The current age is rife with polarization and radicalization of attitudes and world-views, leading to differences and hostility – which can get very harsh and vitriolic – between different social groups. At the same time, we are witnessing processes of globalization, and a shared understanding that we are all connected in global economics, in politics, in air quality and in our impact on the environment (the “global village” phenomenon). How can we understand the existence of both of these (supposedly) contradictory processes? More importantly, how can we address a group’s need for its own narrative truth and for national or ethnic uniqueness, while also promoting a multi-national, multi-faceted society, which sees differences as an expression of the endless diversity of humankind and of its beauty? Can we promote a reality where different groups and nationalities act together out of mutual understanding (at least partially), tolerance, empathy, respect, compassion and humility?
A pluralistic spirituality, based on a humanistic perspective which assumes that there is a sacred spark of humanity and goodness in all of us, has much potential for helping different groups connect and reconcile with one another, and for contributing to the co-existence of the various groups in our society, out of cooperation, mutual understanding, and social tolerance. This kind of spirituality also has the potential to help policy makers promote the teaching of values such as tolerance and peace, in light of the increasing trend of polarization in society in general and in Israeli society in particular.
The center will promote research and teaching of these topics, as well as research-based applications, in order to bridge the gaps between different people and groups and connect them in spite and perhaps also because of their differences.