by MW Cook

Diversity of culture and opinion is like genetic diversity in a population. Without it, people become stagnant and get all sorts of nasty, cancerous ideas.

Without diversity, a population has very few new and innovative ideas. Generally they just continually repackage old ideas, try to put newish labels on them, and pass them around to each other. This is why those fundamentalist religious groups always seem to be two or three decades behind the rest of the population their in. Because those kinds of places don’t mix well with people who think and act differently than they do. And the more closed-minded the religious group, the further back in time they seem to be. Walk into your local Gospel Hall if you don’t believe me. You’ll feel like you’re in 19th century Scotland. Cool singing, but pretty messed up ideas about gender roles, science and how to live life.

That’s one of the reasons I love where I’m living now. I used to live in Thorncliffe Park, a predominately Islamic area. A place where everyone kinda dressed and acted and thought the same. A place where there was not much in the way of new, ricky ideas. A place where most people did what they did so that everyone else would approve of them.

But when the population is diverse, people feel empowered to try new things. SInce everyone is so obviously unique and living life the way they think it should be lived, there is not much pressure to conform to a pre-established pattern. You’re free to live life according to your own conscience, instead of the conscience of some dead role model or abstract system.

And whose conscience should you be living according to anyway, if not your own?

I’ve lived in Toronto for almost four years. But only now am I beginning to see how wildly awesome this town is.

So here’s to diversity. I hope and pray we get butt-loads more of it and that it spreads to all those neat places where it hasn’t been welcomed before. It may be uncomfortable for a lot of people, but without it we become cultural inbreds. Slow to accept change and ill-equipped to deal with real life.