The Dignity of Difference!

by Rev. Uche Dr. Obodoechina

It was Jonathan Sacks, the great Hebrew Rabbi who first reflected on the theme of the 'Dignity of Difference' in a book of the same title as a plea on how best to avoid the clash of civilizations in the context of great extremisms of our time arising from 'ethnic tensions, civilizational clashes and the use of religious justifications for acts of terror' and hooliganism in our world today.

The Dignity of Difference has come on board to awaken us to the reality of our differences and our interconnectedness with one another. The 'Dignity of Difference' properly understood and applied intends to encourage us not to feel threatened and decimated, but enlarged and enriched by our differences.

Given our previous discussions on the dearth of oppositions in our practice of democracy in Enugu state and the overriding need for one, we would like in this reflection, in the light of the enlightening insight from Sacks, to reflect on the same subject highlighting further the need to acknowledge and preserve our differences for variety and taste in living.

Despite the fact of our common humanity, the one thing that is so glaring and unmistakeable is the fact of our differences. We are all sons and daughters of God, unique, equal in dignity and essence, yet different from one another.

We are unrepeatable; each one of us looks like himself or herself. No two persons are exactly alike in all things. There must be a little difference. Yet we share a lot of similarities with others. No one is an island. We have some basic commonalities.

Of course, we have also some common interests and values. But we are essentially different. We can share certain qualities, views, beliefs and ideologies with others but we are not like others. Our ways are different from the ways of others.

However our ways can meet with that of others, but they are different ways. In fact, our differences are so glaring that one cannot reasonably deny their existence. In fact, we are the same and yet different.

And so even in politics as in other aspects of our lives, we cannot remain without some basic differences. Even in the formation of different political parties and in the articulation of their party manifestos, the ideologies are usually different.

But the end is the service of the Common Good. There is therefore no one single political party in any multi-party system that is capable of meeting the entire needs of the entire populace in a given state.

There is always the need for other political parties to take up the other aspects of needs of the community in line with their party manifestos designed to serve the Common Good.

In fact, a single political party in any multi-party system is too limited in its vision and mission for the Common Good. And therefore, the path of political maturity and greatness is to intensify variety in the formation of several political parties with complementing ideologies and manifestoes.

It should not be the deliberate design of any reasonable government to sniff out of existence any traces of opposition. The penchant to do this is the bane of our democracy and it makes anarchy inevitable!



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