(re-posted with permission from http://www.cloistral.net) –
At The Point (the All Souls Humanist service), Reverend Barbara Prose delivered herself of a powerful talk on how differences separate us from each other. Though we may become entrenched in our differences, we can still open ourselves to the fundamental love that is there to bind us all. Differences can create opportunities by bursting our bubbles of conformity, freeing us to see broader points of view.
In his 1962 review of Le Misanthrope, Kenneth Tynan, the British theatre critic, said:
How far should one accept the rules of the society in which one lives? To put it another way: at what point does conformity become corruption? Only by answering such questions does the conscience truly define itself.
Dull conformity separates us into birds of a feather who flock together. Conformity nurtures groupthink, often resulting in irrational or dysfunctional decision making and the active suppression of dissenting viewpoints that isolates the group from outside influences. At its worse, conformity can lead people to war and other corrupt acts, which is why it is important to consider opposite points of view in an effort to avoid subverting our moral sense of right and wrong.
All Souls Unitarian Church is a socially diverse community of independently minded persons from dissimilar backgrounds. I’ve mentioned before that biodiversity is the sign of a healthy ecosystem and, similarly, social diversity makes for a healthy community. To expand our horizons we need the stimulation, checks, and balances provided by our partners in community who disagree with us. The very last thing we need is to be told what we want to hear. Living with social diversity can be bruising to the ego yet good for the soul.