Lorsque jai ete invite a donner la conference de ce symposium LaFontaine-Baldwin, Ce fut pour moi un expansive honneur et jai eprouve beaucoup d’emotion. C’est egalement un expansive plaisir de se retrouver parmi de si nombreux amis tant anciens que nouveaux, ici a Toronto – et je suis particulierement heureux d’avoir ete presente Si chaleureusement Ce soir par Maines bons amis John Ralston Saul et Adrienne Clarkson. Je me sens profondement reconnaissant de cette tres aimable invitation et de votre genereux accueil.

When I foremost received this invitation, I was profoundly honored. But I was besides, possibly, a spot intimidated.

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I was impressed by the Lecture ‘s esteemed history, the parts of nine former Lectors, and the Lecture ‘s focal point on Canada ‘s civic civilization.

As you may cognize, my close ties with Canada go back about four decennaries, to the clip when many 1000s of Asiatic refugees from Uganda, including many Ismailis, were welcomed so liberally in this society. These ties have continued through the cooperation of our AgaA Khan Development Network ( AKDN ) with several Canadian Institutions, including the constitution, four old ages ago, of the Global Centre for Pluralism in Ottawa. I had the chance last hebdomad to chair a extremely productive meeting there of the Centre ‘s Board of Directors.

Earlier this twelvemonth, we besides celebrated here in Toronto the Foundation Ceremony for the AgaA Khan Museum and a new Ismaili Centre. So there are powerful chords of memory – from four decennaries ago, four old ages ago, and even four months ago, that tie me closely to Canada.

I was besides profoundly moved by Canada ‘s extraordinary gift to me of honorary citizenship.

I ever have felt at place when I come to Canada – but ne’er more so than in the aftermath of this award. And if I of all time felt any trepidation about accepting this eventide ‘s invitation, it has been significantly reduced by the fact that I can now claim – nevertheless modestly – to be a Canadian!

My thanks travel to all of you who are go toing this Lecture – or are watching and listening from elsewhere. It is a busy fall dark, I know.

For one thing, I believe the undefeated Maple Leafs are playing on telecasting at this really hr!

My Canadian friends like to state about a clip when the Stanley Cup playoffs were in full swing, and a gentleman took his place in the front row of the bowl – go forthing a place unfastened following to him. His neighbour asked why such an first-class place for such an of import event was unclaimed, and the adult male explained that his married woman usually sat there but that she had passed off. The neighbour expressed his understandings, but asked whether a member of the household, or another comparative or friend might hold been able to utilize the ticket. “ No ” , the adult male replied, “ they ‘re all at the funeral. ”

The topic of tonight ‘s Lecture, Pluralism, may non hold rather the emotional clasp of the Stanley Cup, but, for me, it has been a affair of huge importance.

One ground, no uncertainty, is that the Ismaili people have long shared in the experience of smaller groups everyplace – life in larger societies. In add-on, my womb-to-tomb involvement in development has focused my attending on the challenge of societal diverseness. My involvement in establishing the Global Centre for Pluralism reflected my sense that there was yet no establishment dedicated to the inquiry of diverseness in our universe, and that Canada ‘s national experience made it a natural place for this venture.

The Centre plans, of class, to prosecute adept research workers to assist in its work. Those programs remind me of a “ think-tank ” executive who found himself drifting aimlessly across the sky one twenty-four hours in a hot air balloon. ( I suspect he was the president! ) . As he hovered above he called down to a adult male below, “ Can you state me where I am? ” The adult male shouted back, giving him his longitude, latitude and height. “ Thankss, ” said the president, “ that ‘s interesting, but you must be a professor! ” “ Why do you state that? ” asked the adult male below. “ Well, ” the president responded, “ you have given me a batch of precise information, which I ‘m certain is technically right, but which is non of the faintest usage to me. ”

The adult male below replied, “ And you must be an executive. “ How did you cognize? ” asked the balloonist. “ Well, ” said the adult male, “ you do n’t cognize where you are – or where you ‘re traveling. You have risen to where you are on a batch of hot air. And you expect people beneath you to work out your jobs! ”

I trust that this narrative will NOT qualify the work of the Centre.

I would wish to speak with you this flushing about three things – foremost, the long history of pluralism in our universe, secondly, the acute intensification of that challenge in our clip, and 3rd, the way in front, how can we outdo respond to that challenge.

I. THE Past: Pluralism IN HISTORY

A. Early History

Let me get down by detecting that the challenge of pluralism is every bit old as human civilisation. History is filled with informative theoretical accounts of success and failure in get bying with human diverseness.

In looking at this history, I am traveling to make an unexpected thing for a alumnus of Harvard University – and that is to cite from a professor at that “ other ” New England school – a topographic point called Yale.

You may retrieve how President Kennedy, when he received an honorary grade from Yale, observed that he now had the best of both universes – a Yale grade – and a Harvard instruction!

Possibly I am seeking to harvest something of the same advantage tonight – mentioning my Harvard instruction, but citing a Yale Professor.

Amy Chua, of the Yale Law School, late published a persuasive warning about the diminution and autumn of history ‘s dominant imperiums. Their downward spiral, she says, stemmed from their embracing of intolerant and exclusionist attitudes.

The earlier success of these alleged “ hyper powers ” reflected their matter-of-fact, inclusive policies, pulling on the endowments of a broad array of peoples. She cites seven illustrations – from Ancient Persia to the modern United States, from Ancient Rome and the Tang Empire in China, to the Spanish, Dutch and British Empires. In each instance, pluralism was a critical variable.

You may cognize how, in ancient times, the common position was that nature had separated world into typical peoples. Aristotle was among the first to reject such arbitrary differentiations, and to gestate the human race as a individual whole. It is interesting to observe that his immature student, on whom he impressed this impression, turned out to be Alexander the Great – whose international imperium was animated by this new rational mentality. And, likewise, the Roman imperium thrived ab initio by widening the construct of Roman citizenship to distant, extremely disparate peoples.

But even as Europe fragmented after the Fall of Rome, another success narrative emerged in Egypt. I have a particular involvement in this narrative ; it concerns my ascendants, the Fatamid Caliphs, who founded the metropolis of Cairo 1000 old ages ago. They were themselves Shia in an overpoweringly dominant Sunni civilization, and for about two centuries they led a strong pluralistic society, welcoming a assortment of Islamic readings every bit good as people of Christian, Jewish and other backgrounds.

Similarly, on the Iberian Peninsula between the 8th and 16th Centuries, Muslim, Christian and Jewish civilizations interacted creatively in what was known as al-Andalus. Unusually, it lasted for most of seven centuries – a longer period than the clip that has since passed.

The attenuation of al-Andalus came as a new spirit of patriotism rose in Europe – propelled by what bookmans have called a sense of “ imagined community. ” Where local and tribal truenesss one time dominated, national designations came to boom.

As we know, these nationalist competitions finally exploded into universe war. The post-war outgrowth of the European Union has been a response to that history, much as regional groupings from South East Asia, to Central Asia, from Latin America to Eastern Africa, have been proving the possible for pan-national cooperation.

B. Canada and Pluralism

This brings me to the narrative of Canada – shaped so basically by two European civilizations. This double heritage was an evident failing at one point, but it was transformed into an tremendous strength – thanks to leaders like LaFontaine and Baldwin, every bit good as those who shaped the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in 1982, and so many others who contributed to a long, incremental procedure.

That procedure has been extended over clip to include a broader array of peoples, the First Peoples, and the Inuits, and a host of new immigrant groups. I am impressed by the fact that some 44 per centum of Canadians today are of NEITHER French nor British descent. I am told, in fact, that a typical Canadian citizenship ceremonial might now include people from two twelve different states.

To be certain, the vision I am depicting is sometimes questioned and still uncomplete, as I know Canadians insist on admiting. But it is however an plus of tremendous planetary value.

C. The Developing World

Let me turn now to the Less Developed World, where the challenge of diverseness is frequently the most hard job our Development Network faces.

This bequest was partially shaped by European influences. In the nineteenth century, for illustration, European economic competition was sometimes projected onto Middle Eastern divisions, including the Maronite confederation with France and the Druze confederation with Britain. Meanwhile, in Africa and elsewhere, Europe ‘s colonial policies frequently worked to stress division – both through the usage of divide-and rule-strategies, and through the infliction of arbitrary national boundaries, frequently disregarding tribal worlds.

In my position, the West continues at times to mis-read such complexnesss – including the huge diverseness within the Muslim universe. Often, excessively, the West ‘s development aid plans assume that diverseness is chiefly an urban phenomenon dismissing the huge size and complexness of rural countries. Yet, it is in the countryside that cultural divides can be most conflictual – as Rwanda and Afghanistan have demonstrated – and where effectual development could assist preempt detonation.

I remember a visit I made about half a century ago – in 1973 – to Mindanao, the one portion of the Philippine Islands that was ne’er ruled by Spain. It is home to a important Islamic minority, and I was struck even so by how spiritual differentiations were mirrored in economic disparities.

Since that clip, in predictable ways – economic unfairness and cultural intuition have fueled one another in Mindanao. The predicament is how to interrupt the rhythm, although the Filipino Government is now turn toing the state of affairs. But when history allows such state of affairss to maturate, they become progressively hard to bring around.

The co-dependent nature of economic want and cultural diverseness is apparent throughout most of Asia and Africa. And most of these states are ill-prepared for such challenges. The legitimacy of pluralist values, which is portion of the societal mind in states like Canada, or in Portugal, where so many Ismailis now live, is frequently absent in the Developing World.

I think peculiarly, now, of Africa. The largest state at that place, Nigeria, comprises some 250 cultural groups, frequently in struggle. In this instance, huge oil militias – one time a ground for hope – have become a beginning of division. One wonders what might go on in other such topographic points, in Afghanistan, for illustration, if its immense undersoil wealth should go an economic driver.

The lesson: economic advantage can sometimes ease societal tensenesss, but societal and cultural cleavage can sabotage economic promise.

D. Central Asia

Cardinal Asia besides deserves our attending tonight. Our Network ‘s activity at that place includes the University of Central Asia, founded ten old ages ago, with campuses now in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan.

You will remember the eruption of inter-ethnic force in Kyrgyzstan last June – 1000s died, 100s of 1000s were made homeless. And yet, this high mountain part had traditionally been a topographic point of lively cultural interchange – traveling back to the clip of the Silk Route, one of history ‘s first planetary connecting links.

The force that raged between the Kyrgyz and Uzbek communities had tangled roots. The Kyrgyz, traditionally nomads, were forced in the last century to settle on Soviet corporate farms – joined by new Russian colonists. Tensions mounted, particularly with the more settled Uzbeks, and a rough economic system compounded the hurt.

Kyrgyzstan – along with Tajikistan – is one of the two poorest states to emerge from the former Soviet Union. But economic sciences entirely do non account for its calamities. Perceivers had long noted the absence of cross-cultural contact in Kyrgyzstan, the failing of institutional life – both at the authorities degree and in the kingdom of civil society – and a neglecting educational system.

Another component in the equation was international indifference – so, about entire international ignorance about Central Asia.

The consequence was a society ready to detonate at the touch of a bantam flicker. How that flicker was first struck has been much debated. But the cardinal inquiries concern the parlous stipulations for force, and whether they might better hold been identified – and addressed.

Meanwhile, a spirit of hope persists, even in this troubled scene. Shortly after the force, a public referendum approved constitutional reforms which could open a new epoch of advancement.

E. Other Developing World Examples

The referendum in Kyrgyzstan this summer was followed one month subsequently by a similar referendum in Kenya. I spent a portion of my childhood in Kenya and our Network is really active at that place. So we watched with great unhappiness as Kenya descended into tribal warfare following the disputed election of 2007. In Kenya ‘s instance, the establishments of civil society took a lead function in turn toing the crisis. One consequence was the public indorsement this past August of a new fundamental law – by a two to one ratio. Like the reforms in Kyrgyzstan, it includes a dramatic scattering of national and presidential power.

We are reminded in such minutes that hope can sometimes turn out of devastation. I think of other topographic points in Africa, like Mozambique, which besides found a way to greater stableness after a long period of warfare.

I think, excessively, of Indonesia, which emerged from its colonial experience as a radically fragmented province – both ethnically and geographically. Its response included a nationally oriented educational system – learning a shared national linguistic communication. But we must be careful in pulling decisions. Other efforts to further a individual linguistic communication as a consolidative resource – Urdu, for illustration, or Swahili, or Bangla, have sometimes worked to divide peoples from the chief currents of planetary advancement.

The inquiry of linguistic communication is really sensitive, as Canadians good cognize. And one of the cardinal truths about pluralism is that what works in one scene may work otherwise in others.

Afghanistan is a instance in point. In contrast with topographic points where inflexible patriotism can be a job, Afghanistan suffers from the opposite status – an inability to conceive of, allow entirely make, a wide sense of nationhood.

One of the premier lessons of history, antediluvian and recent, is that one size does non suit all.

II. THE Present: Intensification AND URGENCY

Let me travel now to my 2nd major subject, the present intensification of the pluralism challenge – and the sense of urgency that comes with it.

Clearly, the challenges posed by diverseness are mounting. New engineerings mean that people mix and mingle more than of all time before. Massive human migrations are portion of the narrative – two-thirds of recent population growing in the 30 largest OECD states has resulted from extremely diverse migrations. Meanwhile, communications engineering means that even those who live on the other side of the universe are as near to us as those who live on the other side of the street.

The assortment of the universe is non merely more available, it is about ineluctable. Human difference is more proximate – and more intense. What was one time beyond our position is now at our side – and, so, to utilize the popular look, “ in our face. ”

About everything now seems to “ flux ” globally – people and images, money and recognition, goods and services, bugs and viruses, pollution and armaments, offense and panic. But allow us retrieve, excessively, that constructive urges can besides flux more readily, as they do when international organisations join custodies across spliting lines.

The challenge of diverseness is now a planetary challenge – and how we address it will hold planetary effects.

Economic emphasis and new environmental breakabilities have farther intensified the troubles, and so has the attenuation of the bi-polar political order. It was one time said that the terminal of the Cold War meant “ the terminal of history. ” In fact, merely the contrary was true. History resumed in earnest in the 1990 ‘s – as old tribal passions resurfaced.

Meanwhile, the manner we communicate with one another has been revolutionized. But more communicating has non meant more cooperation. More information has besides meant more MIS-information – more superficial snapshots, more sherds of isolated information taken out of context. And it has besides meant more wilful DIS-information – non merely differences of sentiment, but deformations of fact. A wide-open cyberspace allows dissentious information to go as far and every bit fast as dependable information. There are virtually no barriers to entry – and anyone – responsible or irresponsible – can play the game.

New digital engineerings mean more entree, but less answerability.

The coming of the cyberspace and the ubiquity of nomadic telephone seem to assure so much! But so, one time, did telecasting and wireless – and the telegraph before that – and, even earlier, the innovation of the printing imperativeness. Yet each of these discoveries, while linking so many, was besides used to widen cultural gulfs.

Technologies, after all, are simply instruments – they can be used for good or ill. How we use them will depend – in every age and in every civilization – non on what sits on our desktops, but on what is in our caputs – and in our Black Marias.

It has ne’er been easy for people to populate together – I am non one who believes in some natural, human temperament to welcome the alien. Wiping off superficial misinterpretations will non by itself let a self-generated spirit of adjustment to bloom.

As Adrienne Clarkson said at this talk in 2007, we can non number on the power of “ love ” to work out our jobs – every bit of import as that quality is. A portion of our challenge, as she said, is larning to populate and work with people we may non peculiarly like!

To make so will necessitate conjunct, calculated attempts to construct societal establishments and cultural wonts which take history of difference, which see diverseness as an chance instead than a load.

I have mentioned both societal establishments and cultural wonts – each dimension is critical. In a sense, one concerns the hardware and one concerns the package of the pluralism experience.


This brings me to my 3rd and concluding subject this eventide, the way in front – how we might break predict and prevent dislocations, and promote advancement.

A. Institutional Concerns

On the institutional degree, we can get down by looking at the constructions of public administration.

Let me warn, foremost, against a naA?ve hope that merely progressing the construct of democracy will accomplish our ends. Not so. The high count of failed democracies – including some 40 per centum of the member provinces of the United Nations – should disabuse us of this impression.

Excessively frequently, democracy is understood to be merely about elections – fleeting bulks. But effectual administration is much more than that. What happens before and after elections? How are picks framed and explained? How is decision-making shared? – so that leaders of different backgrounds can interactively regulate — instead than little coteries rule dictatorially.

We must travel beyond the simple word “ democracy ” if we are to construct a model for effectual pluralism.

This will intend composing more effectual fundamental laws – informed by more sophisticated apprehensions of comparative political systems. It will intend explicating those agreements more adequately – and adjusting and amending them. It will intend separating and equilibrating powers, structuring multi-tiered – and frequently asymmetrical – systems of federalism, and specifying rights and freedoms – as Canada has learned to make. I would besides indicate here to the experience of the largest democracy, India, which defines specific Constitutional rights for eight typical cultural groups, an attack which has been echoed in Malaysia. And we have seen how Kenya and Kyrgyzstan are traveling now to deconcentrate power.

All of these institutional agreements can assist decide political dead end, construct societal coherency and avoid the dangers of “ victors take all. ” They can supply multiple levers of societal influence, leting persons of every background to experience that they have “ a interest in society ” – that they can act upon the forces that shape their lives.

How we define citizenship is a cardinal factor in this narrative – but one that is freshly in difference. Even the well-established construct that citizenship belongs to everyone who is born on national dirt has been questioned late in parts of Europe and the United States – as attitudes to in-migration intensify.

Independent judicial and educational systems are besides indispensable to effectual pluralism, and so are non-governmental agents of influence – the establishments of civil society. As we have seen, Kenya presents a positive instance survey in this respect, while civil society in Kyrgyzstan was mostly marginalized during its crisis.

Independent intelligence media are another cardinal component. This is why our Network has been involved for 50 old ages in the media of East Africa, and why the AgaA Khan University is be aftering to make there a new Graduate School of Media and Communications.

The value of independent media was summarized late by a seasoned Ghanaian journalist, Kwane Karikari, who wrote of their

“ aˆ¦remarkable parts to peaceful and crystalline elections in Benin, Cape Verde, Ghana, Mali, Namibia, South Africa and Zambia ; to post-conflict passages aˆ¦ in Liberia, Mozambique and Sierra Leone ; and to prolonging constitutional regulation aˆ¦ in Guinea, Kenya and Nigeria. ”

Finally, allow me stress that healthy establishments will tap the widest possible scope of energies and penetrations. They will optimise each society ‘s meritocratic potency, so that chance will honor competency, from whomever and wherever it may come -independent of birth or wealth or divinity or physical power.


But institutional reforms will hold enduring intending merely when there is a societal mentality to prolong them.

There is a profound mutual relationship between institutional and cultural variables. How we think shapes our establishments. And so our establishments shape us.

How we see the yesteryear is an of import portion of this mentality.

A sense of historic individuality can vastly enrich our lives. But we besides know how nearsighted committednesss to “ individuality ” can turn toxicant when they are dominated by bad memories, steeped in grudge and bitterness.

The marginalisation of peoples can so go a malignant procedure, as people define themselves by what they are against. The inquiry of “ Who am I? ” is rapidly transformed into “ Who is my enemy. ”

Some would turn to this job through a wilful act of historical memory loss – but stamp downing animus can frequently bring forth future detonations.

In Kenya, national history is mostly losing from the public schools. And, in the absence of shared history, divided communities feed on their ain disconnected memories of inter-tribal wrongs.

On the other manus, the value of facing memory prevarications in katharsis, an emotional healing procedure. As we know, the Truth and Reconciliation Process has helped South Africans address deep societal divisions, as has Chile ‘s Museum of Memory and Human Rights in Santiago.

As societies come to believe in pluralistic ways, I believe they can larn another lesson from the Canadian experience, the importance of defying both assimilation and homogenisation -the subordination and dilution of minority civilizations on the one manus, or an effort to make some new, surpassing blend of individualities, on the other.

What the Canadian experience suggests to me is that individuality itself can be pluralistic. Honoring one ‘s ain individuality need non intend rejecting others. One can encompass an cultural or spiritual heritage, while besides sharing a sense of national or regional pride. To mention a timely illustration, I believe one can populate creatively and purposefully as both a devoted Muslim and a committed European.

To confirm a peculiar individuality is a cardinal human right, what some have called “ the right to be heard. ”

But the right to be heard implies an duty to listen – and, beyond that, a proactive duty to detect and to larn.

Surely, one of the most of import trials of moral leading is whether our leaders are working to widen divisions – or to bridge them.

When we talk about diverseness, we frequently use the metaphor of accomplishing societal “ harmoniousness. ” But possibly we might besides use an extra musical comparing – a fitting image as we meet tonight in this distinguished musical scene. We might speak non merely about the ideal of “ harmoniousness ” – the sounding of a individual chord – but besides about “ counterpoint. ” In counterpoint, each voice follows a separate musical line, but ever as portion of a individual work of art, with a sense both of independency and belonging.

Let me add one further idea. I believe that the challenge of pluralism is ne’er wholly met. Pluralism is a procedure and non a merchandise. It is a outlook, a manner of looking at a diverse and altering universe.

A pluralistic environment is a kaleidoscope that history shingles every twenty-four hours.

Reacting to pluralism is an exercising in changeless re-adaptation. Identities are non fixed in rock. What we imagine our communities to be must besides germinate with the tides of history.

As we think about pluralism, we should be unfastened to the fact that there may be a assortment of “ best patterns, ” a “ diverseness of diversenesss, ” and a “ pluralism of pluralisms. ”

In amount, what we must seek and portion is what I have called “ a cosmopolite moral principle, ” a preparedness to accept the complexness of human society. It is an ethic which balances rights and responsibilities. It is an ethic for all peoples.

It will non surprise you to hold me state that such an ethic can turn with tremendous power out of the religious dimensions of our lives. In admiting the enormousness of The Divine, we will besides come to admit our human restrictions, the uncomplete nature of human apprehension.

In that visible radiation, the astonishing diverseness of Creation itself can be seen as a great gift to us – non a cause for anxiousness but a beginning of delectation. Even the diverseness of our spiritual readings can be greeted as something to portion with one another – instead than something to fear.

In this spirit of humbleness and cordial reception – the alien will be welcomed and respected, instead than subdued – or ignored.

In the Holy Quran we read these words: “ O world! Be careful of your responsibility to your Lord Who created you from a individual psyche aˆ¦ [ and ] joined your Black Marias in love, so that by His grace ye became brethren. ”

As we strive for this ideal, we will acknowledge that “ the other ” is both “ present ” and “ different. ” And we will be able to appreciate this presence – and this difference – as gifts that can enrich our lives.

Let me reason by stressing one time once more the urgency of this challenge. We are at a peculiarly complex minute in human history. The challenges of diverseness are scaring for many people, in societies all around the universe. But diverseness besides has the capacity to animate.

The mission of the Global Centre for Pluralism is to look closely at these challenges – and to believe difficult about them. This will be demanding work. But as we go frontward, we hope we can spot more predictably and preempt more efficaciously those conditions which lead to conflict among peoples. And we besides hope that we can progress those establishments and those mentalities which foster constructive battle.

The universe we seek is non a universe where difference is erased, but where difference can be a powerful force for good, assisting us to manner a new sense of cooperation and coherency in our universe, and to construct together a better life for all.

Thank you really much.

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