How Religion Renders Diversity in the US Meaningless


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How Religion Renders Diversity in the US Meaningless

History, not history as the “white man’s version,” that right-wing, MAGA Christians lament is “no longer being taught in our schools.” And not even just the newer approaches that recognize diversity and an inclusive playlist of characters (women, people of color, people with disabilities, etc.), but history as simply understanding how patterns of behavior and attitudes and actions repeat over and over with predictable results. If one is paying attention; learning that kind of history should seem to have the capacity to save us from ourselves if we let it. But this just in…

…spoiler alert…

It won't save us if it isn't taught.


Just a Little Too American

Barbecue

You’re just a little too American I think
As your family called one another chink
At the bizarre United Nations barbecue
Where your half-black cousins raced to meet your Mexican girlfriend
Where your German-speaking uncle took offense to my name
Repeatedly asking, “Is that Italian?”
While your dad beat steel tongs on the grill
Leaping flame in the air
Screaming homespun epithets,
“Shitty burgers! Fuck pants!”
While your mother cursed and ventilated hostility at the children
Who couldn’t stop spilling beverages
Ranting and threatening, “I’ll beat all your asses!”
I believed her and feared for them all
Then came the introduction,
“Everyone, this is my semi-white boyfriend. He’s Italian.”
“You don’t seem Italian?”
“Are you from NY?”
Because all Italians are from NY
And who were the French-speaking people?
Did anyone understand them? Or know them?
Oh, and your pothead brother lectured about kind bud
For two hours!
While your gangsta uncle smiled, revealing gold teeth
Agreeing with your brother, “Crucial. True that.”
While you and your family surreally conversed in fake Chinese
Because you’re all Chinese –– but none of you speak the language
As a stereo haphazardly hung from the second-floor window, blaring country music
To your insistence that the hundred roaming cats were herded for consumption
Amidst diversity’s chaos and American exceptionalism,
You cast a quick smile at me between your antics
And the day was perfect.

BBQ

A trip to her parent's home, where her family and friends joked about race and nationality, clarified the American obsession with race, ethnicity, and nationality always present, even in events like BBQs. The American ability to overcome diversity’s barriers struck me as true American exceptionalism. This party of people, who firsthand experienced stereotypes and prejudice, laughed at that hatred. Even more exceptional are the vast groups who choose to joke rather than swing the fist. For me, choosing laughter likens to my peering past any differences to her smile.


Diversity's definition is too broad. Believing differences in backgrounds, beliefs, and experiences offer benefits to society needs rational, plausible tempering. By restructuring diversity in this way, a more workable version of the ideology emerges. As I have argued concerning Christianity, which I focus on as the primary problem in the US, all outgrowths of thought (laws, culture, norms, etc.) founded on supernatural religious implausibility lead to unrealistic, irrational, actions and outcomes. Without exception, religion makes diversity a paradox of conflicting beliefs when included in the concept of diversity.

There is no such thing as diversity of religion.

Like most problems, religion is a direct or indirect complication fostering unnecessary conflict. Diversity is intended to create stronger ties and improve many areas of life by finding strength and innovation in thought differences. This can be seen in cases of communication in which cultural differences create high and low-context cultures, that when understood, can be used to build more effective communication in teams or society by structuring communication with these differences in mind.

Understanding high-context and low-context cultures can benefit communication in many ways. For example, it can help multinational organizations communicate effectively and avoid making embarrassing or offensive mistakes. High-context cultures have a communication style based on body language, tone, and overall context, while low-context cultures are more straightforward and explicit in communication. Knowing the difference between high and low-context cultures can help individuals communicate more effectively with people from different cultures. It can also help businesses tailor their communication strategies to appeal to different cultural audiences. For example, high-context cultures may use visual effects on their websites to convey their messages efficiently, while low-context cultures may rely more on explicit statements in text and speech. Understanding these differences can help improve cross-cultural communication and reduce misunderstandings. ~Data From Bing AI

This rational approach to implementing diversity naturally helps reduce stereotyping and bias through better comprehension of cultural influence.

Oppositely, religious diversity often becomes religious tolerance in which people "put up" with different beliefs due to the law, rules, etc. This is not what the religious want, which explains why so many of these people don't see a problem constructing laws on Christian beliefs in the US or Muslim tenets in the Middle East. While religions can be inclusive or exclusive this rationale depends firmly on whether one believes the religion. Inclusive religions such as Christianity are only inclusive by the their desire to convert. They are not inclusive of Muslims. Diversity founds on the idea of inclusion and this word is often confused by groups like Christians who see themselves as inclusive when really they are inclusive only in terms of desire to convert more believers. In the US, Christians talk a good game about religious diversity, but they rarely seek some middle ground with religious tolerance.

Why would they?

If you believe your God is the infallible creator than diversity becomes a sin because you must accept someone else's belief in a different infallible creator and this contradicts what you believe to be true at the minimum or in the extreme, heresy. Religious and nonreligious people play semantical games trying to justify themselves as inclusive, such as workplace discussions of religious diversity:

  1. Support employee wellbeing by creating quiet multi-faith spaces that remain private yet safe for all those wanting to observe their religious practices.
  2. Adopt flexible working patterns/approaches and train managers in how best to support staff. Allow flexible scheduling to accommodate religious practices.
  3. Educate yourself and your team about the religious differences of colleagues.
  4. Create space for religious diversity at work by cultivating flexible messaging around the organization’s purpose that allows different groups to interpret those communications in ways that are most meaningful to them, and providing separate physical spaces and schedule flexibility for employees to be able to practice their faith while at work but away from their colleagues.

While these suggestions sound great, this thin positive veneer serves only to decorate the legal demand to tolerate other religions because the firmament on which religions are built is faith in what they believe to be the truth. If you are a Christian, then any nonChristian group, and in most cases other Christian sects, become oppositional since their versions of the truth differ from yours. The same goes for most religions: Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, etc.

People who argue this point exercise extreme hypocrisy or have been rendered so irrational by their religion, they cannot see their contradiction. 

Religion injects into diversity efforts more than just unnecessary conflict by rendering diversity meaningless. By introducing an antithetical element into diversity, the only way for the irrational religious person to see diversity is as a burden. The faithful don't see religious diversity as a flawed portion of overall diversity policy but as an evil that is trying to make them accept a false god. Nowhere is this more prevalent than in the US where the predominantly Christian Republican Party opposes every form of diversity policy in education, economics, law, etc. 

Diversity becomes another failed endeavor, not just to strengthen society but to end bias and hate. By mixing religion with desirable, noble, rational goals of social heterogeneity, we create enemies from the ranks of believers who spit the word diversity, not just concerning religion but in race, gender, and sexuality.


Summer drinks too many martinis.

For Summer

Cocktails
Nothing brings people together like good drinks.

Fast stirring olives
At the bar saying
“I’m a bit racist”
Hand rising upward
“Japanese up here!”
Dropping hand way low
“All the gaijin here
“Ha! Americans
“Imperialist!
“Atomic bombers"
Fist pumping the sky
“I am true warrior!”
Swings the martini
A glass katana
Ready to battle
And conquer the world
I questioned confused,
“What are you saying?”
Arms folded, staring
Victoriously
“I am just so drunk.”

~~~

In 2016, I moved to Hawaii, and though life did not go as expected, I met many interesting people while building websites and writing content, many I consider friends to this day. One of those friends, Summer, the petite Japanese woman in this poem, drank martinis like a two-hundred-pound sailor. This poem's inspiration came from a night at a steak house bar where she gave a drunk speech I will never forget. In these moments, race becomes laughable yet still ever-present, lulling many of us into believing that hate erodes away in time. 

Conversations still echo from childhood: "What would happen if there was a black president" or "Wouldn't want a woman president who might act rashly during her time of the month" or "The Japanese are taking over the country because everything is made in Japan." The racist jokes and absurd what-if discussions normalized along with the behavior of being quiet when Blacks, Asians, Polish, Women, or a myriad of other persons-of-subject came in earshot.

If you have grown enough to realize the deliberateness of such conversations and behaviors, you likely understand the point that much of that hate never went away but simply went dormant, awaiting the awakening of the 2016 election. Around the time, my friend and I drank martinis, she asked me what I thought of Trump, and I said, "He is probably a necessary evil," meaning that he was the catalyst needed to awaken Americans to the problem of Republicanism. Sadly, he showed us more than expected: 

Nearly half a country, mostly Christians, harbored the same old hate, proving perfectly my point that diversity means nothing to the religious.  

Just Weighing Separator

gaijin: nonJapanese person.

Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash
Copyright Vincent Triola & Terry Trueman