highest of the Maslow needs are people-behavior based.
Pavlov determined that the theory of conditioned response could be broken by decision making that followed reasonable logic. Behaviorists like Skinner and Erikson (Vander Zanden, 2000) made allowances for the Spiritual impact toward human behavior and development. Erikson even modified his human development schemes to allow for changing Spiritual development within PEOPLE. I guess Erikson understood that PEOPLE are dynamic.
I would never argue that we should all believe the same religious principles. However, all of the U.N. recognized and accepted religions have value of life and value of life and equality in treatment of people threads.
These threads, value of life and equality of treatment, cross all religious boundaries and are part of what make us ‘who’ we are. This is foundational to achieving true diversity, the proverbial melting-pot. The value of life and equality of treatment, cross all religious boundaries and are part of what make us ‘who’ we are. This is foundational to achieving true diversity, the proverbial melting-pot.
In summary, there are no naturally occurring barriers to diversity. All barriers or detours toward diversity are PEOPLE-decision based. Societal and Spiritual influences are foundational to decision making and lend to producing three types of leaders: 1) the leader who will either never accept diversity in the workplace, or accept it under protest and then start the undertow of contention; 2) the leader who will accept and tolerate enforced diversity but not really embrace the concept; 3) the leader who, once they understand the multiple positive elements true diversity brings, will embrace proactively and encourage others to do the same. The roadblocks or detours preventing diversity are PEOPLE-decisions based.
In closing, I recall that PEOPLE are dynamic. Meaning: Learned behavior can be unlearned and replaced by new learned behavior.
If we are going to continue to thrive as a Nation then we must get past any discussion of the ethnicity or gender of our political candidates?
Good, reliable, ethical leadership is not an ethnic or gender issue!
Thanks for listening.
CCCU Advance. (Fall, 2004). Beyond Color. Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. Washington, DC.
IPHC Experience. (April, 2005) (Multiple Issues). LifeSprings Resources. Franklin Springs, GA.
Kottak, C.P. and Kozaitis, K.A. (2003). On Being Different: Diversity and Multiculturalism in the North American Mainstream. Second Ed.
Mancini, F. (2004). Mind, Body and Soul; A Common Sense Approach To Optimal Wellness. Pro-Solutions for Healthy Living. Vol. 2, Issue 3, p. 2. Mind, Body and Soul; A Common Sense Approach To Optimal Wellness. Pro-Solutions for Healthy Living. Vol. 2, Issue 3, p. 2.
Vander Zanden, J.W. (2000). Human Development. 7th. Ed.New York. McGraw-Hill Higher Education. Ed.New York. McGraw-Hill Higher Education