Ali Abu Awwad and Robi Damelin of the Parents Circle-Families Forum receive a Common Ground Award in 2008. (Photo courtesy of Search for Common Ground)
"When you have no hope that it will ever change, do you follow a big news story less closely?"
The NYU journalism professor Jay Rosen (@jayrosen_nyu) asked this question a couple of weeks ago on Twitter. It's a good one.
I think he's pointing at a truth many of us are remiss to admit to ourselves — and each other. Somehow we can build up a mental callous to certain news events like the ongoing tensions between Israelis and Palestinians. When we're doing our job properly, we feel we can create an opening, a sliver of space that allows you, our listeners and readers, to move past the headlines of despair and hopelessness by presenting you with personal stories that create a human connection and, in the case of this week's show, an emotional connection — as witnessed in Krista's exchange with Swanny:
Your interview with Ali & Robi is so valuable! I wish every American listened. And I love you for it.
@YoSwanny Thank you. That photo of them on our site is on my desktop. They give me courage - so do you.
Listen to Robi and Ali's story. Share their story with others. Talk about it with your family and friends.
Andrew Solomon (perhaps you remember our show The Soul in Depression"?) is making similar connections too. In his new book, Far from the Tree, he explores stories of identity and love in difference as experienced through family in his most recent work, :
Watch this video showcasing the love between parents and children grounded in the grit of experience.
It's a powerful set of testimonials that'll make you forget the video is a trailer for a book, which I'm now reading with zeal.
Love the analogy from Minna Bromberg (@minnabromberg)! This is representative of the overwhelming response to last week's show on vulnerability and shame with Brené Brown. As is typical, people who listened to the show bring their own insights and wisdom to the subject — like this one from Dan Phillips (@dannyboy), a sustainable design consultant based in London:
Leaning in to our vulnerabilities takes not only our own strength but the kindness of others and wider society.
We were also received, as Krista tweeted, "an important critique of my conversation with Brene Brown" from Davina Allen (@_dee_minor). She reminds us that there are many perspectives we need to consider when discussing shame, especially when it concerns race:
"People of color in the United States have been contending with these kinds of messages for literally hundreds of years now. Shame is absolutely nothing new to the experience of a person of color in the United States. On quite the opposite hand, resisting the ongoing onslaught of overt and covert messages designed to shame people of color is merely a normal part of our daily existence."
Ms. Allen continues:
"White people often have an inordinate amount of difficulty in being able to be vulnerable and honest with people of color when having conversations about racism. I believe this is so because they simply do not know how to effectively handle and confront the guilt and shame that they experience when they are forced to confront white privilege, to accept their complicity in benefiting from that privilege, and to accept that society is as unjust and painful for people of color as they say it is."
"It is exactly as you said — the inability to handle the guilt and shame of white privilege, to accept that my own complicity in benefiting from that privilege, to accept that society is as unjust and as painful for people of color as they say it is. I would add that, for me, it is also the fear of losing the benefit or status of white privilege. What would happen to me without this shield of protection?"
I encourage all of you to read Ms. Allen's full comment and the conversation thread that resulted. It's a fruitful dialogue worth engaging in.
In the same vein, Jonathan Tran has written an article for The Christian Century (@Christiancent) I highly recommend reading. It contains some heavy-duty theology and historical references, but as Krista says:
A fascinating, important piece on black theology claiming and enlivening church tradition in a new way.
Moving forward, we're in the throes of our December/January show production, which includes an interview with Andy Revkin about the "knowosphere" — converging wisdom from the 20th-century French Jesuit paleontologist Pierre Teilhard de Chardin and 21st-century science journalism:
Wrapping my mind around this: "Matter is spirit moving slowly enough to be seen." ~Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
And yesterday Krista had a 90-minute conversation with Seth Godin on the new entrepreneurial paradigm taking shape today:
"We are all artists now." ~Seth Godin. Godin and Heschel hanging out together in my head via overlapping production. Intense... and fun.
And what better way to conclude this column that with these sage words from Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel from a 1972 NBC interview:
"...remember that the meaning of life is to live life as it if were a work of art. You're not a machine. When you are young, start working on this great work of art called your own existence."
I also received some insightful responses to last week's request about ways of giving thanks. I'll share some of the responses next week.