Work with Unity in Diversity LO30835

Date: 12/03/03

Replying to LO30828 --

At de Lange writes:

> By this change i want to
> focus on what is necessary to let "Work with Unity in Diversity"
> succeed. "Organizational Learning" is one condition. But is it the
> only condition to take heed to? I do not think so.

Dear At,

You ask a very interesting question. It is one I spent quite some
time pondering before writing a chapter on Diversity for a book on
21st Century Leadership (it was published in South Africa but minus my
piece)! I used the phrase "Being Different Together" as the title.
And, it was borrowed from Harlan Cleveland's series of lectures to UN
University in 1997 (when he was 79 years old!).

This is what he had to say on your questions:


     Cultural diversity is, however, on collision course with two
other values on which the 21st Century will have to be built.
     One is the outward "push" of modern information science and
information technology, which makes it possible to think of the world
as one - as a global market for things and services and information
and money, as an integrated biosphere to be monitored and protected,
as a global community in which nuclear war is impermissible and no
child should go to bed hungry. Yet fierce loyalties to narrower
cultural communities - bonded by ethnicity, religion, or ideology -
are colliding everywhere with the liberating cultures of
     The other collision that may write much of the history of the
21st Century is between the group-oriented philosophies of ambitious
cultural, racial, and religious communities, and the contrasting idea
of human rights, individual and inalianable - the view that a person
has rights not because he or she is part of a nation, a class, a race,
a gender, an ethnic category, a language group, or even a family, but
simply by virtue of having been born a singular person into a human
     So, while celebrating cultural human diversity and the political
change it's bringing about on five continents and countless islands,
we need to think hard about reconciling it with both individual human
rights and global human opportunities.
     There is no easy answer here, but it's primordial question for
this time in our lives.
     What's unique cannot be universal. What's universal threatens,
and is threatened, by what's unique. "It's puzzlement," as the King
says in the musical comedy The King and I. But it's no more puzzling,
surely, than some of our favorite paradoxical slogans. "Unity in
Diversity," "Think Globally, Act Locally," and "e pluribus unum"
(out of many, one) all require us to hold two or more contradictory
propositions in our minds at the same time. The capacity to do that,
I seem to recall, was Sigmund Freud's definition of maturity.

Cleveland, Harlan "Leadership and the Information Revolution",
World Academy of Art and Science (in collaboration with
International Leadership Academy of the United Nations
University), Minneapolis, 1997, 73pp)

I look forward to a lively conversation


Lilly Evans ( Strategic Learning Web "Tomorrow's Leaders Today" Virginia Water, Surrey UK

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