Living With The Other

Love exceeds "tolerance" and "diversity" when it comes to living with others, says David Smith.

“There’s a risk that this tips over into naiveté. There are bad things in the world. Cultures are not benign. There are things in all cultures that need to be resisted. But that doesn’t give me license to approach the world as if my culture is basically, in most things, right, and the other culture is mostly threat and darkness – because it’s always going to be more complicated than that.”

Living alongside people from cultures different to our own is a fact of life, but even after decades of officially embracing and celebrating multiculturalism, it’s not always clear how we can do this well. David Smith discusses what it means to learn from – and to love – the stranger.

“Tolerance is a willingness to let someone be, whereas love is a commitment to someone else’s wellbeing – which is not the same as saying I’m willing for them to exist and I’m not going to attack them. I mean, that’s a good starting point. Tolerance is not a bad thing. But love is going a step beyond that, and saying the other’s wellbeing is important to me, and when that wellbeing is threatened I’m willing to step out of my way and seek to secure their wellbeing.”

David Smith is Professor of Education and Professor of German at Calvin College in Michigan.

This episode was first broadcast on 13 August 2015.

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