"It may not be too much to claim that the future of our world will depend on how we deal with identity and difference," wrote Miroslav Volf, a Croatian Protestant theologian. The value of diversity has been confirmed by science, is evident in religious creation stories, and is proven to be true in the everyday life of communities and religious groups. Indeed, our strength derives from the degree to which we can accept diversity.
Here are some quotations supporting this point of view. We hope they are helpful to our website visitors who are preaching, teaching, and conversing about this crucial value for our times.
- "Diversity may be both the hardest thing to live with and the most dangerous thing to be without."
— William Sloane Coffin in Credo
- "If the story of creation (Gn 1:1-2:4) is anything to go on, God has not only a strong penchant for variety, but also a gloriously inventive imagination. Time and again, we find him calling forth all kinds of new, previously unthought of creations: darkness and light, water and land, the sun, the moon and the stars, sea monsters and swimming things, all sorts of birds, various beasts both wild and tame, man and woman. The scriptures depict God as someone in love with variety; the richness of creation is nothing but a reflection of God's interest in 'all kinds of living things' (Gn 1:24)."
— Dennis Billy in Under the Starry Night
- " 'Differentiation' refers to the diversity, variation, and heterogeneity that we see all around us, highlighting how things differ from one another even within the same class or species. In a word, everything is uniquely different, irrespective of its strength or weakness. No two atoms are identical. This variety is enhanced by an essential newness — what Brian Swimme and Thomas Berry call 'an outrageous bias for the novel' — that characterizes the unfolding of life at every level."
— Diarmuid O'Murchu in Evolutionary Faith
- "In ecosystems the role of diversity is closely connected with the system's network structure. A diverse ecosystem will also be resilient, because it contains many species with overlapping ecological functions that can partially replace one another. When a particular species is destroyed by a severe disturbance so that a link in the network is broken, a diverse community will be able to survive and reorganize itself, because other links in the network can at least partially fulfill the function of the destroyed species. In other words, the more complex the network is, the more complex its pattern of interconnections, the more resilient it will be."
— Richard Louv in The Web of Life
- "At the heart of creativity is diversity. Diversity is at the core of the universe and is its art form. We need to embrace and appreciate the differences in places and people. However, creativity and diversity have not been espoused by the bureaucratic structures of our dominant culture. Schools, governments, and corporations prefer predictable, managed behavior. In the creative process, we surrender and often become astonished at what happens as we revere the diversity of ethos, language, history, and place. As we challenge the conformity that leads to boredom and burnout, the door opens to joy, inspiration, and healing."
— James Conlon in Lyrics for Re-Creation
- "In the exuberance of nature begins our own. And nature is self-evidently exuberant. One pair of poppies, given seven years and the right conditions, will produce 820 thousand million million million descendants. A single pair of spiders over the same time period and under ideal circumstances will give rise to 427 thousand million million more spiders. The fertility and diversity of nature are staggering."
— Kay Redfield Jamison in Exuberance
- "God creates diversity so that everyone has something to talk about with everyone else."
— Juris Rubenis in Finding God in a Tangled World with Maris Subacs, edited and translated by Paul Valliere
- "I think that one of our most important tasks is to convince others that there's nothing to fear in difference; that difference, in fact, is one of the healthiest and most invigorating of human characteristics without which life would become meaningless."
— Adlai Stevenson in A Chosen Faith by John A. Buehrens
- "May I mindfully appreciate
of every being I encounter,
who, like flowers,
brings beauty, variety,
to our world."
— Jean Smith in Now!: The Art of Being Truly Present
- "Human and religious diversity is just as much in need of preservation as biological diversity."
— John Habgood in To Pause at the Threshold by Esther de Waal
- "There is great diversity among human beings. Physically we differ from each other in things such as size, body structure, skin color, and facial features. We also differ from one another mentally, emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually. One of the greatest challenges of a healthy spirituality is learning to tolerate the differences we find in one another and not to view these differences as threats to ourselves. Moreover, a healthy spirituality should lead us to celebrate our differences and to see them as a reflection of God's beneficence and creativity."
— Melannie Svoboda in Traits of a Healthy Spirituality
- " 'Wait, I have something you all must hear. Brothers and sisters, be at peace,' said Jesus. 'Remember: Blessed are the inclusive. In my company there must be a rich diversity. Like God, we must find delight in a variety of opinions, in the richness of different personalities and various approaches to the Way. What we need is not uniformity but unity, love -- always and everywhere. Let us be compassionate with each other as God is compassionate. Let us be like grapes and not like marbles when we come together with conflicting opinions.' "
— Edward Hays in The Gospel of Gabriel
- "The more we let each voice sound forth with its own tone,
The more diverse will be the chant in unison."
— Angelus Silesius in Angelus Silesius translated by Maria Shrady
- "Woe unto the world when everyone is of the same religious opinion and takes to the same path. Then all religions and all thought will be destroyed. Variety is the very soul of life. When it dies out entirely, creation will die. When this variation in thought is kept up, we must exist; and we need not quarrel because of that variety. Your way is very good for you but not for me. My way is good for me but not for you."
— Swami Vivekananda in Selections from the Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna by Kendra Crossen Burroughs
- "Pluralism is the position that all the religions together have equal value and an equal claim on the truth. Pluralism, I believe, is the key to transforming the religions from cultures of isolation and centers of potential conflict to dynamic communities that can work together."
— Wayne Teasdale in A Monk in the World
- "Every person possesses one valuable trait that cannot be found in any other."
— Rabbi Pinchas of Koretz in Hasidic Wisdom by Simcha Raz, translated by Dov Peretz Elkins and Jonathan Elkins
- "Every valley has a different language, and every teacher has a different Dharma."
— Tibetan Saying in One Dharma by Joseph Goldstein
- "At the end of our service in our Zen center, we chant, 'Unceasing change turns the wheel of life and so reality is shown in all its many forms.' "
— Diane Eshin Rizzeto in Waking Up to What You Do
- "It's very important to appreciate life in all its different manifestations, in all its manyness. People who focus too much on the oneness of life without seeing its diversity will sometimes establish a single standard for what is human. When we vow to be diversity we vow to work with all forms of life. We work with them by becoming them, by seeing their point of view and looking at life through their individual perspective. No matter who we work with, it's impossible to be an effective peacemaker without taking differences into account."
— Bernie Glassman in Bearing Witness
- "Differences were meant by God not to divide but to enrich."
— J. H. Oldham in Thank You for Being Such a Pain by Mark I. Rosen