The year 2001 began as the United Nations Year of Dialogue between Civilizations. By its end, the phrase that came most readily to mind was 'the clash of civilizations.' The tragedy of September 11 intensified the danger caused by religious differences around the world. As the politics of identity begin to replace the politics of ideology, can religion become a force for peace?
The Dignity of Difference is Rabbi Jonathan Sacks's radical proposal for reconciling hatreds. The first major statement by a Jewish leader on the ethics of globalization, it also marks a paradigm shift in the approach to religious coexistence. Sacks argues that we must do more than search for values common to all faiths; we must also reframe the way we see our differences.
|Edition description:||New Revised Edition|
|Product dimensions:||5.36(w) x 7.72(h) x 0.64(d)|
Table of Contents
1. Prologue2. Globalization and its Discontents3. The Dignity of Difference4. Control: The Imperative of Responsibility5. Contribution: The Moral Case for the Market Economy6. Compassion: The Idea of Tzedakah7. Creativity: The Imperative of Education8. Co-operation: Civil Society and its Institutions9. Conservation: Environmental Sustainability10. Conciliation: The Power of a Word to Change the World11. A Covenant of Hope
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Jonathan Sachs addresses the problems of the world today in a profound and moving way.On the one hand his message of tolerance and mutual respect might be scoffed at as simple and naive in a world where terrorism and violence are so prevalent. But Sachs must be seen first and above all as a great idealist,teaching what he believes can be an ameliorative message for mankind. It is difficult to resist his first premise and fundamental conclusion i.e.that all the religious faiths and civilizations of mankind must learn to respect and listen to each other. He talks about the conversation which he believes it is necessary for these religions to engage in. In such a conversation there would be true mutuallistening and learning.Above all there would be an absence of that kind of narrow triumphalist spirit which rules in the fundamentalistic circles and societies. Sachs sees a world increasingly tribalized and argues that extreme universalistic answers also do not suffice. As a very learned Jew he finds his path in answering the most difficult questions of our time through a reading of Biblical and other traditional Jewish sources. He stresses Judaism's concern for the particular , a concern which leads it to include the universal within in it. Speaking of the Biblical prophets he shows how they were the first to see beyond their own national loyalty to mankind as a whole . He talks of the Jewish traditional doctrine of 'tselem elokim' of man created in the image of God to emphasize that respecting each and every individual human being is the divine imperative. Greatly concerned by the increasing gap between rich and poor he not only lays out the empirical evidence which proves his contention, he sets up a moral guidepost based on the Jewish concept of tsedakah or social justice which would lead to a greater caring for the vast number of human beings who even today live without adequate nourishment, sanitation, opportunities for education. Sachs is passionate and persuasive in his call for a restoration of traditional moral values in encountering the social dilemnas engendered by globalization. He argues against a post -modern morally bankrupt perspective in favor of one in which loyalty and love inform human relationships. He reads the history of mankind as in one sense a history of revolutions and transformations in communications, and sees us in the computer - Internet Age having unprecedented prospects of providing levels of education for all of mankind . Sachs suggests that the dignity of mankind depends on the dignity of each and every one of us.And that so long as a vast portion of mankind is excluded from a meaningful world of material and spiritual development ,the fortunate remnant cannot rest easy. His is a broad and generous picture of mankind deeply informed by Jewish knowledge and wisdom. Oh that the world would move closer to what he dreams it to be.
In the first few paragraphs of this book, the author lays out a stirring vision of the world as a place either torn apart by emerging religious divisions or united by a new vision of finding the divine in diversity. A brave book, written by a man of faith, it gripped me from page to page. You cannot read it without being influenced by his profound world view, one which seemed to have jumped from his pen after the events of 9/11. It is a pity that it has enjoyed so much less popularity here than in its home country, England. It is my top non-fiction book choice of the year 2002.