Sunday, September 05, 2010

Vive le Difference

I have come to a wonderful conclusion: Racism, sexism and ageism is primarily dead in America. But cultural ism is alive, thriving and kicking. And the two should not be synonymously used.

What do I mean by "culuralism". By that I mean the refusal to most people to be around people with different likes and dislikes, affinities and sensibilities, irrespective of color, gender or age.

I like running backs that when they cross a goal line do not self-congratulate by dancing, shimmying or jumping into the stands. Similarly, I prefer not to play--if I were still young enough to play--football with them. Or darts. Or cards. Black, white or brown, male or female, or age is not the issue.

I like soft Jazz and Mozart. I don't like Acid Rock or Hip-hop or the modern vocal singing style of screaming. Black, white of brown, sex or age is not the issue.

I like books, intelligent discourse and a subtle, ironic sense of humor. I don't like People magazine, screaming heads and fart jokes. Black, white and brown, sex or age is not the issue.

So, if I avoid other people, black, brown, or white, female or male, young or old, who don't like things that I like, who avoid quiet achievement, quiet, complex music, and quiet truth-seeking--as opposed to opinion bombarding--conversation and humor, I'm sorry. The others should--and do--seek each other out and probably--and understandably should--avoid me.

I believe people naturally tend to like people who like like what they like, who behave in a manner that they find compatible--who share their cultural desires and affinities; and to avoid others who do not share these desires and affinities. That is not racism, or sexism, or any other -ism but culturalism.

Let me go a step further: I offer the idea that diversity is not a fundamental fact of human society. It is a learned choice; it is similar to sharing. Both concepts are and should be taught in kindergarten. They are very civilized ideals, mind-enlarging and choice expanding, like a liberal arts education. But like any other element in life, they become off-putting when taken to extremes. If one remembers from one's college experience, although we took a wide array of courses across the whole spectrum of human knowledge in our first two years, eventually we were asked to major, to focus on that which primarily appeals to our sensibilities and likes.

So it should be. (And will be whether we like it or not,) Soon after kindergarten, let the geeks find the geeks, the cheerleaders find the football players, the homely seek the homely, the quiet seek the quiet, and the self-congratulatory seek other self-congratulatory.

This is good and natural: an over-emphasis on forced diversity or endless college courses that have no appeal--or sharing, for that matter--can quickly become very divisive. America was coceived of and works best as a melting pot, not a blender, a stew not a puree. The pursuit of happiness does not mean everyone will end their pursuit with equal desires or achievement.

Viva le difference.

I am not a racist, sexist or, for that matter, in spite of being old, am I an ageist. I like young people, middle-aged people, and old people. But I like them at any age, color or gender to listen with me to quiet jazz and Mozart, to discuss all matters intelligently and humorously, to share the ultimate ideal of objectivity (which is as hard to attain as sharing and true democratic diversity, by the way), and to avoid self-congratulation and fart jokes.

Is that too much--or more importantly, unnatural--for me to ask?


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