Many times I am asked about how we became so diverse at Mosaic. People seem so intrigued by the fact we have 80 different nationalities along with diversity generationally and socio-economically. One of the issues I was always like to point out is that creating and living within a diverse community is challenging. Reaching, befriending, and connecting with others is incredibly worth the challenge and the effort, but there is a downside to diversity.
According to the article “Downside of Diversity” in the Boston Globe: “The greater the diversity in a community, the fewer people vote and the less they volunteer, the less they give to charity and work on community projects. In the most diverse communities, neighbors trust one another about half as much as they do in the most homogenous settings. The study, the largest ever on civic engagement in America, found that virtually all measures of civic health are lower in more diverse settings.”
If we have any doubt of the struggle towards diversifying our lives, just notice the increase in hate crime all around us (8% increase in 2006). Just as our cities and states become more diverse (whether we want them to or not), people choose to become more isolated, more nationalistic, and more anti-others-who-are-different.
Ultimately, the study as reported from the Boston Globe goes on to mention the long-term benefits of a more diverse society and that we can speed up the process with “meaningful interaction across ethnic lines.”
Once again, the time-tested and yet most difficult solution to our relational challenges sounds like developing friendships with others who are different than us.