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Reinhard Mohn Prize 2018: Living together in cultural diversity

German society is culturally diverse – and has been for quite a while. Several different religions, traditions and languages have long been an integral part of our country. Diversity is a lived aspect of normal day-to-day life in Germany. And while living in cultural diversity presents on the one hand challenges, it also involves opportunities. In order to ensure mutual benefits in the exchange of different perspectives while making diversity a source of societal strength, we must pro-actively shape the conditions in which diversity is experienced.

Living together in diversity: both enriching and challenging

People draw strength from their own cultural identities: Ethnic origins, religions, languages, traditions and values lend us stability and help orient us. In addition, cultural diversity can be a source of innovation for a society. This is because the inclusion of different experiences, perspectives and approaches produces new ideas and promotes economic progress.

Culture is an essential source of support in people’s lives. It constitutes the crucial foundation of the social order.
Reinhard Mohn, 1992

At the same time, however, cultural diversity also makes our life more complicated. Dealing with other cultures presents many people with new challenges, and occasionally even leads to conflicts.

Thus, in a globalized world, it is important to practice dealing with diversity. Only in this way can we assure ourselves of living in a peaceful and prosperous society well into the future. At the minimum, dealing successfully with diversity means managing conflicts without resorting to violence. Ideally, it means that people with different cultural identities feel they belong to society to an equal extent, have an equal chance of prospering, have their voices heard within the political system, and cultivate relationships of mutual respect and esteem. This involves a responsibility to do more than simply tolerate or passively accept diversity; indeed, such diversity must be acknowledged and proactively shaped.

The peaceful coexistence of different cultures and peoples in one state requires a durable cultural pluralism that is secured through constitutional safeguards.
Reinhard Mohn, 1992

Shaping diversity together at the local level

We learn to deal with and proactively shape diversity through direct exchange with one another, in cities and communities, in neighborhoods and schools, in workplaces and in our free time. For this reason, the Reinhard Mohn Prize 2018 focuses on approaches that aim to promote living together in diversity in local communities and in people’s daily lives.

In many places – particularly in cities – a broad and multifaceted cultural diversity can already be found today, with people from different countries of origin and religions, with different languages, lifestyles, traditions and values all living in close proximity. With the Reinhard Mohn Prize 2018, we take a look at locales that can be considered pioneers and role models in dealing successfully with cultural diversity. These are places that have produced fair rules governing their residents’ daily practices of living, working and strengthening communities together. They have found means of publicly acknowledging and portraying diversity that are fair to everyone and depict a dignified and unprejudiced picture of life together. They foster dialogue and exchange between cultures, and make it possible to learn from and, above all, with one another.

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