Aga Khan's Global Centre for Pluralism

Any Institutional activities in the world
Post Reply
kmaherali
Posts: 24037
Joined: Thu Mar 27, 2003 3:01 pm

Post by kmaherali »

Beyond Recovery: Meredith Preston McGhie

Image

Video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bCRp982ipw0

Around the world, people are talking about recovery from the pandemic. How do we push beyond recovery to repair major fault lines and build an equitable future for all?

We’ve asked our network of pluralism champions around the world about what #BeyondRecovery​​ means in their communities. Here’s what Meredith Preston McGhie, Secretary General of the Global Centre for Pluralism had to say.

Learn more: www.pluralism.ca/beyond-recovery/.
kmaherali
Posts: 24037
Joined: Thu Mar 27, 2003 3:01 pm

Post by kmaherali »

Beyond Recovery: A Panel Discussion

Image

Video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CJlNTru30lg

*********
Beyond Recovery : The Power of Pluralism in a Divided Age Highlights

Image

Video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2hj1tO9QOcY
kmaherali
Posts: 24037
Joined: Thu Mar 27, 2003 3:01 pm

Post by kmaherali »

Google translation of the original article in Portuguese:

https://the.ismaili/portugal/ser-ou-n%C ... faz-sentir

To be or not to be ... included. Have you ever thought about how it makes you feel?

Image

The words "pluralism" and "inclusion" are on the agenda. Mawlana Hazar Imam considers this theme so fundamental for society, that it created an institution totally dedicated to pluralism. But why?

During his visit to Portugal, on the occasion of the Golden Jubilee celebrations, Mawlana Hazar Imam spoke to the members of the Portuguese Parliament. When talking about global change and growth he said:

“What will these new realities mean to us? On the one hand, we have to realistically recognize that our interconnected world can cause a growing feeling of distrust, fear and perhaps even disorientation, when looking to the future. Unfortunately, different peoples can sometimes interpret their differences as threats and not as opportunities, defining their own identity by what they reject and not by what they defend ”.

When you think of Pluralism and Cultural Diversity, what comes to mind? Do you feel them as a threat or an opportunity?

When someone introduces himself, is the person identified by what he defends or what he rejects?

Mawlana Hazar Imam also said on that occasion:

“… On the other hand, greater closeness to interactions in our world will also produce new and wonderful opportunities for creative cooperation, healthy interdependence, new discoveries and inspiring growth. When that happens, the opportunity to get involved with people who are different from us does not have to be seen as a burden, but as a blessing ... ”.

How can the difference be a blessing? Can we learn from someone who is different from us? Can we become more empathetic and open when we know "the other" and allow ourselves to make it known? Do we become stronger when we expand our circle and embrace new cultures?

These issues, and many others, will be addressed in the week of Pluralism and Cultural Diversity, from 21st to 28th of May.

Throughout the week, you will be able to hear testimonies in the first person, get to know a little more about the different cultures that we have within our Jamat, and you will also be able to count on two essential programs, which will be shown on Ismaili TV, with special guests. !

Stay tuned to Whatsapp and social networks!
Admin
Posts: 6314
Joined: Mon Jan 06, 2003 10:37 am
Contact:

Princess Zahra Aga Khan address the GCP on 19th May 2021

Post by Admin »

https://the.ismaili/global/news/institu ... lly-19-may

This year’s Annual Pluralism Lecture, presented by the Global Centre for Pluralism in partnership with the University of British Columbia, will be livestreamed on 19 May, and will feature opening remarks by Princess Zahra Aga.

The 8th Annual Pluralism Lecture, entitled “The Moment of Encounter: History, Disruptions, and Transformations” will be delivered by Ethiopian-American novelist Maaza Mengiste from New York’s Center for Fiction.

Ms Mengiste will speak about her journey into historical research while writing her critically acclaimed novel, The Shadow King, which was a finalist for the 2020 Booker Prize. She will discuss the surprising and revelatory discoveries she made about collective memory and official archives, and what history can teach us about the future.

In her opening remarks, Princess Zahra, who is a Global Centre for Pluralism Board Member, will reflect on how the pandemic has created an urgency for conversations and actions centered on building respect, empathy, and a more equitable, just, and prosperous future for all.

Following the lecture, Ms Nahlah Ayed, host and producer of CBC Ideas, will engage in a conversation with Ms Mengiste to discuss some of the lecture’s themes.

The Global Centre for Pluralism is an independent, charitable organization founded by Mawlana Hazar Imam and the Government of Canada. The Centre works with policy leaders, educators, and community builders around the world to amplify and implement the transformative power of pluralism.

The lecture will be webcast live on The Ismaili TV on 19 May at 12 PM (Toronto), 5 PM (London), and 8 PM (Dubai), and will replay on The Ismaili TV in the days after the event.
Last edited by Admin on Wed May 19, 2021 9:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Admin
Posts: 6314
Joined: Mon Jan 06, 2003 10:37 am
Contact:

Post by Admin »

http://facebook.com/GlobalPluralism

In partnership with the Global Centre for Pluralism, this event will connect a small group of UBC students with Maaza Mengiste to discuss creative solutions to real-world problems.

Join us on May 18 at 12:30 p.m. https://bit.ly/2RaV936

May 18, 2021

Vancouver Time 12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m PT

Presented in partnership with the Global Centre for Pluralism

To register: https://ubc.ca1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/ ... v4XK5LnYeq


The 2021 Global Centre for Pluralism's annual lecture entitled _"The Moment of Encounter: History, Disruptions, and Transformations"_ will be delivered in partnership with the University of British Columbia. Ethiopian novelist and 2020 Booker Prize finalist, *Maaza Mengiste* will deliver the the lecture on m *Wednesday, May 19* from New York’s Center for Fiction, followed by a conversation with Nahlah Ayed, host of CBC Radio’s Ideas.

In the lecture, Ms. Mengiste will talk about her journey into historical research while writing her critically acclaimed novel, _The Shadow King_. She will discuss the surprising and revelatory discoveries she made about collective memory and official archives, and what history can teach us about the future.

_*Princess Zahra*_, who is a Global Centre for Pluralism Board Member, will in her opening remarks, reflect on how the pandemic has created an urgency for conversations and actions centered on building respect, empathy, and a more equitable, just, and prosperous future for all.

Join the livestream on *Wednesday, May 19 at 12pm ET - Toronto time* by clicking here - Connect to the livestream on May 19 at 12 PM ET here:

*Facebook* :

facebook.com/GlobalPluralism

*Youtube* :

https://youtube.com/channel/UCr7cUTa9eHWUwVvKy-r1xqg

and

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I5ztss4ojTY

These link should be opened by copy-paste of the URL in your browser.

The mission of the Global Centre for Pluralism is to influence perspectives, inform policies and inspire pathways to advance pluralism. Read more - https://www.pluralism.ca/event/maaza-me ... m-lecture/
kmaherali
Posts: 24037
Joined: Thu Mar 27, 2003 3:01 pm

Post by kmaherali »

Maaza Mengiste delivers 8th Annual Pluralism Lecture

Image

Ethiopian-American novelist Maaza Mengiste delivered the Global Centre for Pluralism’s eighth Annual Pluralism Lecture today, 19 May, following opening remarks by Princess Zahra. The lecture, entitled “The Moment of Encounter: History, Disruptions, and Transformations” was held virtually, in partnership with the University of British Columbia.

In her opening address, Global Centre for Pluralism (GCP) board member Princess Zahra reflected on how the Covid-19 pandemic has created an urgency for conversations and actions centered on building respect, empathy, and a more equitable, just, and prosperous future for all.

“The pandemic, and the inequalities that it has magnified, are a stark reminder of the urgency with which we must come together across our differences to build a more inclusive society,” Princess Zahra said.

“Engaging with one another to build mutual understanding and appreciation across our differences – the kind of dialogue which is at the heart of pluralism – must continue. There are important lessons to be learned from the past year as the pandemic has transformed our societies and our institutions. Our ability to work remotely has shown new approaches to reducing our climate footprint and, for example, brought education to remote communities. These and other positive outcomes have the potential to strengthen our ambition for greater equity in and across our societies.”

The GCP’s annual lecture series features leaders in pluralism, who are making a difference in their chosen fields. Maaza Mengiste is a critically acclaimed novelist and essayist whose work examines the individual lives at stake during migration, war, and exile. Her award-winning novels include Beneath the Lion’s Gaze and The Shadow King.

While introducing Ms Mengiste, Princess Zahra acknowledged the writer’s ability to bridge divides by writing about the struggles and lives of individuals and communities.

“How we talk about history — at school, at home, and through literature — is a powerful part of how we create a sense of belonging and shared destiny as a society. Ms Mengiste’s work reminds us of the hidden stories and voices that we must seek to amplify,” Princess Zahra said.

“Her writing considers how historical narratives and collective memory are shaped over time. History and memory are central to pluralism. We see this in many countries where education is critical to building a pluralistic society.”

Meredith Preston McGhie, Secretary General of the Global Centre for Pluralism, gave additional opening remarks that reemphasized the link between Ms Mengiste’s lecture and the Centre’s mandate.

“The work we do at the Centre focuses on these actions and decisions needed to advance both better structural and cultural responses to diversity,” Ms Preston McGhie said. “This Annual Pluralism Lecture is one such initiative. It provides us an opportunity to learn from distinguished speakers like Ms Mengiste, whose writing tackles issues at the very heart of pluralism — collective memory, historical narratives, belonging, and identity."

Ms Mengiste’s lecture began with the story of a photograph: two men standing side by side, inches apart from one another. One is East African, off to the side, wearing old and torn clothing on his slender frame, shoeless. The other is Italian, centred in the photo with a relaxed expression on his face and well-fitting clothes adorning his powerfully-built frame. Ms Mengiste said she spent many hours examining this photo, sensing that it was trying to tell her something.

She described Benito Mussolini’s fascist intention to colonise Ethiopia in 1935, joining other European colonial powers staking a claim on the African continent, and the propaganda effort involved.

“One of the first steps towards invasion and war involved photographs, a visual narrative to establish a definition of Ethiopians as uncivilized, backwards in every sense, and lacking in all imaginative capacities,” Ms Mengiste said. “The photographs sent back to Italy through the press portrayed the stark differences between East Africans and Italians. Those pictures highlighted the exotic and unusual — the seemingly unbridgeable gaps that existed between two vastly dissimilar groups of people. By the time the invasion happened and war broke out, it was clear to Italians that Ethiopia needed the benevolent hand of Italy. This would be a civilizing mission.”

Before engaging in a conversation with Nahlah Ayed, host and producer of CBC Ideas to discuss some of the lecture’s themes, Ms Mengiste went on to recount the Italian invasion of Ethiopia, offering it as an example of what history can teach us about the future. As an example of the relationship between visible and hidden, power and subjugation, men and women. Between west and east, caucasian and African, known and unknown.

“We have been taught for so long that an answer must always follow a question — that if we cannot point to a resolution then we have failed. But what if, in that space between knowing and confusion, is an entire landscape where something else beyond answers but equally vital exists?” Ms Mengiste asked, hinting at the steps towards tangible progress.

“What if, cradled within each moment of encounter, is a force that can lead us towards real transformation? What if to be disturbed is just one step towards that journey? What if every step forward takes us not into the territory of comfort and certainty, but towards new disruptions and greater leaps?”

In his closing remarks, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of British Columbia Santa Ono concluded by acknowledging that understanding our shared history can “advance or erode efforts at building thriving societies that value diversity. An inclusive approach to history is, therefore, integral to pluralism.”

“An important application of striving for a better world is to unpack and carefully consider the difficult, sometimes painful, lessons from our past. By learning from those mistakes, and addressing them with tangible solutions that can benefit all, we can move forward towards more pluralistic societies, together,” Mr Ono said. “Thank you, Maaza Mengiste, for giving us the opportunity to hear your boundless wisdom today and leaving us with plenty to discuss.”

Photos at:

https://the.ismaili/global/news/institu ... sm-lecture
kmaherali
Posts: 24037
Joined: Thu Mar 27, 2003 3:01 pm

Post by kmaherali »

Global Centre for Pluralism’s Annual Lecture delivered by Ethiopian Novelist Maaza Mengiste

Image

Ottawa, Canada, 19 May 2021 – Award-winning author of The Shadow King, Maaza Mengiste, delivered the 8th Annual Pluralism Lecture today. Maaza Mengiste is a critically acclaimed novelist and essayist whose work examines the individual lives at stake during migration, war, and exile. She was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and lived in Nigeria and Kenya before moving to the United States. Mengiste’s debut novel, Beneath the Lion’s Gaze (2010), was named one of The Guardian’s Ten Best Contemporary African Books. Her latest novel, The Shadow King (2019), was called “one of the most beautiful novels of the year” by National Public Radio. It was a Booker Prize finalist in 2020.

Meredith Preston McGhie, Secretary General of the Global Centre for Pluralism, remarked, “We are thrilled to have Maaza Mengiste deliver this year’s Annual Pluralism Lecture. Her writing tackles issues at the very heart of pluralism – collective memory, historical narratives and identity — and offers us the opportunity to learn about how to build and strengthen societies where everyone belongs .... This is so critically important. Literature can help us see past the polarisation and politicisation of these issues, to bring us to a more constructive place.”

The Annual Pluralism Lecture series presents an opportunity to learn from extraordinary individuals whose work exemplifies pluralism in action. Past lecturers have included South African freedom fighter Justice Albie Sachs; then Chief Justice of Canada Beverley McLachlin; and current UN Secretary-General António Guterres, among others.

Princess Zahra Aga Khan, a board member of the Global Centre for Pluralism, introduced the lecture. “The pandemic, and the inequalities it has surfaced, are a stark reminder of the urgency with which we must come together across our differences to build a more inclusive recovery,” she said. “We see the emotional and social toll that conflict can take, mirrored today in so many societies, from Syria and Yemen to Myanmar.”

Dr. Santa J. Ono, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of British Columbia, said, “In striving for a better world, it is essential to unpack and carefully consider the difficult, sometimes painful, lessons from our past. By learning from those mistakes, and addressing them with tangible solutions that benefit all, we can move forward towards more pluralistic societies, together.”

More information about the event is available here: https://www.pluralism.ca/event/maaza-me ... m-lecture/

https://www.akdn.org/press-release/glob ... a-mengiste
kmaherali
Posts: 24037
Joined: Thu Mar 27, 2003 3:01 pm

Post by kmaherali »

8th Annual Pluralism Lecture with Maaza Mengiste, author of "The Shadow King"

Video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I5ztss4ojTY

Join the Global Centre for Pluralism and the University of British Columbia for a livestream of the 2021 Annual Pluralism Lecture.
Ethiopian novelist and 2020 Booker Prize finalist, Maaza Mengiste, will deliver the 8th Annual Pluralism Lecture, “The Moment of Encounter: History, Disruptions, and Transformations” on May 19, 2021 from New York’s Center for Fiction, followed by a conversation with Nahlah Ayed, host of CBC Radio’s Ideas.
Maaza Mengiste will talk about her journey into historical research while writing her critically acclaimed novel, The Shadow King. She will discuss the surprising and revelatory discoveries she made about collective memory and official archives, and what history can teach us about the future.
Biography:
Born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Maaza Mengiste is a critically acclaimed novelist and essayist whose work examines the individual lives at stake during migration, war, and exile. Mengiste’s debut novel, Beneath the Lion’s Gaze (2010), was named one of The Guardian’s Ten Best Contemporary African Books. Her latest novel, The Shadow King (2019), was called “one of the most beautiful novels of the year” by NPR and was a 2020 Booker Prize finalist. The winner of the 2020 Literature Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, Mengiste’s honours include the Creative Capital Award, a Fulbright Scholarship, and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and Puterbaugh Festival of International Literature & Culture.
Related events:
Maaza Mengiste will also be discussing her book, The Shadow King at a #UBCConnects Masterclass on May 18, 2021. For more information and to register, visit: events.ubc.ca/maaza-mengiste/
..................................................................
Joignez-vous au Centre mondial du pluralisme et à l’Université de la Colombie-Britannique lors de la diffusion en direct de la Conférence annuelle sur le pluralisme 2021.
La romancière éthiopienne et finaliste du Booker Prize 2020, Maaza Mengiste, prononcera la 8e Conférence annuelle sur le pluralisme intitulée « Le moment de la rencontre : histoire, perturbations et transformations » le 19 mai 2021 en direct du Center for Fiction de New York. Elle s’entretiendra ensuite avec Nahlah Ayed, animatrice de l’émission Ideas, sur CBC Radio.
Maaza Mengiste parlera du parcours de recherche historique qu’elle a entrepris pour son roman acclamé par la critique, The Shadow King. Elle abordera les découvertes surprenantes et révélatrices qu’elle a faites sur la mémoire collective et les archives officielles, et ce que l’histoire peut nous enseigner sur l’avenir.
Biographie :
Née à Addis-Abeba, en Éthiopie, Maaza Mengiste est une romancière et essayiste acclamée par la critique. Son travail se penche sur les vies individuelles en jeu lors de migrations, de guerres et d’exils. Le premier roman de Mengiste, Sous le regard du lion (2010), fait partie des dix meilleurs livres africains contemporains selon The Guardian. Son plus récent roman, The Shadow King (2019), est considéré comme « un des plus beaux romans de l’année » par NPR et a figuré en finale du Booker Prize en 2020. Lauréate du Prix littéraire de l’Académie américaine des arts et des lettres, les Prix et distinctions de Mengiste comprennent notamment le Creative Capital Award, une bourse Fulbright et des bourses de recherche du National Endowment for the Arts et du Puterbaugh Festival of International Literature & Culture.
Événement connexe :
Maaza Mengiste parlera de son livre The Shadow King à la classe de maître #UBCConnects le 18 mai 2021. Pour de plus amples informations à ce sujet, visitez le www.events.ubc.ca/maaza-mengiste/.
kmaherali
Posts: 24037
Joined: Thu Mar 27, 2003 3:01 pm

Post by kmaherali »

A Special Message from Aga Khan Council for Canada President Ameerally Kassim-Lakha

Video:

https://www.facebook.com/TheIsmailiOnta ... 603036632/

In this special message to the Jamat, Aga Khan Council for Canada President Ameerally Kassim-Lakha offers a message of condolence and support in light of recent tragic events in Canada.
kmaherali
Posts: 24037
Joined: Thu Mar 27, 2003 3:01 pm

Post by kmaherali »

The attack in London did not occur in a vacuum. It is a reflection of my city – and of Canada

They were killed within walking distance of where I live. A Muslim family, out for an evening stroll.

I walk the same path they took, pray at the mosque where they prayed and even attended the same high school as the daughter. These faces I have seen as I grew up in this community – gone.

Heartbroken? Yes. Shocked? No.

London is my home. But hate, racism and Islamophobia have a deep history here. The Ku Klux Klan established a presence in London in 1872, sowing their hate within the fabric of our city. Fast forward to 2017, when an anti-Islam protest was initiated in this city by the Patriots of Canada Against the Islamization of the West (PEGIDA); roughly 40 members and supporters attended. London has been and still is a hot spot for right-wing extremism, Islamophobia and white supremacist activity.

Growing up in northwest London, my family was one of the few visible Muslims in our neighbourhood. Our home and car were targeted and vandalized monthly. Each time we would just wash off the yolk and clear away the shells, but the stench and fear remained. My parents were always putting on a brave face for their children, playing it down by telling us that it must just be some mischievous kids on the block. After reporting this to the police a few times we gave up, as nothing came of it. But I knew it worried them. They never wanted me to travel alone, especially at night. We had conversations about how the way I looked made me a target, how I needed to be more careful than other kids.

Years before Yumna Afzaal walked the halls of Oakridge Secondary School, my friends and I faced severe opposition from parents – and even some staff – who didn’t want us to create a safe space for Muslim students to practise their faith. This is my London, my Canada.

If we deny that we have a problem, then we will never address the root cause. This is not a lone attack or an incident that occurred in a vacuum. It is a reflection of our city and our country as a whole. Nor are Islamophobia, Indigenous rights, anti-Black racism and antisemitism separate problems. They are all a part of structures created from a colonial past. One that has benefitted from divide-and-conquer policies and depended on “othering” those who are different.

If Canada calls itself a mosaic, then that mosaic is under attack by those who want to destroy it with our blood.

Yet, there is always hope. Thousands attended the vigil at the London Muslim Mosque on Tuesday. People from all walks of life came out to show solidarity to the Muslim community – strangers assuring us, “we are with you, you are loved.”

Just as it took the support of one teacher to stand up as an ally and support the Muslim students at Oakridge Secondary School when I attended all those years ago, what this community needs right now is you. Every Londoner, every Canadian, needs to be an ally. Stand up against the overt aggression but also, perhaps more importantly, against the microaggressions and other forms of racism you have ignored for far too long in your daily lives. Do you speak or act differently when the person looks different than you? Do you politely ignore the racist, Islamophobic, antisemitic, anti-Asian or anti-Indigenous comments you hear from your colleagues, your extended family, your political party? Letting those seemingly big and little things go has brought us here, to this.

I have to commend Jeff Bennett, a former Progressive Conservative Party candidate for London West, for calling it out as it is. “We must take stock of the part we play,” he wrote in a widely shared Facebook post. “No more saying, ‘Oh grandpa is not really racist. He was just raised differently.’ Well that ‘differently’ is not okay. Canada has a racist, unacceptable history. It’s time we call it out, own it and take action.”

Every Indigenous issue is our issue. Every anti-Asian hate crime, every Islamophobic attack, should be seen as a crime against all of us. Every Black life lost senselessly is interconnected. Our colonial past is still affecting us in our everyday lives, making it easier for some to live, while others continue to suffer.

I hope my neighbours in London choose to stand up in solidarity and take action. I hope you all do.

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion ... ection-of/
kmaherali
Posts: 24037
Joined: Thu Mar 27, 2003 3:01 pm

Post by kmaherali »

Video Quote: Why GCP was Established in Canada

Image

Video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7oHTSy5c2PY
kmaherali
Posts: 24037
Joined: Thu Mar 27, 2003 3:01 pm

Post by kmaherali »

Have We Reshaped Middle East Politics or Started to Mimic It?

One day, 1,000 years from now, when they dig up this era, archaeologists will surely ask how was it that a great power called America set out to make the Middle East more like itself — embracing pluralism and the rule of law — and ended up instead becoming more like the Middle East — mimicking its worst tribal mores and introducing a whole new level of lawlessness into its national politics?

Middle Easterners may call their big tribes “Shiites” and “Sunnis” and Americans may call theirs “Democrats” and “Republicans,” but they each seem to operate increasingly with a conformist, us-vs.-them mind-set, albeit at different intensity levels. Extreme Republican tribalism vastly accelerated as the G.O.P. tribe became dominated by a base of largely white Christians, who feared that their long-held primacy in America’s power structure was being eroded by rapidly changing social norms, expanded immigration and globalization, leaving them feeling no longer “at home” in their own country.

To signal that, they latched on to Donald Trump, who enthusiastically gave voice to their darkest fears and raw tribal muscle that escalated the right’s pursuit of minority rule. That is, not just pushing the usual gerrymandering but also propagating conspiracy theories about the 2020 election, passing ever-harsher voter suppression laws and replacing neutral state voting regulators with tribal hacks ready to break the rules. And because this Trump faction came to dominate the base, even once-principled Republicans mostly went along for the ride, embracing the core philosophy that dominates tribal politics in Afghanistan and the Arab world: The “other” is the enemy, not a fellow citizen, and the only two choices are “rule or die.” Either we rule or we delegitimize the results.

Mind you, the archaeologists will also note that Democrats exhibited their own kind of tribal mania, such as the strident groupthink of progressives at 21st-century American universities. In particular, there was evidence of professors, administrators and students being “canceled” — either silenced or thrown off campus for expressing even mildly nonconformist or conservative views on politics, race, gender or sexual identity. An epidemic of tribal political correctness from the left served only to energize the tribal solidarity on the right.

But what triggered the turn from traditional pluralism to ferocious tribalism in the U.S. and many other democracies? My short answer: It’s become a lot harder to maintain democracy today, with social networks constantly polarizing people, and with globalization, climate change, a war on terrorism, widening income gaps and rapid job-shifting technology innovations constantly stressing them. And then a pandemic.

More than a few democratically elected leaders around the world now find it much easier to build support with tribal appeals focused on identity than do the hard work of coalition-building and compromise in pluralistic societies at a complex time.

When that happens, everything gets turned into a tribal identity marker — mask-wearing in the pandemic, Covid-19 vaccinations, gender pronouns, climate change. Your position on each point doubles as a challenge to others: Are you in my tribe or not? So there is less focus on the common good, and ultimately no common ground to pivot off to do big hard things. We once put a man on the moon together. Today, we can barely agree on fixing broken bridges.

More...

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/09/14/opin ... 778d3e6de3
kmaherali
Posts: 24037
Joined: Thu Mar 27, 2003 3:01 pm

Post by kmaherali »

Here’s the Mind-Set That’s Tearing Us Apart

The world is complicated, and our minds have limited capacity, so we create categories to help us make sense of things. We divide, say, the social world into types — hipster, evangelical, nerd, white or Black — and associate traits or characteristics with each.

These judgments involve simplifications and generalizations. But we couldn’t make sense of the blizzard of sensory data each day if we couldn’t put things, situations and people into some form of conceptual boxes. As our old friend Immanuel Kant argued, perceptions without conceptions are blind.

It becomes a serious problem when people begin to believe that these mental constructs reflect underlying realities. This is called essentialism. It is the belief that each of the groups we identify with our labels actually has an “essential” and immutable nature, rooted in biology or in the nature of reality. In the worst kind of case, it’s the belief that Hutus are essentially different from Tutsis, that Christian Germans are innately superior to Jews.

Essentialism can produce certain common habits of mind. Essentialists may imagine that people in one group are more alike than they really are and are more different from people in other groups than they really are. Essentialists may believe that the boundaries between groups are clear and hard and anybody adopting the culture of another group is guilty of appropriation. Essentialists may see the world divided into Manichaean dichotomies, and history as a clash of group-versus-group power struggles — clashes that demand utter group solidarity and give life meaning.

America is awash in essentialism. As the New York University philosophy professor Kwame Anthony Appiah, who writes the Ethicist column for The Times Magazine, has noted, before World War II few thought about identities the way we do today. But now it feels that contemporary politics is almost all about identity — about which type of person is going to dominate.

At some level this is necessary. The great project of the past 70 years or so has been to right the injustices that historical essentialists imposed on groups they labeled and oppressed.

The problem comes when people replicate the mind-set they are fighting against. The Johns Hopkins political scientist Yascha Mounk observed that there are at least two large social movements in American life on different spots on the essentialist spectrum. On the right, there is “the ethnonationalist, white nationalist position that race is real and it will always be there, and societies will thrive insofar as the supposedly superior group manages to stay in charge.” On the left there is the tendency that holds “that race is so essential and so deeply baked in that it will always define communities and societies, and rather than having a liberal democracy in which we primarily are seen as individual citizens with the same rights and duties, we should primarily be seen as members of our racial or perhaps religious communities.”

When essentialist groups go at each other, sweeping generalizations have a tendency to fill the air. You run across workshops on topics like “What’s Up With White Women?” as if all the white women in the world were somehow one category. You get a Trump-endorsed gubernatorial candidate in Arizona pledging to take a sledgehammer to a category of people called the “corrupt media,” and charging the “corporate media establishment” with employing methods “right out of a communist playbook.” Politics is no longer about argument; it’s just jamming together a bunch of scary categories about people who are allegedly rotten to the core.

Worse, you find yourself in a society with rampant dehumanization, where people are barraged with crude stereotypes that are increasingly detached from the complexities of reality and make them feel unseen as individuals.

Some people say the thing to do is to drop the group mentality entirely. Judge people as individuals only. That seems unrealistic to me, and even undesirable as an aspirational ideal. I wouldn’t want to live in a world that didn’t have group consciousness, a world without Irish people singing about Irish history, without Black writers exploring different versions of the Black experience.

But we can have groups without essentialism, we can become more intolerant of the essentialist cast of mind. That begins by acknowledging, as Appiah has observed, that all our stereotypes are wrong to some degree. I would add, they are always hurtful to some degree. We should be much more suspicious of our categories, much quicker to acknowledge that they are sometimes helpful but always simplistic fabrications.

It would mean constantly toggling back and forth between seeing groups and seeing persons. People are amazingly quick to drop stereotypes when they meet an actual individual. You may distrust lawyers but Mary, who is a lawyer, seems quite nice. In general, I’d say people are much more granular, sophisticated and complex about seeing persons than they are when seeing groups, and the more personalistic the perspective people adopt the wiser and kinder they will be.

It also requires social courage, crossing group lines to have conversations. When we have conversations with people in other groups, we take the static world of essentialism and turn it into flux. In conversation people are not objects, but ongoing narrators of their own lives, navigating between their multiple identities, steering through certainties and doubts, and refining their categories through contact with others.

We’re a big diverse country; whether we see that diversity through a fixed mind-set or a growth mind-set makes all the difference.

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/10/07/opin ... 778d3e6de3
kmaherali
Posts: 24037
Joined: Thu Mar 27, 2003 3:01 pm

Post by kmaherali »

Video Quote: Clash of Ignorance and Education

Image

Video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uCfxtae-gDQ
kmaherali
Posts: 24037
Joined: Thu Mar 27, 2003 3:01 pm

Post by kmaherali »

Video Quote: Genuine Pluralism and Connectivity

Image

Video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hT3HZg30blc
kmaherali
Posts: 24037
Joined: Thu Mar 27, 2003 3:01 pm

Post by kmaherali »

2021 Global Pluralism Award Finalists

In recognition of outstanding achievements to support more inclusive societies worldwide, the renowned international jury selected 10 finalists for the 2021 Global Pluralism Award.

Introducing our 2021 Global Pluralism Award Finalists

Video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H0x7X0Z3tDs&t=159s


All Out | Global

Image

All Out is a global LGBT+ movement committed to creating a world where nobody has to sacrifice their family, freedom, safety or dignity because of who they are or who they love. Their work contributes to pluralism and the respect for diversity by building positive narratives about LGBT+ lives around the world, changing hearts and minds among potential allies and ultimately contributing to better lived experiences for LGBT+ communities.

ArtLords | Afghanistan

Image

ArtLords combines street art and activism to facilitate social transformation and trauma healing. Founded in Afghanistan, ArtLords’ collective of ‘artivists’ have painted over 2,000 murals across the country’s bomb-blast walls, spreading messages of peace, justice and tolerance. ArtLords is also pivoting their work to new global contexts, including Afghan refugee communities, with a vision to one day hold exhibitions around the world.

Carolina Contreras | Dominican Republic

Image

Carolina Contreras is a social entrepreneur who empowers Afro-Latinxs by redefining beauty standards through Miss Rizos (in English, “Miss Curls”), a global movement that seeks to normalize and celebrate natural hair. With natural hair salons and youth empowerment initiatives in Santo Domingo and New York City, Ms. Contreras is empowering thousands of women and girls to celebrate diversity, challenge stereotypes and rewrite a deeply embedded colonial narrative about what it means to be beautiful.

Community Building Mitrovica | Kosovo

Image

Community Building Mitrovica is a grassroots organization that creates safe spaces for dialogue and relationship-building across ethnic lines in northern Kosovo. Working in Mitrovica, a city known for its ethnic diversity and ethnic divides, the organization connects Serbian and Albanian communities that have been separated by war and mistrust. By gathering citizens around issues of peacebuilding, human rights and economic development, Community Building Mitrovica builds links of trust and contributes to advancing a pluralist society.

Hand in Hand: Center for Jewish-Arab Education in Israel | Israel

Image

Hand in Hand: Center for Jewish-Arab Education in Israel is a network of integrated, bilingual and multicultural schools equipping a new generation to live together in cooperation and respect.  In these schools, Hebrew and Arabic languages have equal status, as do both cultures and national narratives. With over 2,000 students and supported by a community of active citizens who come together in solidarity and dialogue, Hand in Hand is working to build a shared, inclusive society.

Lenin Raghuvanshi | India

Image

Lenin Raghuvanshi is a human rights defender working to advance the rights of India’s most marginalized communities. He is the co-founder of People’s Vigilance Committee on Human Rights, an inclusive social movement that challenges the patriarchy and the caste system. Mr. Raghuvanshi works at the village level across 5 states in northern India to strengthen local institutions, promote human rights and to build connections across the society.

Namati Kenya | Kenya

Image

Namati Kenya provides free legal aid to historically excluded communities who lack national identity documents they need to access even the most basic services.  Since 2013, Namati Kenya has supported more than 12,000 Kenyans in efforts to obtain these legal identity documents. Through a network of community paralegals, the organization builds legal awareness, aiming to empower communities to overcome discrimination and cultivate inclusivity and belonging.

Puja Kapai | Hong Kong

Image

Puja Kapai is an academic, lawyer and social justice advocate who challenges gendered and racialized cultural norms and champions equal rights for Hong Kong’s ethnic minorities. Through an intersectional approach that combines research, advocacy and grassroot mobilization, Ms. Kapai has garnered unprecedented attention to the status of ethnic minorities in Hong Kong, contributing to the abolishment of racially segregated schools for ethnic minority children.

Rose LeMay | Canada

Image

Rose LeMay is an educator from the Taku River Tlingit First Nation and the CEO and founder of Indigenous Reconciliation Group. Through her organization, Ms. LeMay works to change the mindsets of non-Indigenous Canadians, encouraging them to take the first steps towards reconciliation. Ms. LeMay has spent her career advocating for Indigenous inclusion and has educated and coached thousands of Canadians on cultural competence and anti-racism.

Trésor Nzengu Mpauni | Malawi

Image

Trésor Nzengu Mpauni, also known as Menes la Plume, is a Congolese hip-hop artist and slam poet living in Dzaleka Refugee Camp, who uses his talents to raise awareness on issues surrounding refugees. Mr. Mpauni is the founder of Tumaini Festival, the only international arts and music festival based at a refugee camp, promoting intercultural harmony and greater understanding of the refugee experience. Since 2014, he has attracted hundreds of performers and thousands of attendees from around the world to what is today one of Malawi’s premier festivals.

https://award.pluralism.ca/2021-global- ... finalists/
kmaherali
Posts: 24037
Joined: Thu Mar 27, 2003 3:01 pm

Post by kmaherali »

Video Quote: Meaning of Pluralism

Image

Video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E-hYA1loagE
kmaherali
Posts: 24037
Joined: Thu Mar 27, 2003 3:01 pm

Post by kmaherali »

Help! I’m Stuck in a Knowledge Bubble and I Need to Get Out.

Image

We need to find out why our neighbors and fellow citizens think the way they do

Paul Finebaum is a very well known person in America. His four-hour simulcast radio show and television show center on college football and, specifically, the Southeastern Conference, and he has an audience in the millions, according to the SEC Network.

In fact, not only is Finebaum, 66, a household name in the South, but so are some of the people who call in to talk about their favorite team. To quote a 2012 New Yorker profile of him, “In Alabama, the saying goes, there are two types of people: those who admit they listen to Paul Finebaum, and liars.”

He’s so important to his fans that one of them called from the hospital after having a heart attack to say goodbye to Paul personally. And when one superfan of the show (and of Auburn football) died in a car accident in 2018, he went to her funeral.

But if you live outside of the South (or the realm of college football), you may have never heard of him. My editor hadn’t and neither did one of my other colleagues, who’s one of the smartest people I know.

That’s no failing on their part, or yours. It just means that you, like me, and like Paul Finebaum, live in a particular knowledge bubble. Knowledge bubbles are normal: We generally know a lot about the things we care about most.

I write this newsletter for The New York Times, which means that I write this for you, the subscribers. Those of you who are reading this probably know a lot about American politics, and are steeped in a particular East Coast-centric culture. I’m going to assume that some of you might know less about, say, the inner workings of a call-in radio show that focuses on college football teams in the Southeast.

Knowledge bubbles become problematic and even dangerous when we pretend as if they don’t exist or don’t matter. Because what we don’t know — about the lives of our neighbors and fellow citizens and why they think the way they do — is almost as important as what we do know.

Why do people who live in places we’ve never visited vote for people we can’t stand? Why are the political priorities of some people so different from ours? Why don’t these people do the things that seem so very logical to me?

If we don’t know the answers, sometimes we’ll fill in our own: Those people must be stupid. Or ill informed. Or maybe they didn’t read the right books. Or maybe they don’t believe in the right things. We’re all very good at pointing out what types of knowledge others lack, but sometimes less good at identifying what we ourselves need to learn more about.

In America, such as it exists right now, we have taken this problem to new extremes, of course, given that we don’t even share a singular set of facts. That makes us all the more distrustful of those outside of our own knowledge bubbles, and all too sure of our ideological allies. What we don’t know about one another hinders whatever we want to do together.

Puncturing our knowledge bubbles is a necessity. We can create better policies when we know what people do and don’t want, and why.

To that end, I spoke to Paul Finebaum to break you out of a knowledge bubble you might be in. Because his job relies on conversations with people who are often very angry with him, Finebaum is always learning about what he does and doesn’t know, too. Our conversation has been edited for clarity and length.

Conversation at:

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/11/20/opin ... 778d3e6de3
kmaherali
Posts: 24037
Joined: Thu Mar 27, 2003 3:01 pm

Post by kmaherali »

Arrests, Beatings and Secret Prayers: Inside the Persecution of India’s Christians

“They want to remove us from society,” a Christian farmer said of Hindu extremists. Rising attacks on Christians are part of a broader shift in India, in which minorities feel less safe.

INDORE, India — The Christians were mid-hymn when the mob kicked in the door.

A swarm of men dressed in saffron poured inside. They jumped onstage and shouted Hindu supremacist slogans. They punched pastors in the head. They threw women to the ground, sending terrified children scuttling under their chairs.

“They kept beating us, pulling out hair,” said Manish David, one of the pastors who was assaulted. “They yelled: ‘What are you doing here? What songs are you singing? What are you trying to do?’”

The attack unfolded on the morning of Jan. 26 at the Satprakashan Sanchar Kendra Christian center in the city of Indore. The police soon arrived, but the officers did not touch the aggressors. Instead, they arrested and jailed the pastors and other church elders, who were still dizzy from getting punched in the head. The Christians were charged with breaking a newly enforced law that targets religious conversions, one that mirrors at least a dozen other measures across the country that have prompted a surge in mob violence against Indian Christians.

Pastor David was not converting anyone, he said. But the organized assault against his church was propelled by a growing anti-Christian hysteria that is spreading across this vast nation, home to one of Asia’s oldest and largest Christian communities, with more than 30 million adherents.

Anti-Christian vigilantes are sweeping through villages, storming churches, burning Christian literature, attacking schools and assaulting worshipers. In many cases, the police and members of India’s governing party are helping them, government documents and dozens of interviews revealed. In church after church, the very act of worship has become dangerous despite constitutional protections for freedom of religion.

To many Hindu extremists, the attacks are justified — a means of preventing religious conversions. To them, the possibility that some Indians, even a relatively small number, would reject Hinduism for Christianity is a threat to their dream of turning India into a pure Hindu nation. Many Christians have become so frightened that they try to pass as Hindu to protect themselves.

“I just don’t get it,” said Abhishek Ninama, a Christian farmer, who stared dejectedly at a rural church stomped apart this year. “What is it that we do that makes them hate us so much?”

The pressure is greatest in central and northern India, where the governing party of Prime Minister Narendra Modi is firmly in control, and where evangelical Christian groups are making inroads among lower-caste Hindus, albeit quietly. Pastors hold clandestine ceremonies at night. They conduct secret baptisms. They pass out audio Bibles that look like little transistor radios so that illiterate farmers can surreptitiously listen to the scripture as they plow their fields.

Since its independence in 1947, India has been the world’s largest experiment in democracy. At times, communal violence, often between Hindus and Muslims, has tested its commitment to religious pluralism, but usually the authorities try, albeit sometimes too slowly, to tamp it down.

The issue of conversions to Christianity from Hinduism is an especially touchy subject, one that has vexed the country for years and even drew in Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first prime minister, who fiercely guarded India’s secular ideals. In the past few years, Mr. Modi and his Hindu nationalist party have tugged India far to the right, away from what many Indians see as the multicultural foundation Nehru built. The rising attacks on Christians, who make up about 2 percent of the population, are part of a broader shift in India, in which minorities feel less safe.

More...

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/12/22/worl ... 778d3e6de3
kmaherali
Posts: 24037
Joined: Thu Mar 27, 2003 3:01 pm

Post by kmaherali »

As Officials Look Away, Hate Speech in India Nears Dangerous Levels

Activists and analysts say calls for anti-Muslim violence — even genocide — are moving from the fringes to the mainstream, while political leaders keep silent.


HARIDWAR, India — The police officer arrived at the Hindu temple here with a warning to the monks: Don’t repeat your hate speech.

Ten days earlier, before a packed audience and thousands watching online, the monks had called for violence against the country’s minority Muslims. Their speeches, in one of India’s holiest cities, promoted a genocidal campaign to “kill two million of them” and urged an ethnic cleansing of the kind that targeted Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar.

When videos of the event provoked national outrage, the police came. The saffron-clad preachers questioned whether the officer could be objective.

Yati Narsinghanand, the event’s firebrand organizer known for his violent rhetoric, assuaged their concerns.

“Biased?” Mr. Narsinghanand said, according to a video of the interaction. “He will be on our side,” he added, as the monks and the officer broke into laughter.

Once considered fringe, extremist elements are increasingly taking their militant message into the mainstream, stirring up communal hate in a push to reshape India’s constitutionally protected secular republic into a Hindu state. Activists and analysts say their agenda is being enabled, even normalized, by political leaders and law enforcement officials who offer tacit endorsements by not directly addressing such divisive issues.

After the monks’ call to arms went viral, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his top leaders remained silent, except for a vice president with a largely ceremonial role who warned that “inciting people against each other is a crime against the nation” without making a specific reference to Haridwar. Junior members of Mr. Modi’s party attended the event, and the monks have often posted pictures with senior leaders.

“You have persons giving hate speech, actually calling for genocide of an entire group, and we find reluctance of the authorities to book these people,” Rohinton Fali Nariman, a recently retired Indian Supreme Court judge, said in a public lecture. “Unfortunately, the other higher echelons of the ruling party are not only being silent on hate speech, but almost endorsing it.”

More...

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/08/worl ... 778d3e6de3
Admin
Posts: 6314
Joined: Mon Jan 06, 2003 10:37 am
Contact:

Re: Aga Khan's Global Centre for Pluralism

Post by Admin »

Global Center for Pluralism - Award Ceremony

2022, February 23 at noon EST - Live on https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VvZNz5FzKbM

The 2021 #GlobalPluralismAward Ceremony will be the first one to take place virtually.

Our winners will be joined by Her Highness Princess Zahra Aga Khan, former Governor General @APClarkson, and Executive Director of Dalberg Group James Mwangi.

The event will be webcast on https://bit.ly/33c54Ms and on www.ismaili.net

Image
kmaherali
Posts: 24037
Joined: Thu Mar 27, 2003 3:01 pm

Re: Aga Khan's Global Centre for Pluralism

Post by kmaherali »

Global Pluralism Awards spotlights champions of positive change

Image
The Global Pluralism Award winners exemplify how to live peacefully and productively, while engaging with diversity.

The Global Pluralism Award ceremony was streamed to a worldwide audience on 23 February 2022, highlighting the organisations and individuals who demonstrate pluralism in action everyday.

The virtual ceremony recognised the three winners of the 2021 Award, selected from among 10 finalists and nearly 500 submissions,by the renowned international jury. The occasion marks the third conferral of the awards, after previous ceremonies in 2017 and 2019.

Hosted by Meredith Preston McGhie, Secretary General of the Global Centre for Pluralism (GCP), this was the first time it was not possible to gather for an in-person ceremony, due to Covid-19 precautions.

“Amidst this pandemic, which has amplified existing inequalities around the world, the Awardees have persevered, in hugely challenging contexts in the pursuit of more just, equitable, and peaceful societies,” said Secretary General McGhie.

“There are so many words to describe the Awardees – their courage, resilience and creativity inspire us,” she continued. “They remind us that positive change is possible, they remind us that divisions can be overcome.”

In a rapidly changing world, this year’s award winners exemplify how to live peacefully and productively, while engaging with diversity. Each of them was introduced and congratulated by a GCP Board Member respectively.

Sowing seeds of peace

“Education plays a fundamental role in fostering pluralism and building societies where diversity is valued.” said Princess Zahra, in her remarks to introduce the first winner, Hand in Hand: Center for Jewish-Arab Education in Israel.

“Through a distinctive approach to education and community-building, Hand in Hand is creating systemic change by cultivating relationships of trust and equality that empower citizens to live together in dignity and mutual understanding,” Princess Zahra continued.

Hand in Hand is a network of integrated, bilingual, and multicultural schools in which Hebrew and Arabic languages have equal status, as do both cultures and national narratives. Supported by a community of active citizens who value solidarity and dialogue, the organisation works to build a shared, inclusive society, and equips the next generation to live together in cooperation and respect.  

“Pluralism has always been at the heart of our work,” said Dani Elazar, CEO of Hand in Hand, in his acceptance address. “Our schools and communities celebrate Palestinian and Jewish cultures, languages and identities, and build lasting relationships that lead to large-scale, sustainable change.”

Cultivating inclusivity and belonging

“Belonging is the goal of pluralism and belonging is at the heart of Namati Kenya’s work,” said The Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson, introducing this year’s second winner.

“At a practical, institutional level Namati Kenya creates pathways for a pluralist society, securing citizenship rights for the marginalised and ensuring that citizens receive equal treatment under law,” continued Ms Clarkson.

Namati Kenya provides free legal aid to historically excluded communities who lack the national identity documents they need to access basic services. Since 2013, the organisation has supported 12,000 Kenyans to obtain these legal identity documents. Their network of community paralegals help to build legal awareness and empower communities to overcome discrimination.

“Being recognized as a winner of the Global Pluralism Award for this work is a true honour,” said Mustafa Mahmoud, Senior Programme Manager of Namati Kenya. “It is a testament to the idea that everyone – even those who have long been at the margins – can be an agent of change in creating a pluralistic society.”

Strengthening grassroots advocacy

“[Puja’s] contributions to the field of pluralism are far-reaching, relevant and impactful across multiple sectors and spheres of society,” said James Mwangi, introducing the third and final winner of this year’s award, Puja Kapai.

“Her work on minority rights in Hong Kong is also of immense value to the international community, providing roadmaps for global initiatives that celebrate diversity and protect human rights.”

Ms Kapai is an academic, lawyer, and social justice advocate who champions equal rights for Hong Kong’s ethnic minorities. Through an intersectional approach that combines research, advocacy, and grassroot mobilisation, she has garnered unprecedented attention to the status of ethnic minorities in the city.

“This Award renders visible the lived realities of all those who are routinely marginalised and experience systemic exclusion and discrimination,” said Ms Kapai, whose work has contributed to the abolishment of racially segregated schools for ethnic minority children in Hong Kong.

“May our efforts to advance pluralism going forward lay the foundation for a world that is free from hatred, division and exclusion and ring in an era of kindness, justice, and inclusion for all.”

Celebrating a prize-winning crop

Each of the winners will receive a commemorative sculpture, designed by the renowned German Muslim artist, the late Karl Schlamminger. They will also receive a grant of CAD $50,000 to support their work advancing pluralism in their own context.

In closing the ceremony, The Right Honourable Joe Clark, Jury Chair of the Global Pluralism Award, applauded the creativity, dedication, and courage of the awardees honoured at the event, who were drawn from hundreds of submissions from across 70 countries.

“Their stories are as unique as they are geographically diverse and, in distinctive ways, they demonstrate the power of working cooperatively to drive change,” he concluded.

“Today, these recipients join our honourees from 2017 and 2019, as part of a growing network of pluralism champions working all around the world.”

https://the.ismaili/global/news/institu ... ive-change
kmaherali
Posts: 24037
Joined: Thu Mar 27, 2003 3:01 pm

THE TOXIN OF HATE

Post by kmaherali »

As received:

𝘛𝘩𝘪𝘴 𝘪𝘴 𝘢 𝘱𝘢𝘺𝘸𝘢𝘭𝘭𝘦𝘥 𝘐𝘯𝘥𝘪𝘢 𝘛𝘰𝘥𝘢𝘺 𝘗𝘳𝘦𝘮𝘪𝘶𝘮 𝘢𝘳𝘵𝘪𝘤𝘭𝘦, 𝘴𝘰 𝘐'𝘮 𝘤𝘰𝘱𝘺𝘱𝘢𝘴𝘵𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘪𝘵 𝘩𝘦𝘳𝘦 𝘣𝘦𝘤𝘢𝘶𝘴𝘦 𝘪𝘵 𝘯𝘦𝘦𝘥𝘴 𝘵𝘰 𝘣𝘦 𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘥 - 𝘣𝘺 𝘢𝘴 𝘮𝘢𝘯𝘺 𝘱𝘦𝘰𝘱𝘭𝘦 𝘢𝘴 𝘱𝘰𝘴𝘴𝘪𝘣𝘭𝘦 𝘢𝘮𝘰𝘯𝘨 𝘵𝘩𝘰𝘴𝘦 𝘸𝘩𝘰 𝘣𝘦𝘭𝘪𝘦𝘷𝘦 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘐𝘯𝘥𝘪𝘢'𝘴 𝘥𝘢𝘯𝘴𝘦 𝘮𝘢𝘤𝘢𝘣𝘳𝘦 𝘸𝘪𝘵𝘩 𝘢𝘯𝘵𝘪𝘔𝘶𝘴𝘭𝘪𝘮𝘪𝘴𝘮 𝘪𝘴 𝘳𝘶𝘪𝘯𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘤𝘰𝘶𝘯𝘵𝘳𝘺 𝘸𝘪𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘯 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘸𝘪𝘵𝘩𝘰𝘶𝘵.

THE TOXIN OF HATE

by Shashi Tharoor

22 April 2022

When the Editor asks, ‘Is the Divide Deepening?’, I do not find myself thinking immediately of the depressingly familiar tragedies that must have prompted his question—the communal rioting, mob lynchings and cow vigilantism that have scarred our society—nor even the manufactured controversies over hijab, halal meat and azaan on loudspeakers that have recently served to marginalise our country’s Muslim minority. Instead, I find myself thinking of three seemingly trivial anecdotes that came to my attention in recent weeks, which illustrated the divide more directly, if less starkly, for me.

Episode One: In Jaipur recently, I met a blonde Lebanese lady who had been coming to India for 15 years to deal in handicrafts and jewellery. Visibly foreign, she had been warmly welcomed in the past; when she introduced herself as Nour, people would say, “Oh, what a lovely name! We have the same name in India! We know it means ‘light’!” Today, she says, things have changed. When she says her name is Nour, the reaction she gets is immediate: “Oh, you are Muslim?” The question, and the tone of the query, says it all. She is less sure now that she will be coming back as often.

Episode Two: A former Indian ambassador, who had enjoyed something of a reputation during his MEA career as a hawk on Pakistan and on Islamist terrorism, told me of a friend of his, an eminent surgeon in Kabul. The surgeon, alarmed by the rising influence of the Taliban in his country, decided, at this ambassador’s prompting, to send his wife and children to India (not Pakistan!) to live and study, free from resurgent Islamic fundamentalism. They rented a flat in Gurgaon, enrolled in a good school. But within a year they realised this was no longer the India the surgeon had remembered when he took his decision. The most painful blow came when the children’s playmates in their apartment building announced to them, “Our parents told us not to play with you because you are Muslim.” My ambassador friend, in shock and despair, said he advised the surgeon, “Take your children to Dubai or London. I am ashamed that I encouraged you to bring them up in my country.”

Episode Three: An Indian at the United Nations, an experienced peace negotiator who had served in many trouble spots across the Middle East, found himself in an Arab country in a tense meeting with an Islamic militant, complete with beard, turban and Kalashnikov. The ice broke: even though it was Ramadan, the militant lit up, offered the UN man a cigarette, laughed and joked expansively as they discussed a thorny issue. Then he asked, almost casually: “And where are you from?” When the UN official said “India”, the mood changed instantly. “India? I have heard how you are treating Muslims there. Get out, UN man, or I will not be responsible for what happens to you.” The UN official tried to remonstrate that the militant was misinformed, as did the European UN official accompanying him, but the militant would not be mollified. His sources, he said, were multiple: he might be a militant, but he read and watched the world media. The meeting was over. The Indian got out by the skin of his teeth.

Yes, I am aware of the limitations of analysis by anecdote. But these three unrelated and disconnected incidents, all of which came to my notice in a span of two or three weeks, reveal the extent to which the communal divide has deepened in our society. The toxin that has been injected into our body politic, in pursuit of the petty political goal of communal polarisation, has inevitably had repercussions that go far beyond the specific electoral gains that might accrue to the forces spreading the poison. It has envenomed our society, turning India into something it never was.

What has changed can be anatomised. Things are now being said from public platforms, and recorded and widely distributed via social media, that in the past would have been considered inappropriate to say even behind closed doors in your living room. Bigotry is openly expressed and hate speech has become so commonplace that it no longer arouses comment. There was a time when India’s central and state governments went out of their way to set an example of communal harmony and convey public disapproval of its opposite. Today, the authorities hardly ever raise their voice to condemn such utterances and, if violence follows, take no action against those who instigate it, provided they belong to the “majority community”.

I grew up in an India where the “Ganga-Jamuni tehzeeb” was celebrated and “national integration” was a slogan and a practice. Today, nationalism is equated with majoritarianism and integration implies only submission to the dominant community’s narrative.

In my childhood, “entertainment tax” used to be waived on films like Amar Akbar Anthony, the tale of three toddlers separated in infancy who are brought up as Hindu, Muslim and Christian and unite at the end to defeat the bad guys. Today, it is waived on a film like The Kashmir Files whose screenings end in patrons baying for revenge against Muslims.

In the India the world knew, Indians were treated with respect and honour across the Muslim world, not least because they were seen as a land that Muslims proudly hailed as their own. Today, Indians are associated with the persecution of Muslims and rampant Islamophobia.

There was a time when we would boast with pride to foreigners that despite having 180 million Muslims in India, only a handful of Indian Muslims had joined the Taliban, Al-Qaida or Daesh, because Indian Muslims had a strong sense of belonging to India and a stake in its success. Today, the talk is increasingly of a fearful and alienated minority, of Muslims choosing to leave India wherever they have the option and others being radicalised, not by Islamist preachings, but by their own experiences in India. Intelligence officers now assume that the receptivity to extremism is growing.

The communal divide is not just deepening; it has poisoned our society and is transmuting it for the worse, unleashing unpredictable consequences and untold dangers for all of us. The era of national integration is over; we can only hope our rulers find enough wisdom to prevent an era of national disintegration.

𝘛𝘩𝘦 𝘢𝘶𝘵𝘩𝘰𝘳 𝘪𝘴 𝘢 𝘓𝘰𝘬 𝘚𝘢𝘣𝘩𝘢 𝘔𝘗 𝘧𝘳𝘰𝘮 𝘛𝘩𝘪𝘳𝘶𝘷𝘢𝘯𝘢𝘯𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘱𝘶𝘳𝘢𝘮, 𝘤𝘩𝘢𝘪𝘳𝘮𝘢𝘯 𝘰𝘧 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘗𝘢𝘳𝘭𝘪𝘢𝘮𝘦𝘯𝘵𝘢𝘳𝘺 𝘚𝘵𝘢𝘯𝘥𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘊𝘰𝘮𝘮𝘪𝘵𝘵𝘦𝘦 𝘰𝘯 𝘐𝘯𝘧𝘰𝘳𝘮𝘢𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯 𝘛𝘦𝘤𝘩𝘯𝘰𝘭𝘰𝘨𝘺 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘤𝘩𝘢𝘪𝘳𝘮𝘢𝘯, 𝘈𝘭𝘭-𝘐𝘯𝘥𝘪𝘢 𝘗𝘳𝘰𝘧𝘦𝘴𝘴𝘪𝘰𝘯𝘢𝘭𝘴 𝘊𝘰𝘯𝘨𝘳𝘦𝘴𝘴.
kmaherali
Posts: 24037
Joined: Thu Mar 27, 2003 3:01 pm

America Has a Scorn Problem

Post by kmaherali »

Image

In the Bible’s Book of Luke, there’s a parable about a religious person, who has all the right opinions, and a tax collector, who is culturally despised. To paraphrase the religious person, he prays, “Thank you, God, that I’m not like those others, the immoral people.” But the tax collector beats his chest in sorrow and prays for God’s mercy. The parable is about the need for humility. The “sinner,” the tax collector, not the religious person, turns out to be the righteous one. Luke tells us that Jesus told this parable “to some who had great confidence in their own righteousness and scorned everyone else.” That appears to be a lot of us in 21st-century America.

A Scientific American report on political polarization noted that Americans increasingly hold “a basic abhorrence for their opponents — an ‘othering’ in which a group conceives of its rivals as wholly alien in every way.” It continues, “This toxic form of polarization has fundamentally altered political discourse, public civility and even the way politicians govern.” A 2019 study by Pew said, “55 percent of Republicans say Democrats are ‘more immoral’ when compared with other Americans; 47 percent of Democrats say the same about Republicans.”

We find one another repugnant — not just wrong, but bad. Our rhetoric casts the arguments of others as profound moral failings.

Those who are sympathetic to the Florida legislation dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill don’t just want to leave lessons on sexual orientation and gender identity — with all the inevitable values-laden presuppositions they entail — to parents until kids are around 9 years old; they are “homophobic” and “transphobic.” Those who oppose the bill don’t simply think it wise to acknowledge the reality of multiple sexual orientations and gender identities in a pluralistic society or worry the bill may force gay teachers into the closet; they are “groomers.”

Those who want to roll back Covid restrictions are not people who, given the effectiveness of vaccines, are concerned about other social problems caused by Covid precautions; they are “ableists.” Those who take a more cautious approach are “alarmists.”

Those who think that balancing the rights of a pregnant woman with the rights of a fetus is difficult enough that decisions about whether to abort are best left to individuals, not the state, are smeared as “baby killers.” Those who believe biology makes it clear that a fetus is a human being who deserves protection from lethal violence are deemed “misogynists” or even, as one representative email I received after last week’s newsletter on abortion said, “full of hate, racism and white supremacy.”

Our tendency to adopt polarizing and moralistic patterns of speech is turbo-boosted by a social media architecture that encourages animosity toward outgroups.

But this hatred toward our opponents and the accompanying habit of moralism is destroying us as people. To be clear, I am not saying that I find all the brief arguments I’ve listed above equally valid or true. And I’m certainly not saying that they don’t really matter or have enormous cultural ramifications. I’m saying that we cannot flourish as individuals or as a society if we cast all those who differ from us as moral monsters.

To do so is a self-defensive move, and one that is ultimately self-defeating. If others’ views are simply morally indefensible, we don’t have to defend our own. We don’t have to consider complex arguments or where we might be shortsighted or biased. We certainly don’t have to be open to persuasion, since to change one’s mind is to join “the dark side.”

Furthermore, seeing those with whom we differ as morally contemptible makes us bitter and less joyful. We become sneering, intolerant and bombastic. Like the obnoxious guy in Luke’s parable, we scorn everyone else. We delight in the callout and the pile-on. Assuming the worst about everyone else ultimately makes us become the worst versions of ourselves.

So before we disagree with others, we have to make a decision about who our ideological opponents are. Are they like us or wholly other? How should we think of people, especially people with whom we have deep differences?

For me, the answer to this question is rooted in two ideas. One is that every single one of us is, as described in the book of Genesis, made in the image of God. With this core identity comes indelible dignity and worth. In practice, this means that I must assume that people I interact with, even those with whom I disagree, often have things they love that are worth defending and perspectives that I can learn from.

The other idea that informs how I see people is that they are fallen. The idea of human depravity or sinfulness means that every person — including me — is myopic and limited, their thinking faulty and subject to deception and confusion. This should humble us all.

One way to repair our social discourse is to begin with the assumption that we are not wildly better or worse than anyone else. Each person who disagrees with me (and each who doesn’t) is, like me, a complex blend of insight, neurosis and sin, pure and impure motives, right on some things, wrong on others.

There are, of course, limits to this. Essays like this inevitably meet with a response of, “What about Hitler?” or “What about George Wallace?” Charity doesn’t consign us to relativism. There are clearly times when one side is entirely right and one side is entirely wrong.

But these kinds of clear moral lines are the exception in history. If we endow every issue with the moral clarity and urgency of the Holocaust or Jim Crow, we will not be able to adjudicate those many issues that are far more complex, where people of good faith can strongly disagree yet remain good neighbors. If we refuse this kind of good-faith argument, we cannot practice democracy. If our opponents are simply moral monsters, we will assume that they cannot be persuaded — only shamed, silenced or dominated.

Beyond that, if we refuse this kind of good-faith argument, humility becomes impossible. If our ideological opponents are equivalent to the vilest villains of history, then we, of course, are squarely on the side of the right and true. The Yale theologian Miroslav Volf said, “Humility is a signature virtue of the Christian faith. Joy is its signature emotion.” Humility, he says, births joy because it rescues us from endless recriminations and allows us to see goodness — in ourselves and in the world — as a gift to be received and celebrated. I’d add that it teaches us to find common humanity with one another. It’s what makes the religious person and the tax collector able to live as neighbors.

Thinking the best of the other will inevitably mean we sometimes think more highly of others than we should. We will assume their motives are purer than they actually are. But if we must err, this is the right way to err. It’s easy to think that when we consider the strongest argument and most charitable motivations of others we are doing them a favor. But we are actually doing ourselves a favor as well. Not only does dealing with steel men, as opposed to straw men, help our own arguments grow sharper, it also helps us continue to have a posture of learning, of growth, of curiosity, of compassion and of joy.

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/05/15/opin ... 778d3e6de3
Post Reply