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Op Ed Keith Rosenberg June 2005

We humans seem to want people like ourselves around to associate with - a kind of village mentality and one that many organizations take advantage of. It is seductive to think that if everyone thinks, fantasizes, and believes the same that all problems will go away. The assumption is that having a single creed in the global sense of the word will create peace and stability. This works to the advantage of extremists who find comfort around their own kind. In this way militants find one another, feed on their circular thinking in mutual support, and come to extreme views in their zeal to "convert" everyone else. The Nazis created a creed based on race and made no bones about it. The communists have a socioeconomic creed that only works if backed by dictatorship. In Northern Ireland, the IRA wants Catholic rule, just as the Republicans want Protestant governance. The Taliban wanted its extreme creed for the entire planet. The KKK less than a century ago was still hanging black people at will in the name of white supremacy. Violence, hate and terror are their primary methods for "converting the infidels." Never mind that that is an oxymoron.

The United States is in the midst of creating a pluralist society. This started as much by accident as by design, but it is now recognized that that is what we are doing. We have come a long way but it is not yet written that we will surely succeed. There have been a few pluralist societies in the past, but most eventually came to naught. The Roman Empire, for all of its flaws and practice of slavery, was probably the most pluralistic society of its time. Anyone could become a Roman with a little luck. Even slaves did occasionally. The British Empire was going towards pluralism, but being based on force, it came apart. The remnant UK is making strides towards Pluralism. Israel is more pluralistic than its neighbors which is one more bone of contention that the Islamic Jihad and Hamas have with Israel.

The most striking example of a nation that is based on the Western economic and political model but does NOT have a pluralist society is Japan. In this case, we see a society on the brink of economic ruin if their ingrained concepts of how to do things prevents them from following the lead of their forward looking leader. The Japanese culture is not religion based, but it has all the trappings of an extremist group in their economic belief system.

Globalization is threatening to monistic societies; it brings pluralism in thoughts, beliefs and actions. Nevertheless, pluralistic societies are the modern models for success. Nations that provide equality of opportunity to all their citizens regardless of race, religion, or birthright are the nations that progress economically, in the arts and letters, and in science and technology as well. Freedom goes with pluralism and freedom is the greatest motivator humankind has yet discovered.


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