By and large, multi-polar is better than bi-polar. That is, you tend to have bigger problems when you have two groups pitted against each other, particularly when one group is the permanent overdog of the other. When you have a variety of people – a good example would be Kerala, India, where you have a majority of Hindus but then substantial minorities of both Muslims and Christians — that means that the political system puts a premium on building coalitions. Building coalitions means crossing bridges and bringing together people from different groups. And that’s exactly what happens.
Wherever you have successful cases of multicultural society you generally find there is a leader who has made his or her reputation by bringing out all of the benefits of diversity and making people proud of being in the community that they’re in. What really struck us is that most of the places we write about are unknown even to our best-traveled and best-informed friends, and if we could put a little more publicity and throw a stronger spotlight on examples of civility and success, it would help offset the temper of gloom we have as we look at the all-too-obvious dysfunctional societies around us.