The End of Binary Faith

2011-04-13 09.47.57

Binary Faith is a faith in opposites.

It is the faith of the modern world in labels. Labels serve to identify who we are and more importantly who we are not.

It is what election campaigns are about.

It is what modern religion and anti-religion are about.

It is about our modern consumer choices.

It is about moral debates, advocacy, outrage and campaigns for righteousness.

Binary faith is based on creating a world of perception in distinctly defined terms of good and evil.

We are all Suckers

In the end we are all suckers. We suck because we believe the labels represent reality. We want to believe, need to believe, and so we believe. And we get sucked into a binary faith that divides the world into good guys and bad, where we are always on the side of good.

We believe in the campaign ads, and the opinion pundits, and the advertising and even our family members and neighbors.

We believe, not because they are right, but because we want to believe that they are right. We want to believe because we don't know what to believe. So, we end up believing just about anything that relieves us of the conflict of having to choose good over evil.

We choose sides because we have never learned how to stand on our own. We let others do our thinking for us. As a result, we never figure out just how manipulated we have become in the modern world of binary choices.

You can tell when people have been hooked by binary faith. Their language is filled with talking points. Simplistic statements that are intended to clarify, set apart, and remove all doubt as to the veracity and validity of their individual faith in this person, ideology, product or group. They are not statements that open up conversation, but are rather closing statements to a case that can only be made by saying, "I'm not like them!"

They laugh, cheer and celebrate when the other side is caught in some humiliating turn of phrase.  Sarcasm and condescension is the core manifestation of the binary trap we find ourselves in. We laugh along with those posing as superior intelligent beings, wanting to be like them. In reality, we show ourselves to be weak, pathetic, ill-prepared to deal with a world that is not binary. It is the basis of both comedy and political commentary today. It is shallow and non-intellectual, condescending to the listeners and demeaning to those who are the subject of derision. 

These people, often quite intelligent, with advanced degrees from prestigious institutions, have stopped thinking, and have become automatons. Automatomic thinking is thinking that occurs in a closed system of self-verifying statements, hermetically sealed off from any real, rational debate about what or who is good or evil. It is built upon the need for confirmation basis to validate one's own superior opinion.

With these closed cultures of opinion, no outliers are permitted. No real questions are allowed. Only those questions that prove the superiority of their group's position over against the inferiority of their binary opposite.

For all the connection between people the internet has brought to our world, it has not solved the problem of binary faith. In fact, it has accelerating its advance as it is easier to find and exclude people who either share or reject one’s faith.

I use the language of faith because in many respects this is the religion of the modern age. Binary faith is a belief system that provides meaning within a cult-like social structure. It is cult-like because for true believers, it is a faith that excludes the heretic and unbeliever.

For faith seekers, binary faith provides a basis for identity and acceptance into a community of faith whose demands are simple. Just believe and never doubt. Total compliance, no questions asked and inclusion is ours.

Modern Day Good and Evil

The supreme problem with binary faith is its inability to be honest about the real world. Binary faith is an answer to a dualistic abstraction of what is good and evil. “We are good; they are evil.” Simple faith for complex times.

The reality is that each person, culture, ideology, nation-state, religion, and political movement is a rich mixture of good and evil. Behind every evil act is some value which has been twisted for evil ends.

There is no way to absolutely separate good and evil as totally distinct entities. They live like kudzu vines intertwined around a forest of trees. Virtually impossible to eradicate the parasitic vines without killing the host.

So it is with the world as it exists. To rid the world of evil requires us to separate it out from that which is good, and then eradicate it. However, this takes us back the old binary trap of only two choices, choose the good or the evil.

But life isn’t so simple. It is much more complex, and the complexity requires us to be alert, reflective and aware of what is present before us.

The problem is that binary faith doesn’t want that. Good and evil are situational choices we make every day. We create good lives by making good choices, and evil by bad choices. It seems like a simple binary choice, but it is not. They are choices of degree and intention, choices of how my personal preferences affect the lives of others, measured in degrees of change and significance of impact.

To make good choices we need three things.

First, we need a community that is open and hospitable to people outside our faith.

The best description of this sort of community that I have found comes from the ancient Christian writer Paul, who in a letter to a church in the Greek community of Corinth that is caught up in its own binary trap. He used the metaphor of the body to describe the kind of faith community this church should exhibit. The metaphor follows a understandable line of thought of contrasting various body parts to show how each is essential to the function of the body. He may be writing about a specific church, but it applies to every faith system, regardless of type. Near the end of this metaphorical reflection, he writes this words.

“On the contrary, the members of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and those members of the body that we think less honorable we clothe with greater honor, and our less respectable members are treated with greater respect; whereas our more respectable members do not need this. But God has so arranged the body, giving the greater honor to the inferior member, that there may be no dissension within the body, but the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it.” (1 Corinthians 12:22-26)

In a binary faith, we individually determine who is the weaker, the less honorable, the least respectable person in society. These are the people we reject because they represent the other side, or those we feel that must be protected because they are unable to think for themselves and stand on their own.

The result is a faith where suffering is not shared, and honor offered only to those who are most the single-minded and fanatical in their belief. 

Good and evil aren’t binary forces. They are complex choices that either create the kind of community Paul illustrates or destroys it. Communities that are not based on demonizing the other are places where one may discover, in one’s self, how to deal with the tension between the forces of good and evil that are within each one of us, and then learn to create goodness in ways that build alignments between opposites.

Second, we need a clearly defined value system.

This value system cannot be binary, but universal and holistic. It must be able to state what is the good for all humanity. It cannot simply be a belief that divides the world into two classes, good vs. evil. Or a system that is simply self-serving.  Many universal, trans-cultural values may require my own self-sacrifice to be fully realized. This is antithetical to a binary faith.

Imagine a political faith or a commercial faith where these values are prominent.

Third, we each need to be persons of character.

This means to live a whole life, not some perception of life based on our political and consumer choices that we've been suckered into. For our identity to be based on who we are, how we relate to others, and how we live our lives each day requires us to not divide the world into good and evil, haves and have-nots, in and out, weak or strong, honorable or dishonorable, acceptable or rejected.

Character comes from daily making choices that elevate the world we live in rather than destroying it through division. These choices are informed by learning to think for ourselves, listening to others and deciding a path in life that leads to being the person that our values say we wish to be. For this to happen, we need to be clear about what we believe and have a community of people who are willing to share in the suffering of people. As a result, it will be a community that also celebrates and honors each person in their advancement in the character of their living.

I realize that this may sound like I'm advocating a kind relativism that is at the heart of the modern notion of tolerance. I am not. I find tolerance, as presently practiced, a condescending mask towards the other, and a faith unable to address genuine issues of good and evil.

I don't believe all people are essentially good or bad. I do believe that some people choose to be evil, violent and destructive, and should be understood in this way. I believe that good resides in each person, yet at war with those inclinations toward evil that fills our world with hatred and arrogance.

I am not saying that all faiths, ideologies and beliefs are the same. I believe that there are a universal set of human values that have always existed that if lived fully would create a better world.  

The End of Binary Faith

The end of binary faith comes in the collapse of faith into no faith and alienation from the connections that bind people together in community. I believe this moment in history is coming. The ideologies and institutions of the modern world are built upon a binary platform. It is not sustainable. What follows is not better.

Our hope is in ourselves to create communities based upon value systems that include all people without dividing them into preferential categories. These communities will thrive or fail on the character of the people in them.

This is part of the future that I see coming. It is not all bleak, but hopeful. It is though because I am convinced that once a person decides to think for themselves, to reject the binary designations of society and create communities of character, then the strength and sustainability of society will grow.

Of course, we must stop being suckers if this is to change. We must stop being manipulated by those who see us as mindless sheep willing to do their bidding.

I am not a utopian. I don't believe that if we are just nice to one another, the world will be a better place. That is a strategy of mindless tolerance of evil that clearly exists in our world.

I am a realist. I see the end of binary faith as a realistic hope for how we might live in peace and harmony in the future.

A Century of Difference

Amazing how much has changed in such a short period of time.

However, I do believe that the principles which people shared, and the way the Circle of Impact can be applied has not changed.

The reality is that our needs for clarity of thought, being present in our relationships, and, genuine leadership are more needed now that ever.



The other day I asked the following question as my Facebook status update.

Just thinking about how different the 21st century is compared to either the 20th or 19th. Working on a post about this. What would you all say is the difference? I'm curious.

It is an important question if we are to effectively lead into the future. Here are some of the ideas shared. (Thanks Jenni, Pat, Richard & F.C.)

The social aspect... communication in a heartbeat

The entirety of the gross data and factual information within the world is within your 1.5lb. laptop.

Less face to face social interaction. Less informal group social interaction. More social interaction at a wire's length.

Too many businesses have forgotten ... being the people business.

19th more face to face ... 20th letters and telegrams ... 21st email, mobile phones and social networks - instant responses, less thought - little or no opportunity to convey intent except by emoticons that have become part of the language. This is a change so significant that I think it's as big as the printing press being developed.

In summary, these friends are seeing changes in technology, relationships and communication. I agree. These are the core differences that are impacting us daily.

If we use my Circle of Impact framework, we can identify others. This is a valuable exercise because it helps us in two ways. First, in seeing the transition over the past two hundred years, and second, to give us an idea of where to put our energy and resources for the future.

Circle of Impact

Using the Circle of Impact to Identify Change

Ideas: The Importance of Clarity.

Today, ideas matter more than ever. In the past, the communities and places of work were fairly homogeneous, not as culturally diverse as today. Now we need to be very clear about our values and purpose, and be able to effectively communicate them in visual and tangible ways.

In the past, we could measure our business by the bottom-line, and have a pretty good idea about whether we were succeeding. Today, if we are not clear about the impact we are creating, the purpose of our businesses / organizations seem vague. Impact is the difference that matters, and distinguishes us from others in the same industry. The core meaning of impact is the change we are seeking to create, and how we know when we have.

Lastly, is having a vision that is clear about what each person brings to the mission of the organization, and by that I mean, understanding what is their potential contribution. Then knowing how it is aligned with the operating structure to produce impact. And thirdly, each member of the organization being able to articulate that vision from their own place within the organization. Same vision, different expressions of it.

Relationships: The Importance of Being Present

Today, the person who is prejudiced, condescending and exclusive toward people and other cultures is viewed as backward, narrow and insecure. Openness and welcome are important behaviors that leaders and their organizations need to exhibit.

This mindset, so to speak, is really just an entry level attitude toward relationships. At the core, what made for a healthy relationship two hundred years ago, does so today. A year ago in a post, Honor and the Lost Art of Diplomancy, I wrote,

Diplomacy is the practice of respect applied in places of diverse cultures. It is the ability of one person to be able to empathize with another person, even though their cultural, ethnic and philosophical backgrounds are not similar. ...

This type of respect is a form of humility that places the dignity of the other person ahead of one's own perogatives. It is what I see missing in much of the social and civic interaction that takes place in our society.

This aspect of relationships has always been true. The difference today is that it has to be treated as one of the strategic initiatives of the business. How the business relates to the person and the culture will have a huge impact upon how well they do.

In addition, the importance of respect, honor, dignity, and trust are now functioning within a social environment where technology mediates our relationships more and more. This is one of the most significant changes of the past two hundred years. And as one of my Facebook friends noted,

... instant responses, less thought - little or no opportunity to convey intent except by emoticons that have become part of the language. This is a change so significant that I think it's as big as the printing press being developed ...

This means that the quality of our relationships is really a matter of the person we are. Our character, integrity and values matter more than ever. They do because with many people we only have a moment to convey the depth of who we are. If we come across as shallow, narcissistic, unempathetic, or distracted, then we may never have a chance to change that impression. 

The impact of all this change in relationships and social context is that we must constantly be present with our best selves, if we hope to build relationships for the long term. To be present means that our first inclination is not to tell our story, but to ask questions to identify their story. When we know who they are and what they value, then, with genuine integrity, we can tell our story. We are able to do this when we truly approach each person with dignity, respect and trust.

Structures: The Importance of Leadership

A major change over the past two hundred years is in how businesses organize themselves. In the past, the industrial model depended upon a standardized, formal structure. Today, the complexity of doing business has placed a greater burden on workers to be problem solvers and initiative takers. The expectation that workers take greater responsibility is changing what it means to be an employee. In effect, this shift is a change in what is leadership.

In the past, leadership was a position, a title which often was personalized into a heroic narrative of the senior executive. Today leadership has become the impact that each person has within the business structure. It depends upon their ability to communicate, problem solve, relate well to others and contribute in ways beyond their job description. In effect, the skills of leadership are now the skills of an entrepreneur, and are needed by everyone within the structure.

With this shift, a company where more and more employees have the capacity to take initiative to lead, the quicker the company will adapt to changing situations with customers and in their industry.

The Difference that Matters

Here are five actions we can take.

1. Be clear about the Four Connecting Ideas of Values, Purpose/Mission, Vision and Impact. Develop an elevator speech for each, so that when the moment arises you have something clear to say.

2. Develop Ideas in Conversation. Identify three to five people with whom you work, and often have lunch, and begin to share your ideas with them. You may want to share this post with them, and see where the conversation goes. The idea is to learn through collaborative reflection.

3. Volunteer with an Organization that Serves People in Need. I have found that working with people who have lived through or are living in hard times gives me perspective on myself. I learn to appreciate what I have and gain the ability to respect those whom I may have not been able to see any value. The resiliency and adaptability of people who are in need provides us a window into our own capacity to change. 

4. Develop a Set of Questions to Ask Everyone You Meet.  What sparks your curiosity? This is how the Circle of Impact was developed. I asked questions of everyone I met. Once the Circle became clear, I began to use this as a framework for my discussions with people. Now it is printed on my business card. Do this is to take initiative because your desire is to make a difference.

5. Go Slowly on Beginning to Take Initiative. Yes, leadership is an initiative taking function. But not all organizations have embraced this idea. In fact, many think that relinquishing control over employee freedom to lead ends with chaos and confusion. It certainly can if there is poor communication and coordination between members of a team or department. Understand, therefore, that leadership in this perspective needs alignment between the three dimensions of leadership - Ideas, Relationships and Structure.

The last thing to say is that while the changes over the past two centuries have been great, the core attitudes and behaviors that make for effective leadership remain the same as always. The primary difference are the changes in the social and organizational contexts that have come through technological innovation and the growth of life and work on a global scale.

Why Communities Fail and Succeed

Yesterday, I had an excellent discussion with Gerry Goertz, the head of leadership programs at the University of North Carolina at Asheville.  UNCA is a small liberal arts university in the UNC system, unique in its mission.  One of its uniquenesses is that it houses Leadership Asheville, a community leadership program that Gerry leads.  We were catching up after not seeing one another for quite a few months.

As I shared with him my Impact Leadership charts, talking in particular about  how leaders and organizations go through transition points, I made the comment to him that I felt that our fair city Asheville is going through one of those transition points.  It has become a very attractive place for people to live, so building is booming, and new people from all over are arriving virtually everyday to our little corner of paradise.  It reminds me of how a decade ago people were talking about Portland, Seattle and the Northwest.  If I remember correctly, there were some who printed up bumper stickers encouraging people not to come because it rained all the time. Asheville is at a similar transition point in its history.  The kind of leadership that is needed today is not that of even five years ago. Things are changing that rapidly. I remain optimistic about not just Asheville but the whole of Western North Carolina as the people who are moving here along with the people who have been here for 200 years love the region and don't want it to develop into a place to be abandoned for the next great place to live.

Gerry shared with me a couple lists he uses with the participants in Leadership Asheville. I thought that they were worth sharing.  One is entitled Why Communities Fail and the other, obviously, Why Communities Suceed/ Seven Pillars of a Healthy Community.  I'm sharing these because I think communities are not just people, but also organizations and social networks.  There is value in leaders spending a little time reflecting of whether their organization is failing or succeeding from this point of view.

Why Communities Fail

1.  Attitude of “been there, done that, won’t work.”

2.  Lack of ample time invested in collaboration and community problem-solving.

3.  Too much process, not enough product.

4.  Too much product, not enough process.

5.  Failure to nurture a vital web of personal relationships among people who can get things done.

6.  Turf-people are afraid to join in, let go, and commit to a process and activities over which they have limited control.

7.  Lack of a fluid, open, accountable structure to bring about change. Too few      stakeholders included in process.

8.  Failure to follow-through-to do assignments, move the project along, achieve incremental steps.

9.  Fault lines of race, gender, age, socio-economic differences that divide the community.

10.  Too much focus on taking or retaining a position and not enough on understanding one another’s interests.

Adapted from:
Smart Communities: How Citizens and Local Leadership Program
Can Use Strategic Thinking to Build a Brighter Future
Suzanne Morse

John Wiley & Sons, 2004

What I read here are not organizational strategies for improvement, but rather characteristics of leadership character.  These factors occur because leaders fail, not because their "communities" fail.  It is like Peter Drucker's adage - "Leaders lead people, not organizations."  So, if your community is failing, then it isn't anything more than the failure of leadership.

Here's the dilemma that you face when these factors begin to emerge as accurate descriptions of your community.  You don't have a problem with a few leaders, you have a culture of leadership that is problematic.  Culture is an environments acceptance of specific standards of behavior. Some communities are aggressive others are more reactive. Some communities are more authoritarian, others more collaborative. Some communities are more entrepreneurial and others are more focused on maintaining the status quo.

Your business or organization can take on the same characteristics.  It is a matter of leadership character, intelligence and organization.

Here's Gerry Goertz's list of community success factors.

Why Communities Succeed - Seven Pillars of a Healthy Community

1.  Practices ongoing dialogue.

2.  Connects people and resources.

3.  Generates leadership.

4.  Knows itself.

5.  Shapes its future.

6.  Embraces diversity.

7.  Creates a sense of community.

According to the Coalition for Healthier Cities and Communities.

I don't disagree with this list, but I think it is built upon old thinking.  Yes, every community needs dialogue, needs leadership, needs to embrace diversity and to create a sense of community. I don't think this enough. In fact, if this is all you are doing, you run the risk of failing.  So, what's missing?

Communities don't exist in isolation. They don't function independent of the people who live there.  The assumption though is that they do.  This leads the people who live within what is designated as "the community" to take on a "we vs. they" mentality.  If is one of the identifiers that your community or organization is at a transition point.  This means that what you have been doing must change in order to move to the next level of performance, however defined.

My various ventures into working with local government groups has shown me that the prevalence of this divisive mentality is not resolved either by an emphasis on programs of dialogue and diversity.  Those programs when treated as generic ends in themselves end up preaching to the choir.  Dialogue works when it is focused on a very specific problem and there is a clear outcome of change that will result.

What I mean here is that if the grassroots level of the community is not practicing this type of leadership then it is difficult for the community to succeed.  The strength of a community isn't at the top. It isn't with the elite leadership or with its political leaders.  The strength and health of a community is determined at the farthest reach from those people. 

This list of success factors doesn't really see this.  It is focused on those community members who are of certain orientation toward service to their community. Spend too much time in that narrow, close-knit circle and you begin to believe that the community's success is dependent upon you. The reality is that successful communities have an entrepreneurial spirit at the grassroots level. People are taking charge of their community's welfare without permission from "higher ups".

So, if I were to translate this list of success factors into an appropriate one for 21st century communities and organizations, I'd write it this way.

1.  The most marginalized member practices ongoing dialogue to build trust.

2.  People are reaching across social, economic, racial, geographical, ideological barriers to exchange ideas and resources. 

3.  An increasing number of people are taking initiative in the areas of personal vision, relationships and organizational development to lead their organizations to strengthen their community.

4.  People and organizations are self-critical about their motivation, values, purpose and culture. 

5.  People and leaders recognize that they can only change what they can control, so their vision for the future is flexible, adaptable and focused on responding to emerging opportunities within a clear defined set of values and standards.

6.  Diversity is embraced for its competitive advantage, not as an end in itself.

7.  People taking personal responsibility for the health of their community builds a sense of community.

These success factors don't stand on their own. Their value is in a synthesis of action that transforms the relationships that people have within their community.  They have to want it if it is to happen. Otherwise, their community will always struggling to keep up with other communities that are learning this lesson.

Diversity and civic life - Putnam's research

Wretchard at The Belmont Club points to a Financial Times article on research conducted by Harvard political scientist Robert Putnam about the effect of diversity on civic life. From the FT article,

A bleak picture of the corrosive effects of ethnic diversity has been revealed in research by Harvard University's Robert Putnam, one of the world's most influential political scientists.

His research shows that the more diverse a community is, the less likely its inhabitants are to trust anyone – from their next-door neighbour to the mayor.

This is a contentious finding in the current climate of concern about the benefits of immigration.

Putnam is known for his research in social capital and civic engagement and for his book Bowling Alone. See also his work through the Saguaro Seminar on Civic Engagement in America and its project and book Better Together.  The FT article suggests that Putnam's research has not yielded an expected optimistic picture of social diversity and multiculturalism.  Putnam has "delayed publishing his research until he could develop proposals to compensate for the negative effects of diversity, saying it "would have been irresponsible to publish without that".

What are we to make of this?  Has the push for diversity and multiculturalism been wrong headed, misguided or based on a faulty premise?  Is a vision for a multicultrual society realistic?  Or, worst is a diversity emphasis just a shallow desire to rid the world of conflict without a clear understanding of human nature and society?  I'm not rejecting the idea of the importance of diversity.  I am criticizing the naive belief that it is an unalloyed benefit to communities.

Putnam's Bowling Alone focused on the diminishment of civic involvement by individuals.  The problem I found with his book was a lack of treatment of those places where people gather institutionally.  People will be engaged civically when their group is.  I've seen this time and again. If the groups fail, then the likelihood of civic engagement will not happen.

A bowling team is not that much different than a work team in a business. It is a set of relationships organized for a specific purpose. Social capital described as the value that a set of relationships brings to a place is not just something that happens in communities. It is also one of the principal economic engines of business.  The connections that people make with other people provide them access to information that contribute to the strength of a business.  (If you want an excellent treatment of social capital as a competitive strategy in business, read Ron Burt's Brokerage and Closure.)

What I don't think Putnam was clear on in Bowling Alone, and would lead to the misapprehension about the social benefits of diversity that his research has now shown him is that people are not primarily individuals.  The atomistic self is what Putnam was challenging in his earlier work.  People are social beings as well.  In fact, I'd make the claim that we are social beings before we are individuals. That our relationships in various social institutional forms, like the family or community, are fundamental in establishing our own individual identities.  Therefore, communities are only as strong as their social institutions.

Yes, I'm saying culture precedes our own individual identities.  If we were to remove the potentially divisive character of ethnic diversity from the communities and seek to create some new cultural identity, as in many respects is being attempted by a cultural of mass consumerism, then we don't end up with a new ethnic culture, but a non-culture.  This is so because cultures are not simply personal preferences that are ubiquitous and changeable. No, they are built on traditions and values that are part of the warp and woof of our ancestral identities that reside in us.

If you have ever been to a Scottish Highland games, you'll see people whose ancestral connection to Scotland are many generations removed, dressed in kilts, tossing the caber because it reconnects them with something hardwired into them as descendents.  The same is true for every ethnic group.

Are the traditions and values of our ancestors a strength or are they an obstacle to a peaceful, prosperous society?  Putnam's research may be showing the latter. But is that a given or is there some room to affect change in this regard?

From where I stand, there are people who believe that ethnic traditions and values are the reason why there is turmoil and strife in the world.  Isn't this the logical explanation behind Islamic terrorism?  Yet, I find this too simplistic.  Because it defies what is self-evident, that these traditions and values, when affirmed, create communities of strength where social capital is a plentiful asset.  Go to any ethnic festival.  The celebration of their history, traditions and values elevates and unites them as a commuity.

Of course, none of this describes why Putnam's research is showing diversity's dark side.  If we look at this from the perspective of Chris Anderson's The Long Tail, we see that diversity's strengths are in the microcosm of multiple ethnic traditions and values, not the macrocosm of a blended culture.  These "preferential attachments" (see Albert-Laszlo Barabasi's Linked) naturally allow for the history and traditions of our ancestors to live in on the how we live today.  I don't have to be Samoan or Puerto Rican to appreciate their values and traditions.  I don't even have to adopt them. However, I can appreciate them.

The conflict in many respects is not really between one ethnic group and another, but a competition for influence and power within the broader community.  When you add into that environment a push to rid ourselves of our cultural baggage so that we can all be alike, then we have a cultural petri dish of potential conflict. Some of this conflict is played out when ethnic neighborhoods crowd in on one another.  Read the comments on Wretchard's post. The person who comments on Pittsburgh is absolutely correct.  Pittsburgh's geography has allowed it to be a great city of ethnic diversity.  As they say fences make good neighbors.  In other words, boundaries to communities just as in relationships serve as a protective structure.

What Putnam should consider is that ethnic groups, all groups, are formed by not just tranditions and values, or relationships by family ancestry or proximity, but also by the institutionalization of these traditions, values and relationships in organizations that carry the banner of our people.  This is why the symbols of nationality, like the flag, are so important to ethnic and national identity.

So, what's the answer?  Teach your children their history and heritage, while teaching them them to respect those who are different from them.  Pride and humilty.  The key to making diversity as social capital asset for communities.