In the dictionary, the word “diversity” is defined as “variety.” Ah, were it that simple.
There has been much in the news about Duke theology professor Paul Griffiths. He resigned after being disciplined for an email putting down diversity training workshops.
In an email to colleagues, the professor described such training as “intellectually flaccid: there will be bromides, cliches, and amen-corner rah-rahs in plenty.”
He resigned rather than attend the two-day workshop suggested by his superiors.
Although I’ve never attended a “diversity workshop,” I, too, wonder about their effectiveness.
Can someone “un- teach” prejudice if indeed it exists?
As human beings, we’re raised on all sorts of prejudice. It’s passed on by parents, community and associates. Racial, religious and sexual prejudices are perhaps the three most prevalent, offensive and damaging forms.
But petty prejudices abound.
When my wife and I became engaged, a sister living in Chicago was the first family member to meet my future wife, who was studying at nearby Northwestern University.
They hit it off very well. But my sister’s message to the folks back in Surry County raised concerns.
“She’s a lovely, sweet and intelligent girl,” my Chicago sister reported. “But she’s a Methodist.” My family was Southern Baptist to the core!
Also, later, there were whispers of concern when I eventually joined the Methodist Church. After all, in many minds, only Baptists went to Heaven.
In the service, Southerners were considered second-class Americans by many of my comrades from other sections of the country. And so it goes.
Two days of workshop lecturing on what in effect is how to get along with others, particularly with people of differing race, religion and sex should do no harm.
But daily association in the workplace, place of worship, in the home or in the neighborhood with people unlike ourselves would seem to be far more effective. In other words, we diversify our exposure and widen our range of interest in humanity.
Baseball ain’t boring
I should not have been surprised that quite a number of you baseball fans rallied to contradict a recent column on boring baseball.
Jim Pomeranz of Raleigh notes a few of the game’s merits:
“Baseball is by far not a boring sport. It’s a thinking man’s game because there is action which requires thought all the time, even when the pitcher is taking his time (too much in many cases) prior to either pitching to the batter or to one of the bases as a pick-off move.
“Every person on the field and everyone in the stands or watching on TV should be thinking about what could happen with every toss of the ball. If there’s a man on first and the ball is grounded to shortstop or if it is hit to deep center field or if it gets past the catcher, just think of the many things that could happen.
“Baseball is one sport where there is no clock. So if you have some place to go, don’t stop off at the ballpark, because ‘it’s over when it’s over.’”
Raleigh attorney Hugh Stevens sums up the situation succinctly: “I feel about people who don’t like baseball the way I feel about people who don’t like opera or oysters: I am sorry for them, because they just don’t know what they are missing.”
What about poetry, Hugh? To some people, reading poetry ranks up there with eating raw oysters. Hollywood has just made a movie about reclusive poet Emily Dickinson. Don’t expect it to be a nail biter.
Yet few poets have made poetry as palatable as Emily Dickinson did. Even people who hate poetry can be corralled into tasting the literary form if force-fed a bit of Dickinson. She wrote in the language of the people and on subjects of almost universal acquaintance. Here’s a sample.
A Bird came down the Walk—
He did not know I saw—
He bit an Angleworm in halves
And ate the fellow, raw.
No Trump tweet
No, I haven’t had any tweets from the President in response to my humble suggestions on how to improve his persona rating. The only tweets directed my way came from a Carolina wren singing her heart out atop the back patio storage room wherein she has probably built another nest.