Blog Roundup – November
It’s been another incredibly eventful month (and I’m not just talking about the elections). For starters, my month began with my brother almost dying in an accident.
As all flights were canceled in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, I had plenty of time to reflect as I drove the fifteen odd hours from Chicago to New Jersey. Of course, at first, I couldn’t think about anything but how much he might recover, and how different our lives might be as a result.
But as the hours wore on, I came to terms with the fact that I had to make an effort to think differently; a negative thought process could only make things worse. And I realized that I have something of a tendency to mourn losses without celebrating victories.
By the time Thanksgiving came around, it was a no-brainer: I was thankful above all else that my brother survived. That was the victory I needed to celebrate to overcome the feeling of loss.
But this is the kind of dichotomy we face all the time, not just in moments of life and death. The very idea of interaction between people of different philosophies and faiths is one that can nurture cooperation or just as easily breed hate. We have to do the work of making this a victory and not a loss.
That’s why I was inspired by events this month. For one thing, we here at IFYC celebrated the release of Chris Stedman’s new book Faitheist: How an Atheist Found Common Ground with the Religious. Chris has tirelessly worked to shape how he (and many of us in turn) relates to others into a more compassionate and charitable manner.
As Hurricane Sandy tore through the Northeast, I was also happy to see politicians dropping campaign support (only if temporarily) to rally behind relief efforts. In an incredibly heartening interview, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie laid down the law and reached across the aisle to focus on what really mattered.
Blogs this month also shined a light on dichotomies we face, and how we can go about shaping those into constructive narratives. Evan Young called out the power of the word “faith,” in all its positive and negative connotations. Similarly, Kayla Higgins pointed out that the words we choose can unite or divide us, as the recent CTA bus ads have. And Samuel Jackson highlighted how our differences should not be made into “our irreconcilable differences,” but that we have to look beyond them to our shared human identity.
How we shape our world now, for better or worse, really comes down to what we believe. As the great author David Mitchell put it, “If we believe that human identity may transcend tooth and claw, if we believe diverse races and creeds can share this world peaceably . . . such a world will come to pass.”
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