Year of Living the Community: Week 23

DIVERSITY: A NECESSARY CONDITION

Yolngu dancers at the opening at the South Australian Museum of Yidaki: Didjeridu and the Sound of Australia. Observations welcome...there's a lot going on in this photo! 

It’s a busy time in Adelaide, home of CCP HQ. March is festival season – the Adelaide Festival of the Arts complete with Fringe, WOMAdelaide music festival, Writers Week, and a car race…

The mixtures of people strolling the pedestrian mall in the CBD is more interesting than usual and more ‘clumped’ – you can tell which clusters of people are going to what events based on what they wear and carry and talk about and have on their heads (ball caps for the racers and boaters for the readers).

Last night in the midst of all this was the opening at the South Australian Museum of Yidaki: Didjeridu and the Sound of Australia. This exhibit about the iconic instrument that ‘speaks of the landscapes and cultures of Australia and its First People’ opened with a celebration featuring dancers from the Yolngu people of Arnhem Land in Northern Australia. Their dances are intense and abrupt and tell very specific stories of places and all that live within them. Watching these dancers embody their singular stories – a tiny island of aboriginal people performing in the midst of a sea of mostly non-aboriginal people – the world expands and contracts simultaneously: expands to its diverse and varied gloriousness and contracts to a relentless drive towards global monoculturalism that seems to have the world in its grip.

Diversity is no longer something that we tolerate. It is something that we esteem as a necessary condition for a liveable universe.
— Thomas Berry

Diversity is one of the creative forces of life on Earth. Choosing diversity is a cosmic commitment – empowering for people whose cultures are in danger of being subsumed or overwhelmed by dominant cultures and liberating for people of dominant cultures as they let go of the centrality of their own position.