In an era stricken by religious grievance and marked with the bloodstains of the victims of holy wars, we need to come to the realization that our intolerance of one another’s faiths is killing us. It is not only religious zealotries that are the source for global strife, but it does seem to be the greatest catalyst. The problem is intolerance; people hating people for being different.
We live in a global community. Even locally one can see this is true. There are people of all different nationalities and cultural heritages here in Minnesota and in thousands of other cities across America. Consider the waves of immigration to our great nation. The populations of our cities and states are changing. We must come to terms with our cultural and religious differences for the sake of the health of our society. We must begin to see diversity as a virtue, something to be encouraged rather than shunned.
In order to achieve harmony in our society we ought to emphasize diversity – rather than homogeneity – and revel in our differences. Harmony isn’t harmony if there is only one note being uttered. Variety is not only the spice of life, but it is of the utmost importance in evolving into a healthy society and a healthy species. It is our differences that can make us stronger.
Dr. Indira Junghare, a professor in the College of Liberal Arts at the University, has made her goal social health and harmony through respect for diversity. She has gathered a group of students around her in this quest, armed with her “philosophy of form” and letters of support from many student organizations at the University, professors at the University of St. Thomas, Twin Cities Public Television, state Rep. Mindy Greiling, and state Sen. John Marty. Junghare and her compatriots hope to bring an
Institute of Diversity, Ethics and Peace into existence at the University.
At the heart of this effort is a belief in the necessity to do good for the world in this lifetime, and the idea that Junghare’s “philosophy of form” has a chance to be something that can aid social change. The “philosophy of form” is based on these five “realities”:
Diversity is the very nature of existence (the universe is marked by difference); every existence is uniquely different; every existence has a purpose and function that contributes to the making of the universe; there is a symbiotic relationship (interdependence) between different forms of existence; and all different forms should be respected, appreciated and admired.
What is appealing about this philosophy is that it is nondenominational and is not religious in any way. It does not exclude, but rather is a tour de force of inclusion. This inclusiveness extends beyond the realms of human diversity and into the biodiversity of all of the flora and fauna on our beautiful planet. The idea here is that if we can adopt a philosophy that embraces all forms of humanity and of nature – while maintaining our own cultural differences – the change in attitude will contribute to the formation of a system of universal ethics, which ultimately will lead to peace at all levels: personal, sociopolitical and global.
If we can respect and value the roles of each particular entity that we encounter in our daily lives, then we can create greater harmony in the world on a universal level.
Do you see yourself as a unique entity with something to give to the world? Can you imagine your neighbor as the same? Is it so hard to imagine a world with respect and admiration for diversity, a world where ethics are intuitive and spring from appreciation for the variety and uniqueness of all beings, a world working toward peace in each embracing of difference? If you can visualize this, please visit www.diversityethicspeace.org or write a letter to University President Bob Bruininks about Junghare’s mission of global, social health and the establishment of an Institute for Diversity, Ethics and Peace at the University. In the meantime, cultivate a respect for the various beauties of the world in your daily life. Together we can stop the wars of intolerance, both globally and locally.
Laura Pike is a University student. Please send comments to [email protected]