Unity through diversity

(Luelseged Mengesha)

Diversity is indispensable for life. Nothing functions in uniformity, and ultimately, universality requires heterogeneity to maintain its discourse.

It is apt to underline one fundamental point before I go any further, which is, the essence of diversity comes with its interdependent elements through which unity is possible, and the proof of this is written in nature as well as in social dynamics.

For example, the ensemble of mind-body-soul-spirt gives a man. In this particular instance, unity came about by the interdependent functionality of the mind, the body, soul, and spirit. Each is equally critical. Each does not make a man independently. However, when they form the unity, they simultaneously allow the emergence of a being – a unified being – a unified human being.

Similar relationships are observed in the functionality of the body of organisms, as well. The body has a number of systems that work hand in hand to effectively maintain its functionality. And if just a system is missing, the unified body does not hold. This example also warrants that unification requires every essential element — generally hinting that such formulation is empirically driven and serves both the natural and social domains.

Uniformity literally marks homogeneity and does not essentially represent unity; at least it does not in this exposition. Unity exists through diversity. And diversity mostly comes with advantages that appeal to unity. Technically, it is a natural process. Of course, these representations are not far-fetched. They are essentially intuitive and nature driven, but, at the same time, worth paying attention to.

The linear evolution of uniformity to diversity and then to unity can be exemplified by human evolution. Paleoanthropological studies posit that the migration of humans’ common ancestors from their place of origin (i.e. Ethiopia) resulted in diversification of human races throughout the world by means of natural and environmental influences.

Yet, after millions of years of limited interaction, the modern era is bringing all human races ever closer. In effect, human diversity, which points to one common ancestor, is eventually appealing to unity.

Socio-economic processes appeal to the same evolutionary paradigm, too. The specialization, hence, diversification of labor, which Adam Smith proposed in his economic theory, had been in action long before his proposal. This is to say, the idea of trade begs the conception of diversification of products. An exchange of products is only possible through the means of having diversified demands and supplies.

Therefore, national and local specializations create a complexly interwoven market system that warrants a healthy interdependency. This example illustrates that the technological advancement that we are witnessing comes with ever-increasing sub-specializations that are symbiotic with each other. In essence, their sheer difference is their sheer strength.

The notion of cultural and ethnical diversity is equally appealing to unity. However, deliberating on the rightly working paradigm could be one of the most challenging exercises. Rewardingly, successfully coming across one is also the most transformative.

Pragmatically, actively exposing and/or opposing social dynamics that do not work is equally effective. It eventually leads to the pinnacles that would not have been accessible otherwise. To illustrate my point, had the Germans opposed the egocentric movement of Adolf Hitler during his campaign and leadership, the world of the time would have been a better place – and the progress of the world society as a whole would have been expedited.

Thus, it is very important to mark the distinction of saying and becoming: it is one thing to say that we understand the advantages of diversity, and it is another to assume its privileges.

Looking beyond mild setbacks that come from differences and projecting into the benefits of diversity through unity requires deep enlightenment, even though its course is natural as already explained. In other words, social diversity can become a political element that could be easily manipulated.

Unmitigated, egocentric political movements tend to have followers precisely because over the matter of race, more often than not, emotion prevails over reason. Suffice is to say that emotions stemmed from weakness and limited understanding could only go so far.

History has shown its negative repercussions over and over again.  And the reason why it happens time and again is not that people have not seen it happen or heard about it, but because they have not learned from the bad incidents.

Unfortunately, Ethiopia’s political environment is becoming the victim of political activists that put to use not the interdependency but the mild differences of Ethiopia’s ethnic groups.  This technique does not require any deep meditations or brilliantly unorthodox strategy. It only requires cheap politicians with a poor establishment. Still, their negative effect will bring unbearable consequences if the people of Ethiopia start to segregate based on their unfounded teachings.

On the contrary, Ethiopia needs activist that celebrate and cultivate diversity for unity and strength come through it. It is even better if some Ethiopians come up with transformative working paradigms; however, until those are successfully practiced, it is important to effectively stand against models that will lead us to destructions.

We ought to reflect every day on how our diversity, as beautiful as it is, could be used to our socioeconomic advantages. Also, social activists should be measured by how well their constructive criticisms fast forward collective development. The conception of preaching hate to make one’s political career through a particular ethnic group is self-destructive. As James Baldwin once said, “Hatred, which could destroy so much, never failed to destroy the man who hated and this was an immutable law.”

True, we may have our differences as individuals and members of different political parties. Regardless, we are one. We should give to each other the benefit of the doubt that what we all do will ultimately benefit Ethiopia. Our differences should be used to sharpen our effectiveness to overcome poverty and backwardness. Not the other way around.

The spirit of upholding uniformity leads to fighting enmity with enmity. However, Ethiopia is all about diversity, and with it comes unity that accommodates differences.  When the differences are accepted in good will, hate politics will have less and less room, and will eventually subside.

Finally, I would like to say that it is not only enough to be cognizant of the fact that Diversity has a deep-rooted strength and good will in and by itself; and that it is more organic, progressive and tolerant in its healthy state. As people who are fully aware of its advantages, we must thrive to fully live it, too.

God bless Ethiopia!


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