This essay is prepared in satisfaction of a requirement of some employers to know how I would support "Diversity" in their context. In my experience, and as far as I can tell without exception, the word "Diversity" is used in a normative sense only by people who are themselves intolerant of persons diverse from their own narrow-minded opinions and mindless conformity.

The first half of this essay assumes such an exception exists, and describes how I expect to deport myself in such an environment. Then I more realistically also describe how I can deport myself in an environment of intolerance where the "politically correct" popular definition of "Diversity" is dominant, which term I leave in quotes to distinguish it from the dictionary definition.

I am the same person in both cases, and in both cases I gain personal satisfaction from helping people to attain socially productive goals of their own, regardless of the environment, and perhaps especially when it involves overcoming obstacles standing in the way of those goals.

Part 1: True Diversity

God made His Creation -- and the people in it -- different from each other, and I infer therefrom that God approves of diversity. It is my responsibility before God to support what God has made Good, and I do so wholeheartedly. I particularly enjoy thoughtfully engaging people with different political or theological perspectives when they are willing to reciprocate.

People have different ethnic origins, often with specific physical appearances associated with those origins. I have not yet seen any evidence that superficial appearances affect much more than what is seen on the surface, and it is my stated policy to ignore such distinctions and to reject their application toward racist policies of discrimination in every place they may be found.

People also come from cultural backgrounds with specific sets of values, and those values can have a profound impact on the ability of those people to thrive in our global economy. I do not begrudge people their cultural heritage, but if they ask me to help them acquire skills useful in a global economy, I will not shrink back from informing them of such value changes as they may need to adopt in order to achieve their stated goals. That is my obligation as an educator, and I accept it wholeheartedly. It has nothing to do with who they are as a person, and everything to do with empowering them to become what they choose to be.

People come in two physiological genders, with physiological differences beyond the obvious superficial differences. I will not deny, in the name of political correctness nor otherwise, what science has already shown in terms of the way people think, but I am convinced that what a person chooses and with determination sets out to accomplish, pretty much and in most cases overwhelms natural abilities and differences. It is my obligation as an educator, which I accept wholeheartedly, to empower people to attain socially productive goals of their choosing, and especially to overcome any initial limitations or disabilities that may stand in the way of achieving those goals.

Deferred gratification is an important component of achieving ambitious goals, and I do encourage that value.

Part 2:  A Climate of Intolerance

When an employer is paying for my time, I have a moral and contractual obligation to use that time in the service of their corporate agenda, even when I might personally disagree with that agenda or consider it to be less than socially beneficial; I except only activities that are specifically unlawful or unethical, such as lying or treason. If and when a stated component of my employment includes the censorship of my overly diverse opinions, I will do that so long as I accept the salary they pay. Of course the employer may at any time enforce such censorship by firing (or refusing to hire) me on the (false, in my case) supposition that I will be non-compliant. This has happened in the past, and (I suppose) it is likely to happen again in the future. Employers are a fearful lot, and they tend to act out their fears in ways they probably wouldn't admit to in public.

Intolerance breeds intolerance. I have a God-given moral responsibility to treat other people with the same courtesy and respect as I wish them to treat me -- even (and perhaps especially) when they are assymmetrically not reciprocating that courtesy and respect. I guess my greatest personal weakness is probably failure to handle assymmetrical situations correctly, but they are fortunately few in this country, and I experience even fewer. If I should find myself in such an environment, I hope to be able to grow into being able to cope with it virtuously and consistently, so help me God.

That said, and after the censorship issues are accommodated, my treatment of people under my charge becomes no different from Part 1, that is, I would continue in my policy of empowering people to attain socially productive goals of their choosing, and especially to overcome any initial limitations or disabilities that may stand in their way.

I cannot be held responsible for prejudice on the part of other people against diverse opinions or activities on my part, when that prejudice or bigotry is uninformed by my actual words and activities. "It's a free country," the saying goes, and people can believe any foolish thing they want. When an employer uses the word "Diversity" to foster a spirit of intolerance and prejudice against diverse points of view, then polarization and hostility are inevitable. The best I can do in such an environment is to do my job faithfully to the best of my understanding, and to try to stay out of the firestorm.

Tom Pittman
Revised 2012 October 22