Cultural diversity: Create systems which celebrate cultural diversity

Cultural diversity: Create systems which celebrate cultural diversity

Know better, do better. This theme is an apt motto for the complex and dynamic world that we live in. You know increasingly the problems we are facing are being described as wicked problems do their complexity how widespread they are. But think about the future. Twenty five years from now being honest with ourselves we really have no idea what kind of challenges we are going to face. So we really need a diverse set of knowledge to be able to cope with the Wicked problems of today.  The uncertainty of tomorrow the irony though is that in many ways we already do know better. We are just letting so much of that knowledge slip away.

When we talk about ‘vanuatu’ it has the highest levels of cultural diversity per capita of anywhere on the planet for now. Recently a boat left this bay it was carrying an old sick man we can call him david. The seas were rough, was dark and the health clinic was far up the island and unfortunately the boat had left a little too late and the old man was a little too sick and so a few hours later the sound of the motor could be heard coming back across the bay and soon the crying in, the wailing spread across the sand and into the village David had died.

Now those who loved and knew David grieved but of course you didn’t know David and 150,000 people died on this planet so why should we mourn the loss of this one man of David. Well David was one three remaining speakers of an indigenous language and now the two remaining speakers are also old frail men and when they pass away so two of the languages for the children and the grandchildren of these men don’t speak this language.

And what’s amazing about this story to us is that it’s not unique. Collectively today humans speak approximately 7,000 languages but in the lifetime half of these languages will disappear just like David’s is about to and the situation leaves us with three questions that we really need answers to why should we be worried about this loss of cultural diversity. Why is it happening and what should we do about it? Before we answer these questions though let’s keep in mind that cultural diversity is more than just languages and looking at these languages in detail gives us a little glimpse into that.

Now any of you who speak more than one language already have a feel for this because you know that there are certain concepts, certain ideas, certain words that are next to impossible to accurately translate from one language to another. We absolutely need to be worried about the loss of cultural diversity. We need to respect and uphold the rights of indigenous people. We need to recognise the value that cultural diversity has for all of humanity but to face this challenge we must also realise how unevenly power is spread across our societies and we must take these examples.

We must begin to create systems which celebrate cultural diversity which explore our differences.  Which embrace multiple ways of thinking and if we can do that we will be better prepared for tomorrow. But if we don’t do that now, if we don’t do that and our grandchildren are going to grow up in a World that is far less diverse.  They won’t even know it. No better do better thank you.

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