The text for today’s blog post is brought to you by BYU Speeches, specifically, “Weightier Matters“, by Dallin H. Oaks (does anyone here know if speeches are quoted, underlined, or italicized?).
In part of his talk, Elder Oaks discusses diversity in terms of means vs. ends. Specifically, he says,
“Since diversity is a condition, a method, or a short-term objective — not an ultimate goal — whenever diversity is urged it is appropriate to ask, “What kind of diversity?” or “Diversity in what circumstance or condition?” or “Diversity in furtherance of what goal?” This is especially important in our policy debates, which should be conducted…in terms of the goals we seek and the methods or shorter-term objectives that will achieve them. Diversity for its own sake is meaningless and can clearly be shown to lead to unacceptable results.
My question is, does it make sense to talk about diversity in terms of ends and means? The church’s goal is to present the gospel message to every inhabitant of the world. In that light, it seems to me that diversity is neither an ends nor a means, but just a fact that needs to be accepted. If our goal is to reach out to all our brothers and sisters in the world, then diversity is necessarily part of that goal. We desire diversity, if not for its own sake, then for the sake of humanity, who happen to be diverse, and if responding to diversity is not part of the vision, then we are blocking our own efforts.
Elder Oaks goes on to clarify his views on diversity with some very constructive quotes from Pres. Hinckley:
I remember when President J. Reuben Clark, Jr., as a counselor in the First Presidency, would stand at this pulpit and plead for unity among the priesthood. I think he was not asking that we give up our individual personalities and become as robots cast from a single mold. I am confident he was not asking that we cease to think, to meditate, to ponder as individuals.
Each of us is an individual. Each of us is different. There must be respect for those differences. . . .
. . . We must work harder to build mutual respect, an attitude of forbearance, with tolerance one for another regardless of the doctrines and philosophies which we may espouse. Concerning these you and I may disagree. But we can do so with respect and civility.
An article of the faith to which I subscribe states: “We claim the privilege of worshipping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may” (Article of Faith 11). I hope to find myself always on the side of those defending this position. Our strength lies in our freedom to choose. There is strength even in our very diversity. But there is greater strength in the God-given mandate to each of us to work for the uplift and blessing of all His sons and daughters, regardless of their ethnic or national origin or other differences.
To me, these powerful statements clarify that diversity is (a) discussed, and (b) valued by our church leaders. They appreciate that it needs to be approached with respect and wisdom.