Post hoc ergo propter hoc.

Latin for "after this, therefore because of this," post hoc ergo propter hoc is the logical fallacy of false correlation. One thing is not always the cause of or linked to the other.

In this day and age, it seems that if one disagrees with the actions or lifestyle of a person or group, one is labeled as uneducated, old fashioned, closed-minded or even discriminatory.

Everywhere I turn, I see some form of mass media proclaiming that we should become more diverse and inclusive to other ways of life. UT even has an entire section of the website dedicated to diversity. The "Civility and Community" campaign is a major theme around campus.

While inherently this is a good idea, there's something about this that bothers me.

Why does it seem that becoming more open to different ways of life means the devaluing of traditional ways of life?
Is it right for us to devalue one way of life in order to accept another? No. Being truly diverse means accepting all ways of life, not playing preference to one way over another.

There are bad apples in every barrel; people who make the group they are associated with look horrible. But we can't base our opinions of entire groups on the actions a small portion of a particular group.

It is also important to remember that there is a difference between disagreeing with the opinions or actions of others and discriminating against them. For example, my neighbor disagrees with my refusal to read the Harry Potter books since I've seen the movies, but that doesn't mean we hate each other or don't respect each other's opinions. On the contrary, she's one of my closest friends. It also doesn't mean that because I haven't read the Harry Potter books I'm an uneducated person or that I've lived under a rock my entire life. I simply choose not to read them because that's not the type of literature I'm interested in.

Of course, the debate (or lack thereof, so I am told) over whether the Harry Potter books are better than the movies is obviously a far less serious issue than diversity, inclusion and discrimination, but the same principle still holds true.

Disagreeing with someone does not make one close-minded, uneducated or uninformed. It doesn't mean that one person is better than the other. Different people have different opinions. We can respect each others' opinions without compromising our own. We can agree to disagree and still work together in society.

If people are going to preach diversity, inclusion and acceptance, it should be done so in a way that doesn't devalue other ways of life. We can become more inclusive and accepting without devaluing one-way of life, or giving preference to one over another.

The answer to all of this isn't an easy one. But I do believe that the solution to being more accepting towards others and being inclusive is simpler than we think. To quote Dr. Seuss, "sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple."

Treat others the way you want others to treat you.

Problem solved.

— Samantha Smoak is a sophomore in communication studies. She can be reached at ssmoak@utk.edu.