Beyond Diversity, Equality and Inclusion — making the case for Pluralism
Initial efforts around Diversity, Equality and Inclusion were aimed to overcome divisions-racial, ethnic, religious, etc., and to reduce and prevent prejudice and discrimination. But DEI, or D&I as its popularly known has its limitations.
Diversity is a fact- our world and the humans inhabiting it come from different backgrounds, cultures, with varying histories, languages, rituals, behaviors and perspectives. Including different (diverse) people means nothing if the expectation is for everyone to think and act the same. To mold their appearance and behaviors to best suit the dominant group, the one supposedly ‘including’ them. It becomes less about acceptance and more about assimilation-causing an inner conflict in the individual and having to choose between one identity vs. the other.
Mere diversity and superficial inclusion without a real encounter and relationship creates fissures in society. When society is under duress these tensions become apparent, even worse turning into hate, extremism and genocide. And across the world we are seeing the increased tensions within nation-states and between them.
On the other hand, in order to promote equality and overcome prejudice and discrimination sometimes the differences are downplayed, or downright discouraged. Not only does that not address equality, it ignores diversity-—of histories, narratives, cultures and perspectives.
Diversity is a given. Pluralism is not. Inclusion and Equality is an empty promise if it lacks acknowledgment and appreciation of differences.
Imagine if we were to appreciate the differences and thrive in the midst of diverse interactions and perspectives. Where power is dispersed, and no one groups has superiority over the other. That is Pluralism.
Pluralism is more than tolerance. It is not just about being accepting ‘other’s’ existence, but rather understanding differences and appreciating them. It is more than Diversity and Inclusion.
Pluralism is about collective resilience. In a pluralistic society, power is distributed, and cooperation and mutual consent is necessary. Where different and even competing visions of what a good society is, are permitted to coexist-even if some of them are offensive to others.
A Pluralist society is not just an answer to the prevention of xenophobia, intolerance and extremism, but also polarization. But pluralism is extremely hard and messy— it’s not a one-shot achievement, neither does it have a template. But its absence is the fundamental reason behind almost every conflict and friction in the world today.
And that is why there is a need to cultivate Pluralist citizens of the future—who embody pluralism-—appreciate diversity, value differences and thrive in harmony with various peoples, cultures, beliefs, ethnicities, races and perspectives. Who better to lead that charge of unlearning and learning and paving the future than the youth?
For that reason it is imperative that younger people are given the ability to foster the traits and skills required to build a Pluralist society and a truly Inclusive world.
Originally published at https://www.projectpluralist.com on February 17, 2020.