Monday, November 16, 2020

The Dignity of Difference

In a Times obit ("Jonathan Sacks, the United Kingdom’s Former Chief Rabbi, Dies at 72,NYT, 11/9/20), the prominent religious figure is quoted thusly: “God has spoken to mankind in many languages: through Judaism to the Jews, Christianity to Christians and Islam to Muslims. No one has created a monopoly on spiritual truths, no one civilization encompasses all the spiritual, ethical and artistic expressions of mankind.” Sacks also wrote a books with titles like Universalizing Particularity and The Dignity of Difference: How to Avoid the Clash of Civilizations.” Even though he was an Orthodox Jew his opinions got him into trouble with more rigid members of his faith who believed that Jews were literally the chosen people. Plainly Sacks and the current president- elect Joseph Biden, who has said “I am running as a proud Democrat, but I will govern as an American president” share this unifying impulse. Biden’s tone lies is stark contrast to that of the current lame duck who has appealed to factionalism, divisiveness and the prejudices of his so-called base. Joe Biden will inherit a deeply divided country and congress. He, like the former chief rabbi, is already urging both an ethics and politics of inclusion.

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