Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Dignity of Difference

In Sir Jonathan Sacks' book The Dignity of Difference: How to avoid the class of civilizations (2002) is a plea for the embrace of difference in the diversity of the universals of mankind. He reveals something about how we each hold individual and universal truths. To illustrate this he recalls the story of the creation of mankind in the Jewish tradition, as follows:

"When God was about to create Adam. the ministering angels split into contending groups. ... Mercy said, 'Let him be created, because he will do merciful deeds. Truth said, 'Let him not be created, for he will be full of falsehoods'. Righteousness said, 'Let him be created, for he will do righteous deeds.' Peace said, 'Let him not be created, for he will never cease quarrelling'. What did the Holy One, blessed be He, do? He took truth and threw it to the ground. The angels said, 'Sovereign of the universe, why do You do thus to Your own seal, truth? Let truth arise from the ground. Thus it is written, 'Let truth spring from the earth." (Psalm 85:12)

Reflecting on the interpretation offered by Rabbi Sacks it is suggested that God recognized that Man is not capable of the perfect truth that exists in heaven and to hold the pretense of such truth in human knowing will only create conflict, not peace. The proposal is that Man must live by 'a different standard of truth, one that is conscious of its limitations'. It is by these attempts at limited truths that heaven's own Truth is re-created 'from the earth'.

Perhaps that is where we find ourselves in the post-postmodern discourse, where an abundance of truths each reflect the universals of Man's existence and the diversity of our own interpretations. We each make truths to live by in a world of infinite things to know. Like sacks of valued gems each contributes to the others principally by the appreciation of their preciousness. Regardless of their accuracy by another's yardstick of worth, they also reveal something to us that is much more precious ...

... that each truth is the expression of humanity in understanding its own becoming.

No comments:

Post a Comment