Monday, March 20, 2006

a slightly new opinion on eck

after completing Diana Eck's book, i have a slightly new outlook on her. After the first 4 chapters or so, i saw the book going nowhere, simply being an extension her pluralism paper we read earlier. her chapters on hinduism and buddhism and islam took forever to read as all it did was point out what existed, what was out there and gave no opinions or suggestions on the topics. But after completing the book, i found out her goal from these chapters was to give a long, extremely long, background and knowledge of what exists in the United States today. I thought this was simply a longer version of her pluralism project paper that we read earlier. However, then her chapter "afraid of ourselves" changed my opinion. Her goal started to unfold a bit and i began to see some of her own opinions coming out for the first time in all of her readings. I saw her telling of the problems existed because of these various religious foundations in the United States. She told of how we are scared of difference. We are scared of change. We are a nation founded on difference, we are the United States of America. However, we fear not knowing about other religions and what that may mean for society. We fear change of what we have known our whole lives. We stereotype those different from us and label them. The result of this is hate crimes and violence. Her tone suggested this saddened her. That we built such a glorious nation, so accepting and diverse on the outside of various religions and their institutions, but deep down on the inside, it frightens us and we react in an immature manner.

Her "bridge building" chapter was a chapter offering hope for the future. She outlies a plan, her opinion of a plan, in order that we may change these prejudices and stereotypes. Talking and negotiating and finding what is best for the whole community is a prime example of one of her solutions. Acceptance and knowledge allows us to become a new America, an accepting America. She suggests building upon our differences instead of ignoring them and acting upon them harshly. We cannot ignore our differences, but we need to build bridges so that we can connect on our differences. This is the only hope that we have for developing as a nation and fulfilling our title as the land of hope. She focuses on our differences and how we need these differences to be acknowledged in order to build. And she is right.

However, I feel education is the most important way to go about this. If our children are educated, and parents are educated as well, then the youth will not learn hatred and violence. It's like the 5 year old that doesn't know shes playing house with a black boy, she thinks she's playing house with a 5 year old boy. We need to get to that stage, and I feel the best way is through education. If some of the concepts are not taught, such as that there are people different from us and that that is ok, our nation cannot grow and will not be accepting. This is the best foundation I can come up with to build the sturdiest bridge possible. And my hats off to Eck, for giving an opinion of her own. A new found respect from me, slightly. I think I could conclude better than her, although I believe we are suggesting solutions along the same lines.

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