As always on the first Sunday of the month, Society Leader Joe Chuman spoke this morning and his topic was, “Loving Our Neighbor and the World: Cosmopolitanism and the American Future”. Based in large measure on the concept of “cosmopolitanism” as described by New York Times “Ethicist” columnist Kwame Anthony Appia’s, (see this) Joe contrasted two moral viewpoints, one which emphasizes local allegiances, values and loyalties versus another which looks outward and is open to the beliefs and values of others who may be very different than us and even live in far off lands.
We all have multiple identities – in Joe’s case, for example, he’s Caucasian, Jewish yet with a Cuban father, an academic, a father, grandfather, etc. These identities may be totally unrelated to each other or may even in some ways conflict with each other, but they all connect him to others in ways both obvious and unexpected, fluid and static. All, however, must be respected.
In contrast we see today a political culture in America that reduces us to single issue citizens who stereotype others and are in turn stereotyped ourselves, perhaps by our religion or even region. He gave as a prominent example the 1960 Presidential campaign when John F. Kennedy had to explain almost at every event that while he was Catholic, he would not make his Presidency subservient to the Roman Catholic Church.
It is Joe’s hope that we can all adopt a more Cosmopolitan outlook, one which is more liberal and accepting in outlook towards the differences that so often divide us.