Mr. Spock’s IDIC

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[This Commentary originally appeared in the April 13, 1989 issue of The Mendon-Honeoye Falls-Lima Sentinel.]

CarosaCommentaryNewLogo_259IDIC, to paraphrase the Star Trek Concordance (Bjo Trimble, 1976), represents the fundamental Vulcan philosophy of nurturing diversity to produce synergistic good. IDIC – short for Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations – sets Vulcans apart from other species by elevating their demeanor. Essentially, these green blooded people, by the very way they live their lives, demonstrate a courage unique to their race – they not only tolerate diversity, they recognize its advantages and readily seek it out. Spock, in the episode “In Truth There is No Beauty,” explains “diverse things come together to create truth and beauty” and “the glory of creation lies in its infinite diversity and meanings.”

Fine, so what does this mean to the average person, i.e., one who can’t tell the Science Officer of the USS Enterprise from a baby doctor?

The subject this week involves something close to the heart of our populace – diversity. We live in an area of variety. Rarely in such a closely tied community does one see such a marked mixture of lifestyles and experiences. For example, some of our neighbors prefer to view themselves as “gentlemen” or “weekend” farmers, while, to others, the agricultural industry provides for their very sustenance. Another group sees themselves as villagers, eager to know everyone and everything about their home town. Still different people picture their homes as restful havens from the sundries of distant city offices. Among us include those who take on the county for the good of the community, those who challenge the state to benefit our county, those who confront the nation on behalf of our state and those who struggle against a world just to give America a little more of an edge.


No ideal outranks any other, and we really need this assortment of attitudes for healthy growth. Any living organization, like our community, prospers with a diversity of people. Diversity allows us to look at something from a different point of view. When we consider an assortment of notions, maybe, just maybe, we can strike upon a truly innovative solution.

A case in point of which no doubt many of you have some familiarity with: Those annoying little yellow “Post-It” notes which have proliferated over the past few years began life as a 3M R&D failure. Some engineer tried to make a new super glue and ended up with something that barely stuck. With tons of this not-so-super glue in storage, someone from the clerical staff discovered you could use this useless stuff for sticking routing notes on letters. Eventually, the division president received a letter with a note posted on it. He thought the lightly glued note was a great idea and asked where he could buy some for his own use.

The rest, as they say, blossoms as bureaucratic history. 3M probably made a lot of money on the failed adhesive, but only because someone who knew nothing of the original project allowed themselves to discover a new way to use the glue. That’s what diversity gives you.

Synergy behaves like a sort of active form of diversity, generally involving a group of people. The construction industry offers a splendid operational definition of the term. You probably won’t end up with a good house if you only ask a carpenter or a plumber or an electrician to build it. But, if you ask all these professionals to build that portion in which they specialize and together they build your house, you’ll end up with a much better home. Each of these three contractors, each with a different expertise, will compliment the work of the others. (I can picture it now, some little 5-year old with a slight slip enters the story to say, “This is what synergy is all about, Charlie Brown.”)

Our community, with its diverse citizenry, has a tremendous advantage. Together in cooperation with one another, we can build not merely a better house, but a better community. Each of us, whether one realizes it or not, can add something.

Unity is thus our goal and our focus. Two common bonds (other than geography) touch us all. The first is growth. Our community is growing. The inertia of demographics and the American Dream support this fact. Growth will not so much expand the boundaries of our community (other towns limit this) as it will fill out our existing space. The resulting concentration will begin to blur the distinction between town and village and make our community even more whole.

The second bond involves the school district. Again, America’s traditional embracement of its children’s education plays an important role in our area. Demographics, too, lead us to believe even more emphasis will need to be placed on our school district, primarily because many, if not most, of the families moving into our area have school age children.

Both bonds intermingle. As we address the tough questions of growth, we must deal with the impact our expanding populace will have on our school facilities. I saw “we” with purpose. This affects everyone – those with children and those without children. As individuals, we would forgo responsibility to ourselves and our families if we discuss these matters of import with just a passing whim.

Of course, I’m not saying we should simply blindly throw more cash at the problem. (After all, who do you think we are – Congress?!) Definitely not! We have plenty of people who have taken it upon themselves, at the request of community officials, to evaluate, analyze and recommend appropriate action with regard to the issues of growth and the school. They have and will undoubtedly put in a lot of effort, but your careful consideration always provides help.

In walking the many neighborhoods, I expect to get a feel for the many perspectives people have to offer (on a whole range of issues). Every so often, I will attempt to distill the more salient points into The Commentary for full community review. I tremendously encourage you to write to The Sentinel with your comments and opinions. Remember, The Sentinel is your forum. The many, many dimensions of our neighbors will lead to many, many combinations of solutions to the questions important to our community’s evolution. We must encourage this diversity of thought and weld it purposefully so our country-side blooms with prosperity and solidarity.

Last Week #2: What’s with The Duke of Earl? (originally published April 6, 1989)

Next Week #4: Paper Airplanes – Pure Americana (originally published April 20, 1989)

[What is this and why is here? See Interested in Discovering My Time Machine? for more details.]


  1. Chris Carosa says

    Author’s Comment: This column, written in the guise of a philosophical discourse, likely addresses some specific conversation that occurred the previous week. I don’t remember where – it could have been from a Chamber meeting or a Rotary meeting – but I’m pretty sure I saw two sides squaring off and I wanted to provide a metaphor to cool things down. Unfortunately, with its emphasis on the word “diversity,” this might read quite differently today. The diversity I wrote of alluded to a difference of opinion – an intellectual diversification. In current parlance, diversity generally refers to more superficial aspects. I ask you to keep in mind my contemporary meaning of the word when reading the above article.

    One more thing: You might have noticed the updated logo. This is what I looked like at age twenty-eight. You can see I had already lost the hair on the top of my head. I attribute the appearance of a merely high forehead to the photographic tricks of the few hairs still attached.

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