I’m struck by how closely the words “diversity” and “divisive” resemble each other. But, in point-of-fact, they are radically different. “Diversity” conjures up positive images of things that are different, while at the same time being complementary. Take, for example, Longwood Gardens. Every time we go there, I am struck by the diversity of flora and fauna which grace its grounds.
It’s especially evident this time of year when the gardens are a veritable riot of color, shape, and size. The little plants of spring have developed into something completely out of control! Left to their own devices, they have become mature plants which seem to reach out and grab you—the stuff of wild dreams! I’m sure this is what the Garden of Eden must have resembled when Adam and Eve tended it. God created the garden “good,” a place of harmony and peace which the “first couple” couldn’t fully appreciate.
The word “divisive,” on-the-other hand, tends to connote dis-ease, unsettledness, and conflict. The actions of the “first couple” were divisive, thereby throwing the garden into disarray—the state in which it remains to this very day. As I look around, it seems to me that we’ve come to relish divisiveness. We experience it in our public life, in our religious life, in our work life, in our family life. In a divisive world, diversity is something to be shunned, not celebrated. We’ve become fiercely “tribal” and we’re proud of it. The “other” in our midst has become someone to be feared and avoided lest our values are compromised.
I believe divisiveness is antithetical to the God’s good inten-tions for God’s good world. God created a world rich in diversity, rich in variety. Homo sapiens, above all other species, should have the capacity to create societies in which every member is granted a place at the table, where every member is valued, and where diversity is encouraged not discouraged. Christian community, especially, should exhibit the love and fearless determination to overcome the tribal instincts which seem to be infecting our society. It is love, after all, not fear which binds us together. God’s word to God’s world remains, “Fear Not!” May it always be so.
From Pastor Kent’s Desk
Grace & Peace, Kent