Blog Roundup – December
This was not the holiday season we thought it would be. And I wouldn’t be surprised if most people were happy to bid 2012 a swift goodbye, given the tragedies that punctuated it.
The mass shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, shook many Americans to the core. Nothing shocks our collective conscience quite like the sudden loss of innocent children. As the president painfully reminded us, “they had their entire lives ahead of them- birthdays, graduations, weddings, kids of their own.”
A few days after Christmas, another great tragedy occurred, as a man was pushed in front of an oncoming train in New York culminating in a horrible death and a violent hate crime; In her own words, the attacker “pushed a Muslim off the train tracks.” “I hate Hindus and Muslims ever since 2001 when they put down the twin towers,” she said. IFYC alum and author Chris Stedman related to the incident, as he once narrowly avoided a similar attack.
As the list of tragedies lengthened this year, we seemed to have trouble using one of the most fundamental problem-solving tools we possess: dialogue. But in the aftermath of tragedies like Newtown, we need civil discourse more than ever.
In spite of all of this, I am actually hopeful. I’m hopeful because stories on the IFYC blog have lifted up examples of what powerful, civil discourse can look and sound like. I’m hopeful because Thomas Wobby, an atheist student, uses interfaith dialogue to lessen stigma around the irreligious. I’m hopeful because Mark Wolfe adopted a more charitable way of giving and receiving greetings over the holidays, characterized by compassion and grace. Perhaps I’m most hopeful because Prerna Abbi and Avi Smolen worked with high school students who saw their “differences as assets, as pathways for learning and expanding.”
As our generation ages and takes the reigns to lead society, I hope we all see our differences as assets.
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