In diversity there is strength

Last month when I started this blog, I suggested we work together to find more equitable and sustainable ways to live our lives on spaceship Earth. How do we go about doing this and who specifically should be involved?

Historically, those responsible for making most major decisions in society have not represented the community at large. Overwhelmingly, they have been elite white males interested in perpetuating their own power and status, and the people who are most affected by these decisions have had little or no say in the decision making process.

The recent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico illustrates this point well; local communities who depend on the health of the Gulf had little say in the decisions that led to the building of the BP Deepwater Horizon rig, and certainly no say in the lack of safety measures leading to this ongoing and growing ecological disaster.

As a solution, I propose that the more of us who are actively engaged in managing how we live, the better – to build strong human societies and to live sustainably.

Why? Obviously “two [different] heads are better than one.” Each of us has a different outlook on life based on our different life experiences, and consequently each of us, together, can offer a greater variety of solutions to problems we face.

More inclusive and diverse societies are more equitable and sustainable.

Consider the recently proposed Marine Conservation Area off the coast of Haida Gwaii. It is the product of “25 years of sometimes rancorous discussion between government and the Haida Nation” (Times Colonist, 8 June/10), which will help to protect the fragile ecosystem off the shores of Gwaai Haanas National Park Reserve. Had the Haida not persisted in their vision of what is best for their nation, this ecosystem would most likely suffer continuing deterioration and the loss of a sustainable fishery.

Perhaps had the views of Gulf fishermen been taken into account regarding the construction and maintenance of the  Deepwater Horizon rig, more steps would have been taken to protect their livelihoods and possibly even prevented the worst oil spill in American history.

Fortunately, the overall global trend has been toward greater inclusion of all members of society in terms of representation and participation. This revised social contract was brought about by “second-wave” feminism and other grassroots social movements which demanded and received a greater say in how we live our lives. The result is that these more inclusive and more diverse societies have three major advantages over the elitist structures they replaced:

  1. They are more stable in terms of threat from within because social responsibility is shared by all, and consequently all have a stronger commitment to social laws and customs;
  2. They are more stable in terms of external threat, including “threats” from the natural environment, because a diverse range of  individual values and behavior offers the widest range of possible solutions to any external contingency that might arise; and
  3. They are more equitable and therefore, as I shall attempt to demonstrate later, more sustainable.

In sum, more inclusive and diverse societies are more equitable and sustainable, and are thus one absolutely essential ingredient of how we can get there from here!

I look forward to your comments.

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