Writing Contest “Diversity” What a Diverse Society Needs

Contest: Essay for Zeitgeister
Illustration: © Tobias Schrank

As of 2021, the Earth is home to 7.9 billion people. 7.9 billion people mean different cultures, numerous faith and religions, ethnicities, genders, beliefs and sexual orientations. The society that we live in is often labelled as “diverse”.  But what exactly does a diverse society consist of? 

By Shalini Singh

Maslow’s “Hierarchy of Needs” suggests that after the fulfilment of physiological and safety needs, humans tend to look for a space of belonging. This can refer to people with the same mind-set that may come together to form a group, and the thirst of belonging to an ideology or a likeminded sect of people is hence quenched.  Now the question arises, if similar minds or cultural backgrounds can form a “diverse society”? The answer is no, they can’t! 

If different groups of people coming from different cultures and perhaps contrasting or even clashing belief systems coexist together, then they can be called a diverse society. The concept of different cultures coexisting together can feel like a blessing, because people from different walks of life and diverse socio-economic backgrounds come together and share their experiences with other social counterparts. This cross-cultural exchange can be really impactful when it comes to individuals’ personal growth and also the overall development of the society. A society that is diverse on the surface but close-knit through relatable experiences and of course the life skills acquired in the process are essential for individuals, groups and society as a whole. 

The diversity also provides people with occasional opportunities to break free from the monotony of their own culture and step into a new world. By no means can being open to new cultures and a potential of embracing novel beliefs  be synonymous with abandoning one’s roots or the entire belief system. Instead, taking the good from the other and redefining the fundamentals of our own groups should be the way to go.

Neverending Rivalry

Also, when we look at the sensitive aspects of socio-economic diversity, I personally feel that it helps people understand the plight of those who come from humble backgrounds. People – rather than just sympathising – start to empathise. Empathy is a very important life skill for a diverse society to function in harmony. The positives of being socially diverse sometimes overshadow the very obvious difficulties of the same. 

Many people turn a blind eye to the negatives but the sagas of rivalry among two groups or the violence that happens because two contrasting sects didn’t want to see each other’s culture flourishing are neverending. 

The belonging need, according to the aforementioned Maslow’s “Hierarchy of Needs”, never warned anyone against the human tendency to feel too proud of their own faith and culture so that they cross the line, blurring pride and arrogance. Rigidity and narrow-mindedness are just some of the by-products.

Still a Utopia?

Personally, I feel that diversity, though very important, doesn’t necessarily result in peace. For harmony and peace to prevail, mere physical coexistence is not enough. Appreciation and acceptance of other’s beliefs and perspectives and occasional participation in a cultural exchange is needed to support the fundamental idea of social diversity.
Conflicts and frictions amongst diverse groups are bound to happen, so to what degree can we accept that social diversity is as beautiful and ideal as it sounds? For me, it is still utopian because no matter how culturally and socially diverse human beings become, pride and ego will always be inevitable.

Like every coin has two sides, so does this topic. In conclusion, a society that is diverse comes with its difficulties. As the people who make up this society, it’s our responsibility to ensure that social diversity is really fulfilled and sustained as an asset for all humankind.