The importance of integration
This is an open response to State University of New York at Fredonia professor Dr. Stephen Kershnar’s June 11 column, headlined, “Is diversity still a priority?”
Dr. Kershnar I noticed you took to writing about affirmative action (again). I’m devoting my June column to answering the question: is diversity (and integration of the diverse) a worthwhile priority and does it suit human nature.
You theorized that integrating diversity is neither natural, nor desirable, and I couldn’t disagree with you more. My stance is that not only is it natural and worthwhile, it is the driving engine of the evolution of life and as a natural law, can neither be consecrated nor invalidated by any hubristic, culture-bound, ephemeral Supreme Court system. But the courts can fail to promote this natural law, and in doing so they fail, as they have failed so often recently, to redress injustice for the vitality of democracy.
I’m going to speak plainly. The only thing that distinguishes a meal from a pile of raw ingredients, is their integration. Your body couldn’t process nutrients to convert food into energy without the integration of specialized physical processes integrating their diversity.
The only thing that makes your next breath possible, is the integration of diverse gases.
The ecosystem you’re sitting in, is integrated into larger relationship to the planet, and it is teeming with diverse forms of life. Earth is integrated within the diversity of the cosmos. Monks could explain better than I, that because Everything is connected, Separation is an illusion – a trick of limited perspective.
Evolution and survival are determined by the ability to integrate/adapt to ever-fluctuating conditions. Integration of divergent cultures and ideas created the fusions of music, philosophy, medicine, art, literature, and technology, that make our daily lives possible.
You have to integrate data to get knowledge. When knowledge integrates it matures into wisdom. Learning itself is the integration of diverse information.
The first clear sight a baby has of its mother is not possible until the diverse optical mechanisms can discern the reflections of light and integrate the data in the brain. When a baby’s vision integrates with the sound, smell, and feel of the mother, healthy emotional impressions form attachment bonds.
The very first step a baby takes is the integration of individual muscles.
You can say you don’t believe in integrating diversity, you can dig your heels in and be dragged by it, but at the end of the day, you can’t escape it. You could try to abolish diversity, but it lives in every man, who integrates diverse thoughts, feelings, memories and facets of their personality. If you couldn’t integrate your senses, they would bombard and overwhelm you mercilessly.
Three words: Irish Potato Famine
When you rely on the success of one dominant crop, all it takes is one fungus to cause mass starvation. Look up the term “monoculture,” to understand how homogeneity is a natural vulnerability.
On the geological time scale, homogeneity has only really taken off for the blink of an eye: as a profit tool of industrial civilization. The natural human longing for standards of predictable, identical, widely available products, is rooted in the evolutionary desire for a sense of security. But just because something feels secure in the short-term, doesn’t mean it won’t ultimately cause self-destruction.
We live totally through integration of diverse factors, and to try and deny that, seems like the stance of Fear (incited by the market-manipulated scarcity of resources). It is Love that drives for higher ideals. It is Love that values the uncharted and immeasurable. It is through the heart that the last activists find strength to stand up for the dying things that matter to them in the core of their being. It is through Love that life will retain meaning for men in a harrowing post-petroleum era. We will seek to reintegrate through cooperation with the earth and each other, or perish on heaps of inedible private property with long-since bullet-less machine guns still clutched in our hands.
It has been said by evolutionary biologists such as Jeremy Griffith that the agony of the human condition is that we were once instinctual animals, in a paradise state of union with our natural condition; without the neocortex to contemplate symbolism and ego, the meaning of life and death; without the capacity and the associated responsibility to discern right from wrong. Our increasing alienation from the natural world we are literally composed of, is the metaphor of the Fall from Grace. The Fall is essentially, the disintegration and sense of exclusion from the innocence of our animal origins.
Everything Professor Kershnar said about diversity and affirmative action is falsifiable, rife with common mediocre outdated myths, and rather archaic prejudices that, if applied, would handicap young people preparing to enter a globalized market. To be insular and incestuous in order to preserve the pureness of pedigree is the territory of the inbred monarchy and of KKK fantasy. I am surprised that a professionally employed scholar would endeavor to publish an intellectual argument based on anecdotal evidence so nonviable as ‘just look around, similar people sit together,’ nor have the gall to speculate on the subjective experience of a minority group, ‘they get low-self esteem from being outmatched by their colleagues.’
The way I see it there’s but one worthy place for an op-ed from a privileged white male professor against integration of diversity and that’s lining the cage of Petey, the family parakeet.
Lindsay Morrison is a Forestville resident. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org