At a recent Faith Angle Forum in France, the British political scientist Matthew Goodwin defined wokeness as a belief system organized around “the sacralization of racial, gender and sexual minorities.” I’d add that right-wing populism is organized around the sacralization of the white working class and the belief that left-wing minority groups have now become the dominant oppressive majority.
Right and left warriors disagree completely about who the dominant majority is, but they agree that “we” are an oppressed minority, that those with power despise “us,” and that the war must be won.
There’s some truth in their diagnoses. There really is a lot of oppression out there. But this mind-set is based on a dangerous falsehood — that the line between good and evil runs between groups, the good over here, the oppressive over there.
Once you accept the truth that the line between good and evil runs through every human heart, then you begin to see not just groups, but also the struggles of diverse individuals within groups. You begin to see that each person, embedded within the richness of a particular culture, is trying to tackle the common human problems — to live a life with dignity and meaning, to have some positive impact on the world.
Integration without assimilation is the only way forward. It is, as the prophet Jeremiah suggested, to transmit the richness of your own cultures while seeking the peace and prosperity of the city to which you have been carried.
It is hard. It means socializing with diverse and sometimes antagonistic groups rather than resting in the one that feels most at home. It means recognizing and embracing the fact that, as an American, you contain multiple identities and cultures. You wear different uniforms and are sometimes not sure which one you ultimately belong to.
But this is the most creative way to live. It’s the clashing of different viewpoints, histories and identities within a single people and even within a single human mind. Integration without assimilation is the nuclear reactor of American dynamism.