Pluralism is a path to a more peaceful society

Mawlana Hazar Imam sat down with Harvard University Professor Diana Eck for an on-stage conversation after delivering the Samuel L. and Elizabeth Jodidi Lecture at Harvard. Their dialogue explored many ways in which pluralism affects society and human development.

Abbas Mirshahi, a media technician at Harvard University, is originally from Iran. To him, pluralism is about “human equality where there is respect for ethnicity, language, religion and culture.” He feels that pluralism is significantly undervalued in many developing countries.

For medical student Rika Mallepally, who is also pursuing a Master’s in Public Health at the Ivy League school, “pluralism means respect, respect for beliefs, customs, and ways of life that are different from your own.”

Both were in attendance at the Samuel L. and Elizabeth Jodidi Lecture that was delivered yesterday by Mawlana Hazar Imam. Hazar Imam’s talk underscored the need for pluralism and the development of a cosmopolitan ethic as a means to counter-balance the divisiveness affecting societies around the world.

Following his speech, Hazar Imam took part in an on-stage conversation with Professor Diana Eck, who among her many distinguished roles serves as Director of Harvard’s Pluralism Project. Their dialogue explored many ways in which pluralism affects society and human development, including education — touching on women’s education in particular.

“I really enjoyed His Highness speaking about empowering women's education in developing areas,” says Mallepally, who says she was introduced to many of the issues of public health while “reading a book about educating women.”

“I try not to forget about the more human, compassionate side of health,” she says. “Pluralism is an acceptance that there are many right ways to act and live — an acceptance that leads to a more peaceful community.”

“This lecture was a great reminder of that sentiment.”