Understanding Differences
Volume XVIII Number 3

Table of Contents

  • Understanding Differences
  • Religion and Spirituality in Africa, Part I
  • Inspirational Thoughts
  • Encountering Differences
  • Activities
  • Thomas Merton: Seeds of Contemplation
  • Sharing
  • Poetry

More than ever, in this turbulent world of ours, is it essential that we develop the capacity to understand and acknowledge differences, especially those that touch us at our core-the beliefs, guiding principles and practices that shape our lives.

Why are there so many different visions of the world? In our Feature Article, "Understanding Differences" (originally published in 1996), Jorge Waxemberg suggests that it is because, at the present time, we have not yet found a vision of life that is suited to all human beings. A universal vision will evolve when each culture develops the capacity to consider not only its own interpretation of life, but also the interpretations of other cultures. As individuals, we can contribute to this process by cultivating a broader way of looking at what is different and developing an appreciation of our interdependence with other cultures and all of life.

Our interview with a cultural anthropologist from Senegal, Boubacar Traore, describes elements of traditional African religions and, in the process, some of the assumptions of Western spiritual traditions. Interestingly, the more deeply we penetrate our own tradition, the more we may be able to appreciate others. In Lives of Spiritual Unfolding, our biography of Thomas Merton shows us how a Trappist monk in America drew inspiration for his own mystical experiences from the writings of the East. And in Sharing, we hear from readers who reflect on spiritual questions raised by the painful events that began on September 11.

It is our hope and prayer that our spiritual work will contribute to the resolution of the differences that so divide our world.

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