Confident pluralism

In the piece, “Across the Great Divides: Why America Needs a More Confident Pluralism,” John Inazu describes a real example of individuals demonstrating their ability to set aside their differences and work together, in the third paragraph of the section titled “Enacting Confident Pluralism.” It stood out to me because I don’t hear about or recall any similar stories from my personal experiences living in the community. I find it compelling that these great collaborations result directly from the decisions made by individuals reflecting on their own values and morals, and finding it in themselves to compromise despite what their other disagreements may be. It rings truer the saying: if you want to change the world, you have to start with yourself. It sounds like a difficult possibility for two unlikely groups or individuals to compromise on one goal, but on the individual level, it only takes an initiative and a willingness for one person to try.

In “Mending Wall” by Robert Frost, the narrator meets with his neighbor to repair the wall between their properties that has shifted out of place by incidental and natural events. He ponders aloud the question of why they keep up the tradition of building up a wall, since there is no practical use for it. The neighbor simply continues to reply with the adage, “Good fences make good neighbours.” The neighbor’s response causes me to imagine the absolute statements people tend to make that sound believable and convincing because of how absolute they sound. I can’t help but think when I sense one is being made that their absoluteness comes from ignorance, because it would explain being able to hold an assumption about a situation or idea that one lacks experience in, for several years and never straying far from that belief. It draws my suspicion when one immediately forms a judgement on the grounds of the observations they’ve made or things they’ve been told that only scratch the surface, but carry a certain connotation.

I found the poem “Enemies” by Wendell Berry to resonate with me the most. The last stanza stuck out to me because it draws the point that you only have yourself to hold accountable when you feel like you have unresolved feelings about someone who misunderstood or judged you. The longer you take to forgive, the harder it can be as you struggle to make sense of your situations and your social interactions–you can be stuck in an endless cycle of self-doubt and self-pity when you tend to always give others the benefit of the doubt and constantly put others’ feelings and priorities above your own. The other alternative path you may go down, as the poem points out, is you can begin to hate them–to see others who have wounded you as monsters. If you forgive them, you can be at peace. Different ways of seeing the world, or different ways of interacting with certain personalities will continue to exist in different people. Forgiving and moving on to find a way of life that matches you and people who match your personality is the way to move forward.

In the On Being podcast, “How To Live Beyond This Election,” Dr. Trethewey stated (sixty-third interjection) that “Because there is a part of me, I suppose, that wants to believe that there is a kind of justice that could treat everyone right. That could treat everyone equally the way that they deserve.” She believes that in the long way down the road, it is possible to achieve a kind of justice that everyone can live in concordance with. I found it curious in a confusing sort of way that Dr. Trethewey and Dr. Patel had such different opinions about the meaning of “justice.” Dr. Patel laid down his suggestion of serving justice that was very similar to the idea of Confident Pluralism. I think Dr. Trethewey was interpreting the possibility or meaning of justice from the perspective of a poet, and Dr. Patel interpreted the meaning of justice in a more political and practical manner in the field he has more experience in, coming from an activist background. I couldn’t see much overlap between what they envisioned, so possibly the term was applied in two entirely different ways of thinking.


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