Pluralism’s Annoying Joy

By Graham Glover

Since when did we become a people that abhor pluralism?

Everywhere I turn these days people are angry at those who don’t agree with them. They are frustrated when others don’t think or act like them. If someone else’s worldview deviates from theirs, then the other person is a problem to society.

This isn’t a liberal or conservative thing. Nor is it a religious or agnostic thing. It’s an everyone, in everything, thing.

Seriously, is there no room for disagreement anymore? Is everyone else’s opinion wrong? Do we not find goodness in pluralism? Isn’t the marketplace of ideas, where competing narratives lobby for our adherence, a hallmark of what makes a free society succeed? It is beyond comprehension how the most free society in the world has gotten to the point where we want to literally silence those who disagree with us.

This is a tragic mark on us – as a people, a nation, and a culture.

Again, I don’t blame any particular group or a certain ideology for perpetuating this turn from pluralism. All sides have their fair share of blame in this one. But one thing is crystal clear: we aren’t big fans of a society with different, and oftentimes, divergent, ways of thinking. It’s our way or the wrong way.

In our world, diversity has become an evil word (and don’t get on your high horse here my liberal friends – you can no longer claim the authority of being diversity sympathizers). Across the board, we’re simply an intolerant people who do not actively engage those who differ from us. Dialogue is our new four-letter word and to embrace it – to enjoy debate and interaction with those who embrace different political, religious, or cultural views from us is now the unpardonable sin, a reality that is equally sad and absurd.

I get it, pluralism can be annoying, especially when people advocate things that are diametrically opposed to everything we stand for. It’s not always easy to advocate for the freedom and ability of others to champion causes that I find morally repugnant, politically insane, or theologically false. I don’t want these systems of thought to succeed. Oftentimes, I think they contribute greatly to the degradation of society and do their best to tear apart the foundations of our institutions and our people. But to silence them, to rid them from society, is even more dangerous. It is the beginning of tyranny in the most horrific sense of the word

Which is why pluralism, even if annoying, is really a joy to behold. In it, we not only have to articulate what we believe, but we are forced to constantly defend why we believe it. We can’t simply rest on what we were told to believe, we have to learn how to think for ourselves, becoming capable of making a case for why we believe these things we do. This is joy. For it is the hallmark of the wise and learned man. It is what true pluralism produces, and why we should all embrace it.

6 thoughts on “Pluralism’s Annoying Joy

  1. Civil, but robust and intellectually well-grounded dialogue is what we lack. Thank you for your thoughts, Graham. I hope all is well with you. I have retired from Chaplaincy, but continue to preach in a civilian church near an Army post.

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    1. “Civil, but robust and intellectually well-grounded dialogue is what we lack”. I couldn’t agree more. Thanks for chiming in!

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  2. I enjoyed your post.

    I don’t understand why it is so difficult for people to have rational conversations about certain issues. It seems a lot of people start getting angry as soon as you try to point out a different point of view.

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    1. Lynn, you’re absolutely right. The problem is that people are not interested in having conversations. But this is not the way a democratic republic works. It’s not the way a pluralistic society operates.

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  3. In my experience, it’s generally the people who tout “diversity” the most who are the least open to embracing it.

    Generally speaking, those who have turned “diversity” into an idol are unwilling to hear from people who believe that some behaviors may be immoral.

    To say that homosexuality is a sin, does not mean that I hate homosexuals. To say that Western Culture has value and that many aspects of it ought to be retained and advocated for does not mean that I am a racist and hate anyone with a different skin pigmentation. To say that a man remains a man regardless of what he calls himself does not mean that I hate men who call themselves women, it just means that I disagree with the idea that gender is fluid or on a spectrum. To say that capitalism is a superior economic system to socialism does not mean that I hate the poor and disadvantaged.

    Those who tout diversity are willing to embrace anyone who is willing to be a part of their coalition. So long as you do not make any judgments regarding sin, so long as you do not promote a Biblical morality, so long as you do not state any preference for Western Civilization and its values, then you are in.

    There is a freedom in those circles to express a difference of opinion, but only within excepted standards of orthodoxy. As the movement is generally “progressive,” your values and inclusiveness must continually evolve, and those who find themselves behind the curve must either do public penance, or face shaming and loud protestation.

    Those on the right are finally starting to find their testicles and are starting to push back. Hence the election of Donald Trump. Unfortunately, this has also led to the development of such groups as the Alt-Right. In a sense, you can’t blame them for some of their extreme positions. White, conservative males have been pushed into a corner for years. Leaders of the Conservative movement have been too afraid to be called “racist” that they’ve refused to stick up for what they believe is right. Accusations of racism or sexism have been the tools of the Left for the last 20 years, and they’ve successfully controlled public discourse and silenced their opponents through ad hominem attacks.

    The scary thing is that in the absence of strong Conservative leadership, many young men who otherwise would be attracted to the Conservative movement have now aligned themselves with frightening and reactionary groups. I blame the left for the shameless race pedaling, and I blame the right for their cowardice and lack of a spine.

    Let’s all stop mincing words and start stating what we believe to be true, regardless of who is going to attack us. Let’s take the advice of Leviticus 19 and reason frankly with our neighbor, rather than hating him in our hearts. It takes a bit more courage, but I think that’s the example our Savior gave us in his interactions with his opponents. He never hated them in his heart, but boy did he reason frankly with them! They hated him as a result, and maybe we shouldn’t expect any different, but we should have the courage to simply state what we believe to be true, and what we believe to be false, without pandering or tip-toeing around the issues.

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    1. Ken, I certainly don’t want to mince words or deter anyone from stating what they believe to be true. Ultimately, I think truth has and will continue to win out. But let’s not be afraid of those who disagree with us espousing their opinion. Their beliefs, even when wrong, shouldn’t scare us. Like I said, the truth will reign. We just need to get better at articulating how and why!

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