Alan Keyes
July 31, 2017
Unity, diversity, and God's endowment for America
By Alan Keyes

Recently, I read a column at WND by Lindy Daniel that proclaimed, "Diversity is not a strength in this country. In fact, it is difficult to find diversity as a strength anywhere. Let's get real. Diversity is a weakness." The author goes on to claim that diversity is at the root of practically all conflict and divisiveness, the cause of all wars. She then proclaims, "Homogeneity is a strength. Sameness is a strength. Unity is a strength, and unity comes from similarity, not from diversity. Diversity requires great sacrifice. To have it, we must give up our unity."

But unless one be distinguished from another, unity cannot be self-consciously perceived. Unless one be contrasted with another, sameness cannot be self-consciously apprehended. Unless one be related to another, homogeneity has no meaning in human terms. But if unity, sameness, and homogeneity were imperceptible and meaningless in human terms, how would they be seen as sources of strength by human communities?

That question impels us to look at the relationship of mutual dependence between diversity and unity, a relationship enforced by the logic that makes human perception and reasoning possible. Except for the word homogeneity, which I take from Lindy Daniel, the second paragraph above is written in simple words. It is, however, "heavy with philosophy." But some philosophy is needed to reveal the dilemma of rational thought that invalidates Lindy Daniel's wholesale rejection of diversity.

I could go on to raise the issues with which James Madison deals in Federalist #10, where he makes plain the relationship between liberty and the diversity of passionate opinions incident to the nature all human beings have in common. I could point out the fact that Madison implicitly rejects the notion that this diversity is simply undesirable, because without it, liberty would cease. Instead of embracing sameness and homogeneity, however, Madison recommends the effort, made in the U.S. Constitution, to make diversity a source of strength and energy, in service to the understanding of right and rights, including liberty, that is supposed to unite the American people. Where would America be without the individual initiative and daring respect for liberty thus made possible?

Our country was founded by people whose Christian upbringing strengthened their tolerance for dealing with challenging concepts in political terms. Since most of them had spent some time translating the New Testament from Greek to English (often as an exercise in school), they had encountered the passages in St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans that deal with law and government. Those passages use simple words to convey complex thoughts. Though heavy with philosophy, they convey ideas that are nonetheless vital to a true understanding of justice, right, and rights, including liberty.

If young people like Lindy Daniel are not challenged to think through the philosophy that informed the thinking of America's founders, will they be able to sustain the form of government it produced? Or will they give in to the ultimately totalitarian fallacy assumed in her essay? That will impel America toward a result that overthrows liberty, in favor of some regime that worships the power and strength derived from uncritical homogeneity, regimes not unlike the ones Americans valiantly opposed and defeated in the 20th century.

If the Bible is our instructor, we see diversity as the power of God made manifest in Creation. For into the Darkness, He summoned Light, bringing diversity into the midst of sameness. Into the flowing waters, He summoned the firmament, bringing diversity into the midst of sameness. And under the firmament, He gathered the waters, to let the dry land appear – revealing diversity in the midst of sameness. From this, it appears that diversity is a principle of God's Creation, but always in service to unity and union. The very idea of the waters reveals this attribute, for flowing implies being in flux, ever-changing yet one in being.

So, the Apostle says:
    Now there are diverse anointings, but the Same Spirit. And there are diverse ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diverse operations, but the same God, who worketh all in all. And to each the manifestation of the Spirit is given, with the goal of union (1 Corinthians 12:4-7).
Steeped in the wisdom of God, made manifest in Christ, the prevalent American founders did not pit unity against diversity. They looked to reconcile diverse people with one another, in accordance with the nature God endowed to all humanity. Thus, in the Declaration of Independence, they professed to act on the understanding of humanity God gave equally to all; and the understanding of right and rights, including liberty, which God endowed to all; and a government of just powers, derived from the consent of people willing to govern and be governed in accord with that endowment.

Thus, contrary to Lindy Daniel's premise, the union of the American people was, in its conception, a union of mind, spirit, and good will, in accordance with God's endowment of right and justice to all. That endowment included the unalienable right of liberty, so that the union predicated upon it had to respect the diversity which the exercise of the right entails. But it ultimately aimed to do so within just boundaries, determined by God, for without those boundaries humanity itself may not be distinguished from all the rest of God's Creation.

E pluribus, Unum, is thus not a celebration of homogeneity, but a summary of the constant purpose of human self-government. That purpose is to understand and maintain the distinctive quality of our species. On account of that quality, we are apprised of the infinite diversity of Creation, even as we reflect upon the reason that pervades it all, and that in unison proclaims the glory of God's presence, all in all. So, though we are free to choose, our liberty is to choose what's right, as we are endowed by God to see it. Our common will to exercise that liberty is what may unite us as a nation, as we strive, by God, to do right, according to His will and testament – no matter how diverse we appear to be in other respects.

To see more articles by Dr. Keyes, visit his blog at LoyalToLiberty.com and his commentary at WND.com and BarbWire.com.

© Alan Keyes

 

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Alan Keyes

Dr. Keyes holds the distinction of being the only person ever to run against Barack Obama in a truly contested election – one featuring authentic moral conservatism vs. progressive liberalism – when they challenged each other for the open U.S. Senate seat from Illinois in 2004... (more)

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