Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations (IDIC), or Kol-ut-shan in the Vulcan tongue, is an ideal that represents the very basis of Vulcan thought and philosophy. It is the brainchild of the creator of Star Trek, Gene Roddenberry.
“Until humans learn to tolerate – no, that’s not enough; to positively value each other – until we can value the diversity here on Earth, then we don’t deserve to go into outer space and encounter the infinite diversity out there.” – Gene Roddenberry
“Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations represents a Vulcan belief that beauty, growth, progress — all result from the union of the unlike. Concord, as much as discord, requires the presence of at least two different notes. The brotherhood of man is an ideal based on learning to delight in our essential differences, as well as learning to recognize our similarities.” – Gene Roddenberry
This simple statement of his seems to encapsulate the concept. It’s symbol and the underlying concept were first introduced in Season 03, Episode 07 of The Original Series, “Is There In Truth, No Beauty?” which first aired 18 October, 1968 when Doctor Jones points out Spock wearing the symbol.
Like Roddenberry, I feel that the concept of IDIC is one that all of humanity should embrace, and which, until we do, stands as a testament of our unworthiness as a civilization to grow. In the atmosphere of the 21st century, we see a society rife with division. Our current ((OOC of course)) society lacks unity. The divisions of faith betrays true love and tolerance and imposes hatred and distrust. The divisions of political ideologies betrays the people and imposes a struggle for power. The division of the races betrays true brotherhood and accord and imposes discrimination and discord. The division of classes betrays diversity and imposes a caste system. As stated by Susan McCutcheon in her essay, IDIC:
“Each member of this species has a level of apparent intolerance. Prejudices, whether toward other persons or inanimate objects or ideas, abound. Fallible humans utter unkind words, think unkind and impure thoughts, feel jealousy, resentment, anger, and despair.”
Religion, Politics, Race, and Economics prevent all of the inhabitants of Earth from living together in the Peace and Harmony envisioned by the United Federation of Planets. Several faiths believe themselves to be the only true god-inspired religion, and promote the use of division ranging from physical and ideological separation to extreme violence and war in order to preserve their tenets. Political ideologies and parties push their own agenda and demonize all opposition to the point of dehumanization, in order to enforce their version of domain. Persons of a particular ethnic or geographic background promote themselves as being superior to and dominant over other races. And finally, wealthy and power-hungry individuals seeking to add to their personal stockpiles, use the influence of their wealth to buy legislation and to lobby for laws that will benefit them at the expense of the common (financially struggling) people. We are, indeed, the very people defined by Ambassador Soval:
‘We don’t know what to do about humans. Of all the species we’ve made contact with, yours is the only one we can’t define. You have the arrogance of Andorians, the stubborn pride of Tellarites. One moment you’re as driven by your emotions as Klingons, and the next, you confound us by suddenly embracing logic.”
The acceptance by the people of Earth of the philosophical ideal of Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations could very well serve as a catalyst to unity and peace. The idea of acceptance of the range of humanity – race, beliefs, ideas, hopes… all as different pieces of a puzzle, each required in order to complete the whole, would create a greater tolerance. Only once we accept one another as individuals with our differences, can we move beyond primitive animalistic instinct and usher in a utopian era.
=^= Ensign Roundel serves as a Medical Officer aboard the USS Courageous. He is a follower of the writings of Surak (Kri’Shara) and other Vulcan philosophers of logic. He enjoys three dimensional chess with his two daughters, and enjoys a variety of Vulcan music. =^=
“IDIC” Essay by Susan McCutcheon, WKFS Journal, March 1984.
“IDIC”, Fanlore, https://fanlore.org/wiki/IDIC_(glossary_term), retrieved 200330.
“IDIC.”, Memory Alpha, https://memory-alpha.fandom.com/wiki/IDIC, retrieved 200330 .
“IDIC.”, Memory Beta, https://memory-beta.fandom.com/wiki/IDIC, retrieved 200330 .
“IDIC.”, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vulcan_(Star_Trek)#IDIC, retrieved 200330.
“Don’t Know Much About Vulcan Philosopy”, Star Trek Fact Check, http://startrekfactcheck.blogspot.com/2013/08/dont-know-much-about-vulcan-philosophy.html, retrieved 200330.