Saturday, November 25, 2006

Rambling on about diversity

I am in the midst of an interesting conversation at work, and the question being discussed includes issues of privilege, as well as the responsibility of those who are suddenly "credentialed" to make a living in the United States. Also, there is the question of the purposes served by "diversity" projects that are common at most colleges in the US.

At the root of the question is the moral issues involved by fighting an oppressive entity, not necessarily in order to overturn the injustice that is inherent to the entity, but in order to more fully participate in it. For example, lets take the issue of gays in the military. From the Quaker perspective, homosexuals are equal to heterosexuals in the eyes of the Creator, and certain civil rights should be granted to gays and lesbians, and protected, by the state. Yet, one of the issues involved in the battle for equal rights under the law is the right to join the military.

In what way is justice served when the victim of oppression is granted the freedom to protect an oppressive system through the use of violence? On the same token, how is justice served when economically disadvantaged persons suddenly increase their earning potential. How just is it to grant someone who could not previously take advantage of economic exploitation new opportunities to further exploit. Questions like this should certainly be asked as we engage the wider culture about personal rights.

So, the question of credentialing and diversity comes up. How am I living according to the example of Jesus by participating in an academic system that primarily serves persons of privilege? How would inviting oppressed persons into academia serve to overturn that oppression?

I see possibilities for change, even through those dastardly religious institutions known as seminaries, but only if we pay more attention to hands on theology than we do to trinitarian or Eucharistic issues. And only if we listen closely to those diverse voices that we invite, perhaps hoping they might come 'round to agree with our own way of thinking, so that we can continue to facilitate change according to our own privileged terms.

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