The ongoing conflict between Russia and Georgia is providing some interesting lessons in the Challenge Dividend. A few weeks ago I wrote how Russia's aggression led to a 50% drop in its stock market (even before the recent worldwide drop), meaning that world investors were effectively challenging unruly military action.
Over the weekend I read an interesting editorial in The Moscow Times (via The Week). Boris Kagarlitsky opines that countries without ethnic diversity whip up unchecked nationalistic frenzy. He compares the heated discussion in Russia, "one of the most diverse countries in the world," against that of Georgia, where there is no diversity of ethnicity nor opinion. He also compares tension between Armenia (single ethnicity, no debate) to Turkey (diverse, much debate), and between Palestine (single ethnicity, no debate) and Israel (diverse, much debate).
I agree with Kagarlitsky that this presents yet another example of how diversity drives debate. Debate is a form of challenge to thought, and challenge leads to improvement. In one of my first blog posts over two years ago I wrote about the importance of women's equal rights and status around the world as a key ingredient in the improvement of nations. Those that supress women, like many states in the Middle East, face another obstacle to advancement when half their citizens have little voice.
The challenge of multiple, dissenting voices drives improvement by helping to ensure that groups and nations do not make poor decisions. By bringing mulitple perspectives a better path can come to light. This is a lesson we can take back to our schools, our offices, and our national politics.