The notion of convivencia, or cultures living alongside one another, arose from scholarship on religious diversity in medieval Spain. This concept can add to a vision of leadership in which diverse groups live in mutual respect. It encourages a public life that is more colorful and even more cacophonous than that in the other visions. It promises a framework for a peaceable democratic society that embraces the rich variety of the U.S. population. Yet the challenge is not simply to create communalism or multiculturalism — if understood as “identity groups” remaining apart from each other — but to forge respectful, mutual interaction when Americans' paths cross in public life. The vision describes leadership as building social crossroads and connectors. It draws on Kwame Anthony Appiah, Howard Gardner, and James MacGregor Burns to offer a vision that views “crossing paths” with religiously diverse people not as a matter of fleeting transactions, but as an opportunity for transforming leadership.
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