Thursday, May 05, 2005

Pluralism

In current debates, the word "pluralism" is nearly sacrosanct. Nobody wants to be against it, unless you are strict fundamentalist, of either the religious or secularist variety. As norm of civil society, pluralism means a welcoming of all religious, philosophical and political groups, as long as they do not harm others. It also implies, at least in some contexts like the US, that no favoritism is shown to one of the groups. In much of modern Europe, however, there are still government supported, established religions like the Church of England. I believe it is very important that pluralism not be spun as a kind of indifferentism or agnostism about fundamental truths and issues. This would not be a healthy respect but really an enshrined apathy about great questions. While I do not aspire to coerce people by force or police power to accept fundamental truths about the goodness of human life, the care of the poor, protection of vulnerable, international law, I do not for a minute think these matters are just up for grabs. These issues (and many others) lead us into the freedom being in communion with the truth. In an authentic pluralism, my right to express and to argue for these truths would be respected and even protected by the whole society, including those who may not see truth in my convictions. That does not lead me to think its all a matter of opinion. I don't. And I believe in pluralism because it supports my rights and guards the rights of others. Above all it fosters respect and civil peace.