In forms of life, the natural world is incredibly diverse. Take the bee, that great partner in our ecosystem. There are about twenty thousand species of bees, ranging from the two millimeter long Perdita Minima to orange-sized carpenter bees. Two species of the American Bumblebee are down eighty percent, heading toward extinction. Beware dear bees! There are forces in play nowadays gaining momentum—forces reducing diversity and increasing extinction.
The creativity and diversity of nature is evident in many other ways. Just think of the diversity of colors, shapes, and capacities in living creatures. Diversity is equal to the challenges of the ever-changing environment. In one way, it is the cornerstone of evolution. The picture of life that emerges: an opportunist that never gives up finding new ways to replicate and complicate itself.
But this poses a challenge to human intelligence, which for practical reasons, needs to simplify its mental picture of reality. There’s a need to reduce it to concise units of meaning, perception, and manipulation. But life is a more expansive agency in the theater of nature, very much at odds with sameness and uniformity.
Diversity turns out to be unfortunate for people that happen for some reason to seem noticeably different. ‘Different’ may suggest to certain folks the uncanny, the possibly dangerous. It’s not that hard to hit the angst button, alive and well in our reptilian brain. In spite of the awesome wiles of inventive life, I’m sure that Nature, via her motherly persona, would urge us to chill out, be more tolerant, and learn to celebrate nuance, difference, diversity.
The ‘American’ mentality and its history is marked by intolerance of diversity, beginning with the unmatched holocaust inflicted on the indigenous peoples whose lands they occupied. The difference of skin color has been a near insoluble problem for the puritanical fanatics that settled here who imagined that white was the sole true norm of skin color. White became a badge of rank and authority, a completely unnatural and perverse assault on countless living creatures and forms of consciousness—human, animal and vegetable.
What is condemned as unnatural is mostly a sign of fear and ignorance. What I would rank as unnatural is solitary confinement inflicted on the incarcerated, sometimes for years. Again, unnatural in the extreme is the current American military budget of 800 billion dollars. This piece of unnature includes sprucing up our terminal nuclear arsenal. Meanwhile, and back to humanity, the LBGTQ movement is a revolt against the tyranny of uniformity. Certain states are creating laws that criminalize assisting trans-based medical procedures. The U.S. at the moment is at the mercy of a judicial system much inclined to undermine the right to same-sex marriage, even the right to use contraception as a weapon against unwanted replication.
There are terms that describe this assault on the diversity of life and nature--terms like authoritarianism, fascism, Trumpism, and so on. What we can say is that the American Supreme Court with its Trump-packed conservative judges is poised to enforce an unnatural uniformity and conformity of behavior on millions of Americans. This (hopefully for the fascist wannabes) will include constraints on what books we can read and on what can be taught in our schools. Uniformity of values and philosophy will make it easier to keep us agreeable and submissive.
In opposition, let’s open wide road of diversity—it’s crucial to the creative advance of our species. The fundamental energy of creative life is always looking to overflow into new modes of meaning and new forms of experience. The more democratically diverse, the richer and more evolved the possible culture.
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