Sunday, December 13, 2015

Diversity vs. Hegemony

I have been wanting to put down my thoughts on some of the events that have been going on recently, but have found it difficult to organize my thoughts in anything other than a rant on Facebook which would probably not accomplish much except maybe a few likes for the post and maybe causing a few of my friends to unfriend me. However, once I realized a common thread that ties many of the issues of the day together, I decided that I would share that with as many people as I can. The common thread that can be found in all of a lot of the main issues of the day is the fact that there is a battle raging today between those who value diversity and those who seek hegemony. Before I go any further I would like to define these terms. Diversity is a word that gets thrown around a lot, but often misused. Some people use diversity to mean people of different races or ethnic backgrounds. Some people use diversity to mean people of different socio-economic backgrounds or status. Others think it means all of these, and yet others think it means something else altogether. I think a lot of people throw the word diversity around without defining it because they don't want to admit that they may have a different idea of what diversity means than someone else. To me diversity should not be narrowly defined. To me, true diversity is diversity in all aspects whether it be race, ethnicity, socio-economic status, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, political viewpoint, etc. The problem comes when someone talks about diversity and assumes that it means the same thing to everyone who is listening to them. I have been at many events where I heard people talk about diversity while at the same time excluding people from that diversity. Which leads me to the definition of hegemony. Hegemony is the dominance of one social group over others. There are many people in this country and around the world who think that their particular point of view should be dominant over all others. Now that I have explained the two sides of this battle I would like to provide a few examples of how this applies to specific issues that have been in the news lately. Take immigration for instance. There are those who believe that all immigrants should be forced to assimilate to some ideal of what it means to be an American and those who believe that there is room for different cultures to be brought into the American family while still honoring and respecting their cultural heritage. This is not to say that there aren't difficult decisions to be made as to how new cultures can be brought to live in harmony within the American family, but at the same time there seems to be some people in this country who want to totally exclude some groups from eligibility to be part of the American family simply because they don't look or act, or believe the same way they do. I could go on and on about this issue, but I prefer to move on to how this struggle between diversity and hegemony applies to other issues. Another example of this is the gun control debate or as I think it is better described the proper role of guns in society. There seems to be two prevailing opinions about this issue. One is that gun rights trump everything and the other seems to be that safety trumps everything. However, I think that both of those extremes are wrong. I think there are some valid arguments to be made for the right of responsible citizens to own guns. I don't however think that means that there isn't room for some rules about what it means to be a responsible gun owner. I think that some people need to realize that we will probably never ban guns in this country, but on the other hand some people need to realize that not everyone should be entitled to own a gun or should own a gun. Again, I am not pretending that this is an easy issue to come to a consensus on, but I am saying that rather than shouting each other and calling each other names, which I am guilty of doing myself, we should rather discuss this issue like civil human beings and see what we can agree on so that we can minimize the number of senseless deaths due to gun violence. These are just two examples of how this battle is apparent in different issues our society is struggling with. In the coming months I would like to delve into these issues and others and try to foster an atmosphere of open discussion about how we can work to find common ground on these issues and respect diversity of opinion. Of course some will probably not want to join me in this journey and would prefer to strive for hegemony for their point of view. I am hoping that I will be able to show some of them the value of honoring diversity.