|Harmony Day (DIAC images)|
Sometimes you can get a sense of what something is by getting a sense of what it isn't.
Diane Eck, Director of Harvard's Pluralism Project, succinctly separates the pluralistic wheat from the chaff, then leaves us with
nuggets to chew over. She begins by explaining that neither diversity nor tolerance – in and of themselves – constitute pluralism.
In other words, it is certainly possible to have a diverse society with warring factions that otherwise disengage from one another. Happens all too often… A pluralistic society would instead embrace diversity by energetically engaging with it. This type of engagement would require "real encounter and relationship" amongst the different groups.
By the same token, simply tolerating the existence of other traditions (by not outright opposing them) is only
the beginning. True pluralism depends upon an "active seeking of understanding across lines of difference." Tolerance can coexist alongside of ignorance - pluralism cannot. Pluralism entails knowledge about "the other" so that stereotypes can dissipate and friendships can begin.
Finally, pluralism is not relativism, but rather "the encounter of commitments." Whereas relativism can imply a stretching or blending of core beliefs, pluralism retains core beliefs while authentically interacting with people of other paths. Dialogue (in which people truly attend to one another) is often a key component of pluralistic interactions.
Copyright August 20, 2013 by Linda Van Slyke All Rights Reserved