Marching in Step with the Diversity Brigade
March 15, 2008
I work for a very liberal organization. It’s big on “diversity.” However, it has a very limited understanding of the word. In terms of employees, it is big on accepting people who wear different skin colors, who sneak into different churches, and who even have different preferences on whom to go to bed with, as long as they all respectfully conform to the same hierarchical, bureaucratic style of behavior.
As I once wrote on my old blog, in high school #6 of six I attended, I had a black girl friend (really just a buddy, but everyone thought we were a romantic couple).
Later, my wife and I moved to be closer to my job location (a very multi-racial high school). We rented a house right behind the high school. Every face on our block was black except my daughter’s, my wife’s, and mine. We felt a little awkward, but not much. We didn’t think about it that much after the first month we were there.
For a while, I worked next to a gentleman born in Morocco. Y didn’t eat anything during the day during Ramadan, so I knew he was a Moslem. An athletic young fellow, he competed during weekends in “soccer” matches instead of playing in “American football,” games, I guess because he grew up in Morocco, where they kick their footballs instead of running with them.
He was very close-mouthed about his beliefs, though just before he moved to a better job, I became aware that he is really probably a “radical agnostic” or something like that. For one thing, he went out with his co-workers for a drink to celebrate his new job (which pays much better and is much more worthy of his extensive talents). For another thing, we joked about my being of Jewish ancestry and he being of North African Islamic ancestry. As if it mattered to either of us.
Except here (and you are all sworn to silence) I won’t tell on him.
Our closest neighbors on the island are devout Christians. My wife, my daughter, and daughter out of law and I are more or less atheists. We now consider our Christian neighbors close friends. They seem to feel the same way about us.
RG (four-year-old Random Granddaughter) hasn’t told us yet what she is but as long as she is respectful to her two mommies whatever her belief is will probably be fine with me.
If I live long enough, maybe I will talk to her about what I call “meta-values” for lack of a better term. For example, saying “Please” and “Thank you” and only hitting people if they get fresh with you are meta values.
At times I have said stupid and offensive things in the presence of diverse people, though rarely, I think. When I realize I have done so, I say, “That was an offensive thing to say, wasn’t it? I am sorry I said that.”
They have usually said, “Yes, it was.” Then they have usually shrugged. I guess I have been lucky.
My main point is that when it comes to “diversity” and “tolerance,” I have “walked the walk” to a reasonable degree.
In my many jobs, I have never been a “good” employee. I have sometimes been a useful employee. I have sometimes been able to solve problems few if any other people in the company or organization could solve. I have sometimes been able to perform tasks few if any other people in the organization could perform. After they got done thanking me, my bosses are usually chewing me out in their next breath. “Don’t do it again,” they say.
From time to time, I have been in trouble. Next Friday, I have been asked to attend a meeting with my bosses. Although they didn’t say why (because in our bureaucracy, one of the rules is that one never says outright what is actually going on), we all know it is for me to get my reprimand and my plan for “personal improvement.” How much I will improve with less than a year to go to retirement is hard to say, but I guess I better pretend I will grow up quickly in that amount of time.
I am reminded of a joke. A mother was very proud of her son serving in the army. On the day of the big parade, the mother eagerly lined up with the rest of the bystanders along the parade route so she could watch her son march with his unit.
When she got home, her neighbor asked, “How was the parade?”
Mom replied, “It was wonderful. My son looked so handsome marching in his uniform! But his unit needs to practice marching a bit more. Everyone else in his unit was out of step with him.”
[I think his unit is called the “Diversity Brigade” or something like that. I think RG (Random Granddaughter) is planning to enlist in that unit as well, though as she is only four years old, it’s hard to tell, but she shows some precociousness for marching out of step already. It must be genetic.]