In Praise of Diversity

Since the ingenious earth began
To shape itself from fire and rubble;
Since God invented man, and man
At once, invented trouble,
One virtue, one subversive grace,
Has chiefly vexed the human race.

One whimsical beatitude,
Concocted for his gain and glory,
Has man most stoutly misconstrued
Of all the primal category --
Counting not a blessing, but a flaw,
That difference is the mortal law.

Adam, perhaps, while toiling late,
With life a book still strange to read in,
Saw his new world, how variegate,
And mourned, "It was not so in Eden."
Thereby, confusing from beginning
Un-likeness with original sinning.

And still the sons of Adam's clay
Labor in person or by proxy
At altering to a common way
The planet's holy heterodoxy.
Till now, so dogged is the breed,
Almost, it seems, that they succeed.

One shrill, monotonous, level note
The human orchestra's reduced to.
Man casts his ballot, turns his coat,
Gets born, gets buried, as he used to,
Makes war, makes love -- but with a kind
Of masked and universal mind.

His good has no nuances. He doubts
Or believes with total passion.
Heretics choose for heresy
Whatever's the prevailing fashion.
Those wearing Tolerance for a label
Call other views intolerable.

There's white, there's black; no tint between,
Truth is a plane that was a prism,
All's Blanshard that's not Bishop Sheen,
All's treason that's not patriotism!
Faith, charity, hope -- now all must fit
One pattern...or it's opposite.

Or, so it seems, yet, who would dare
Deny that nature planned it other?
When every freckled thrush can wear
A dapple different from his brother...
When each pale snowflake in the storm
Is false to some imagined norm?

And grateful for the wit to see
Prospects through doors we cannot enter,
Ah!  Then let us praise Diversity,
Which holds the world upon its center.
Praise con amor' or furioso
The large, the little and the soso.

Rejoice that under cloud and star,
The planet's more than Maine or Texas!
Bless the delightful fact there are
Twelve months, nine muses and two sexes;
And infinite in earth's dominions
Arts and climates and opinions.

Praise ice and ember, sand and rock,
Tiger and dove and ends and sources;
Space travelers and who only walk,
Like mailmen, round familiar courses;
Praise vintage grapes and tavern Grappas,
And bankers and Phi Beta Kappas.

Each in its moment justified,
Praise knowledge, theory, second guesses;
That which must wither or abide;
Prim men, and men like wildernesses;
And men of peace and men of mayhem,
And pipers and the ones who pay'em.

Praise the disheveled, praise the sleek;
Austerity and hearts-and-flowers;
People who turn the other cheek;
Those with laughter, those with sorrows;
Saints we name a holy day for,
And infidels the saints can pray for.

Praise youth for pulling things apart,
Toppling idols, breaking leases;
Then, from the upset apple-cart,
Praise oldsters picking up the pieces;
Praise wisdom, hard to be a friend to,
And folly one can consescend to.

Praise what conforms and what is odd,
Remembering, if the weather worsens
Along the way, that even God
Is said to be three separate Persons.
Then upright or upon the knee,
Praise Him, that by His courtesy,
For all our prejudice and pain,
Diverse His creatures still remain!

-- Phyllis McGinley

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