By David Hegg
I have often thought, in moments of great frustration, that the world would be a whole lot better if God went ahead and made everyone just like me. After all, I find myself to be right most of the time, and we’d all be in better shape if you all just recognized it and agreed!
Of course, my tongue is firmly planted in my cheek. At least I am trying to put it there. At times we all selfishly wish people would just understand us because if they did, they’d agree, right? But when we are being reasonable, we all know that diversity is God’s idea, and we’re all better off living in a community that represents the best in human personality and intellect.
Think about what society would be like if everyone were like me, or you. It doesn’t take long to realize that we need what we may not at first appreciate. If all were athletes, where would the great poetry and breakthrough scientific discoveries come from? And if all were artists, who would build the bridges, fix the plumbing, or expand the gourmet world?
And what about diversity in personality? Would you want to live in a world where everyone was an extroverted Type A? or have an organization comprised only of introverted cubicle dwellers?
I started thinking about this while taking some time to read something completely out of my usual field of study. Susan Cain’s book “Quiet” explores the needed power of those of us who are introverts. We’re the ones who just wish everyone would stop talking for a minute so we can hear ourselves think.
But beyond the validation she gives those of us who prefer intimate conversation to rollicking parties, the book addresses the need every society has for all kinds of talents, personalities and abilities.
The problem is that we all look at life through our own lens, our own values, our own experiences. The result is that we often begin to think that our lens is the only clear one, our values the only relevant ones, and our own experiences the only valid ones.
The older I get the more I realize that God has been working in wonderful ways through people who are different than me, through personalities that enjoy what I dislike, and through the life experiences and lessons that others have learned in ways I never dreamed of.
With Thanksgiving just around the calendar corner, perhaps it is time to take a deep breath and recognize that different sensitivities, different personalities and different abilities are absolutely necessary if we are to grow better, and together, as families, churches and as a nation.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that truth can now be jettisoned in favor of unity. What it does mean is that diversity can actually help us recognize and hold fast to the truth together, seeing all of its many facets, uses and ramifications. The fact is we’re all better when we’re all better.
And if we’re all going to get better, we have to travel the road in unity, understanding that our diversity is what makes the journey as enjoyable as God meant it to be.
Local resident David Hegg is senior pastor of Grace Baptist Church. “Ethically Speaking” appears Sundays.