Editor: I’m not sure that there is any place on earth as diverse as our nation — the givens are our size, our topography, our many climates and our religious, racial and ethnic identities. Then there are our society-driven differences in economic, social, political and educational status. It’s no wonder that we seem “deranged” at times as opposed to being arranged — united.

That diversity trademark is, to a point, our greatest asset — as long as we live civilly if not lovingly with those different from us in any of the above areas. I don’t know why they called our Civil War civil— it is an oxymoron to begin with. Surely the event was one of the bloodiest and most inhumane in our history. The Irish author and peacemaker, Padraig O’Malley, when writing to describe what are euphemistically called “the troubles” in Ireland, had the wisdom to name his book on the subject, “The Uncivil Wars.”
As Presidents Day weekend approaches, let’s disagree and debate more civilly, appreciating the fact that our precious rights sometimes impinge on the precious rights of others and that living in this highly diverse society requires a special will and special skills: the will to enjoy our particularity in the midst of the particularities of others — and the skills to navigate this perplexing and yet exhilarating society —bearing in mind that it has greater challenges and more promise than a homogeneous environment could conceivably have.

People of all faiths and no particular faith can pay due respect to what some have termed civil religion in which, according to sociologist Robert Bellah, “Americans embrace certain beliefs, values, holidays and rituals that are parallel to or independent of their chosen religion.” Is this a space that we can all occupy?

The Times-Tribune

Publication Date: February 17, 2012 

Civility the goal in diverse nation
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