But, as with the story of the animals choosing a king, knowledge is not the only possible measure of goodness. Novelty is a great thing, but not the only thing. My Better Half always knows what I'll answer to her question “What do you want for your birthday dinner?”
One of my flaws is a tendency to start new projects before I'm done with the old. One of the Benedictine vows is to “stability.” That can be a more sweeping rule than not just staying in one place and not being a gyrovague. For us it can be turning the compost into the garden year after year after year. Finishing the project. Being reliable.
Novelty can undermine stability. A culture is expressed in explicit rules and artifacts, and in unwritten values and courtesies. How long does your eye rest on someone before it becomes a signal? The MidWest does not agree with New York or with Dakar.
Mix everybody together--hooray for diversity and new ways of looking at things (and cool ethnic restaurants). Now, how do you signal someone that you want him to find a convenient moment to break off what he's doing and speak to you? Spell it out with new jargon? “Please grant me a class B3 interruption to your work.” What constitutes flirting? How can you communicate that you are in a great hurry?
At times like that diversity is obviously a burden. But I gather that it gets even worse. Can you fully trust someone whose values are different and with whom you have no shared history to give meaning to the nuances of language? Saladin and Richard shared martial values and could deal with each other on that basis, but neither would have successfully lived in a city ruled by the other.
Perhaps it is a blind spot in the articulate, that they sometimes think everything is defined in words or rules. But not everything is easily expressible; a constellation of little things can be huge. A man does not want his national home destroyed or even changed, because he can not even remember all the good things that go with it; just as he does not want his house burnt down because he can hardly count all the things he would miss.
And I haven't even gotten to some of the conflicts you get when introspective cultures meet unashamedly assertive ones.
The more diverse a society is, the more is going to have to be spelled out in detail--up to a point at which nobody can possibly know the rules. Beyond that, I suppose you have to have some kind of millet system, which isn't exactly the individual freedom ideal.