And for those who do not – everyone makes up the numbers on diversity.
Lewis Hyde writes about politicians betraying the people:
‘In times like these the spirit of the polis must be removed from the hands of politicians and survive in the resilient imagination.’*
Strictly speaking, polis is about shaping of the city for everyone who lives in it. We now live in a global city.
The diverse city was observed with delight by Walt Whitman in the nineteenth century. On an omnibus ride through New York he took in all the sights, people from around the world and all their activity, the buildings, and the trade which had furnished them:
“You will not wonder how much expectation all this is, on a fine day, to a great loafer like me, who enjoys so much seeing the busy world move by him, & exhibiting itself for his amusement, while he takes it easy & just looks on & observes.”**
Whitman’s description of himself as a loafer here catches my attention. He reminds me of the flaneur or flaneuse: someone who does not quickly move through life and thereby misses things. Neither do they make up their mind about something or someone hastily or lazily. Instead, they take their time to remain open for as long as they can to as much as they can and towards as many as they can.
Such a person sees the importance and uniqueness of the one as well as the needs of the many. Richard Rohr puts this well when he identifies the relationship of holons and fractals:
‘In these discoveries, we know that the part contains the whole or replicates the whole, and yet each part still has a wholeness within itself – the “appreciative accumulation” is what makes the whole Whole.’^
If we betray the one, we betray the many; and, if we betray the many we betray the one.