What is Pluralism?
The plurality of religious traditions and cultures has come to characterize every part of the world today. But what is pluralism? Here are four points to begin our thinking:
First, pluralism is not diversity alone, but the energetic engagement with diversity. Diversity can and has meant the creation of religious ghettoes with little traffic between or among them. Today, religious diversity is a given, but pluralism is not a given; it is an achievement. Mere diversity without real encounter and relationship will yield increasing tensions in our societies.
Second, pluralism is not just tolerance, but the active seeking of understanding across lines of difference. Tolerance is a necessary public virtue, but it does not require Christians and Muslims, Hindus, Jews, and ardent secularists to know anything about one another. Tolerance is too thin a foundation for a world of religious difference and proximity. It does nothing to remove our ignorance of one another, and leaves in place the stereotype, the half-truth, the fears that underlie old patterns of division and violence. In the world in which we live today, our ignorance of one another will be increasingly costly.
Third, pluralism is not relativism, but the encounter of commitments. The new paradigm of pluralism does not require us to leave our identities and our commitments behind, for pluralism is the encounter of commitments. It means holding our deepest differences, even our religious differences, not in isolation, but in relationship to one another.
Fourth, pluralism is based on dialogue. The language of pluralism is that of dialogue and encounter, give and take, criticism and self-criticism. Dialogue means both speaking and listening, and that process reveals both common understandings and real differences. Dialogue does not mean everyone at the “table” will agree with one another. Pluralism involves the commitment to being at the table — with one’s commitments. —Diana L. Eck, 2006
Sourced through Scoop.it from: pluralism.org
US History teachers at the secondary school level, as well as Global Studies and Participation in Government teachers, should explore this site and try to answer the big questions posed in this site.
Although this site focuses on religious diversity in the United States, it is also about answering the bigger questions about citizenship. It asks who Americans are when they say, “One nation under God”? So often, people make comments in social networks and in face to face conversations about the endangering of Christian beliefs and make claims that the USA is a Christian nation. They dismiss or forget the USA’s exceptionalism is linked to its pluralism. For the country to be “great”, it must uphold and appreciate this history of inclusion, but must also include the ability to dialogue–not just talk for or talk at others–but to actually dialogue. Diana Eck explains: “Dialogue means both speaking and listening, and that process reveals both common understandings and real differences. Dialogue does not mean everyone at the “table” will agree with one another. Pluralism involves the commitment to being at the table — with one’s commitments.”
I learned about this site from a Great Courses audiobook by Prof. Charles Kimball http://www.thegreatcourses.com/courses/comparative-religion.html. As I listen to the first few discs, it occurs to me that Marshall McLuhan’s descriptions of violence and tribalism are manifesting. We have to educate more people with messages from the Pluralism Project to drive back the tide of fear and intolerance.