Pruning but carefully

I don’t know why we’re persisting in these agrarian metaphors, but here goes another one. I think that on a fundamental level I agree with what Andrew is saying. The great difficulty is in the fact that most religious and cultural systems don’t really treat pluralism as a practical concern. It’s all about either being an oppressed minority or a conquering majority (sometimes both in one religion). There isn’t much about tolerating or accepting the sustained presence of the other as an equal.

What do we do? My understanding is that, despite you might have heard, moral relativism is pretty much passe in philosophy of ethics circles, and I’ll count that as a good thing. The tension in a plural society is between respecting what you are convinced is universally applicable and respecting that those around you have a different definition of the same. I think we have to identify what practices ought to be regarded as wrong regardless of tradition (female circumcision, sati, witch burning, I can go on, give me a culture/religion and I’ll find something).

But in criticizing various traditions and identities we must be careful that we don’t focus so much on the shortcomings of others that we do not consider the beams in our own eyes.