Women are the worst, but also the best, in the trying times of death and catastrophe. A good woman can see what work needs doing. She does it; gets help when needed. Leaves the men to stand around “being strong.” (The best of the men also make themselves useful.) Food always needs cooking; there is cleaning to be done; other details to take care of. Contemplation requires leisure; let the grieving have the leisure they require. They ask for no advice: give none. Don’t distract with offers of help that are both unnecessary and insincere. Instead be attentive to request, and act — invisibly. Be there, on call like a soldier; and like a good soldier, shut up.
Second, pluralism is not just tolerance, but the active seeking of understanding across lines of difference . Tolerance is a necessary public virtue, but it does not require Christians and Muslims, Hindus, Jews, and ardent secularists to know anything about one another. Tolerance is too thin a foundation for a world of religious difference and proximity. It does nothing to remove our ignorance of one another, and leaves in place the stereotype, the half-truth, the fears that underlie old patterns of division and violence. In the world in which we live today, our ignorance of one another will be increasingly costly.