Most Americans define “diversity” as society’s — or the workplace’s — efforts to integrate a wide range of different ethnic groups into a cohesive unit. It’s the idea of the “Great American Melting Pot.”
A young heartthrob named Frank Sinatra spoke of this in a public service message: “In America, we’ve got all kinds of different ways of talking, praying and expressing ourselves. That’s what makes this country great.”
But “diversity” involves more than mere ethnicity. It encompasses things like gender, educational background, whether one grows up in a rural, suburban, or urban setting, ideology, and age.
If we are going to be a truly “diverse” society, then we must acknowledge all of these differences. Is it not okay for people from “different” backgrounds to enjoy friendships and each other’s company? Or are the rich and highly-educated supposed to live in their own world, while the so-called working class lives in another world?
I think not. Nor does Dr. Charles Murray, author of 2012’s “Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010.” In his book, Dr. Murray argues that America has become increasingly stratified over the last 50 years: the rich live in their world, the rest of us live in our own.
Therefore, it is more important than ever for Americans from different backgrounds to come together. Diversity is not just about race. It is about appreciating each other’s differences, but also finding those special similarities that tie us together in what still has the potential to be the greatest country on Earth. In doing so, we may find it possible to achieve the ideals spelled out by Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence: “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.”
This is not something that government can prescribe through mandates or “sensitivity programs.” It begins with us, and our willingness to understand what “true diversity” really means.