In the aftermath of the bombings of Roman Catholic churches and upscale hotels in Sri Lanka, a poster on The New York Times website gave me pause. I don’t remember the substance of the post or whether it was by a man or a woman but I remember the last line: I choose safety over diversity.
As if. As if you must choose one or another. As if homogenous communities are any safer than hetrerogeneous ones. Indeed, aren’t you more likely to be better off if you can get along with a wide variety of people? I remember writing on my college application essay that I hoped college would further my understanding of people. I knew it would teach me many subjects. But I wanted to meet many kinds of people and learn more about what made them tick.
Apparently, not everyone shares that curiosity. But our subject here is the limited critical thinking and imagination that reduces everything to a binary system and the notion that you can’t hold two thoughts, particularly two contradictory thoughts, at once. It suggests that in order to be safe, you need to be with those who aren’t “other.” Yet what explains violence within homogenous communities? And what happens when your group becomes the other? The New Zealand mosque shooter, who killed 50 and injured 50 more, is not Muslim. He is a white supremacist. And now Christians, victims of the Sri Lankan bombings that killed 350, have in some areas turned on their Muslim neighbors. Where does it end?
The problem is not any one religion but rather an either/or perspective that demonizes whatever choice is rejected. It’s the result of the failure of the educational system worldwide, abetted by the unfiltered anonymity of the internet that spurs ludicrous pronouncements. So how can we raise money for the restoration of Notre-Dame de Paris when there are so many poor among us, as if we can’t do two things at once.
How can we take time away from the continuing crisis in Sri Lanka to note the first birthday of the adorable Prince Louis, as if in the midst of death we can’t also celebrate life. Are these sanctimonious naysayers just showing off or are they really that dumb?
The Prince Louis critics are particularly baffling. You would think an innocent baby would be one subject everyone could rally ‘round but no, no, there was criticism of his combed hair, his supposed lack of cuteness, his chubbiness and the fact that his mother, Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, didn’t hire a photographer to snap his portrait but took the press-released photos herself — which she only does on birthdays so the press will otherwise leave her kids alone.
By the way, Louis’ father, Prince William, is in New Zealand, today for Anzac Day, remembering all the Australians and New Zealanders fallen in wartime and meeting with survivors of the mosque attack. If hate is unlimited in our limited either/or world, the good news is so is love.