Engaging "The Other"

SEEKING DIALOGUE

Image credit: The Guardian

Image credit: The Guardian

I went to a Trump rally in my hijab. His supporters aren’t just racist caricatures
by Kaddie Abdul
The Guardian


Practicing Muslim Kaddie Abdul recently attended a rally in support of presidential candidate Donald Trump. Trump, who has been vocal about his anti-Muslim sentiments, usually attracts a crowd that Abdul knew would have mixed feelings about the presence of her bright orange hijab. She also knew the potential risks to her physical safety. Despite this, Abdul attended and compassionately writes about her motivation for The Guardian: “It is important to give people that may not have ever met or interacted with a Muslim an opportunity [to meet and learn] about Islam from someone that actually practices it." With the exception of some “hard stares and dirty looks,” she was pleasantly surprised by most of her interactions. Furthermore, she gained deeper insight into the views and reasons people seem to be supporting Trump: “His supporters are people, not caricatures. They feel marginalized economically, politically, and socially; they see a world different from the one they think should exist.” Abdul was willing to step into the shoes “the other” without knowing what results that experience might bring. She opened herself up to the possibility of confrontation and criticism in an effort to engage in true dialogue with those who might be deemed her “enemy” and vice versa. How does this action inspire you to step out of your own comfort zone and engage with people whose views might seem the polar opposite to your own?

SEEKING JUSTICE

Image credit: OWN Network

Image credit: OWN Network

How A Visit to Death Row Turned This Man Into a Crusader For Justice
by Lisa Capretto, OWN Network
Huffington Post


"I'm pressing on the upward way,
New heights I'm gaining every day;
Still praying as I onward bound,
Lord, plant my feet on higher ground."

—Higher Ground Hymnal
 
When renowned justice attorney Bryan Stevenson was a 23-year-old law student working in an internship, he was given an opportunity to visit with a convict on death row to tell the man that his life was no longer on the line. The “elating” news caused the inmate to open up to Stevenson. As he told Oprah in this interview, "We sat down and talked for almost three hours—and we'd only scheduled to be there for an hour." It was an experience that would change his life forever: "We all have to find ways to get closer to the things we care about, the problems that burden us, the things that keep us up at night…Sometimes, we have to run to the problem." How could you run to the problems that call for your attention?

SEEKING EMPATHY

Image credit: Henry Leutwyler/Courtesy of Jessica Walsh

Image credit: Henry Leutwyler/Courtesy of Jessica Walsh

A Pathway To Kindness, In 12 Difficult Steps
by NPR Weekend Edition Sunday
NPR.org


This past weekend, NPR’s Rachel Martin reported on a 12-step experiment “designed to open our hearts, eyes and minds.” What exactly does that mean? Timothy Goodman and Jessica Walsh, best known for the viral blog and book 40 Days of Dating, created a year-long social experiment to see if following 12 steps could make them more kind and empathetic people. They’ve released details about each of their steps on their website, 12 Kinds of Kindness. As they told Martin, "We created the steps based on what we read and learned that psychologists say can make you more empathetic…And then after we had the steps set up, we asked ourselves what we wanted to explore for each of those." Some of them are more personal than others, but they all push us out of our daily routines and are worth exploring. How could you bring more kindness into your daily life?

SEEKING BEAUTY

Image credit: italianrenaissance.org

Image credit: italianrenaissance.org

When Beauty Strikes
by David Brooks
The New York Times


“Some of our most wonderful memories are beautiful places where we felt immediately at home. We feel most alive in the presence of the beautiful for it meets the needs of our soul. … Without beauty the search for truth, the desire for goodness and the love of order and unity would be sterile exploits. Beauty brings warmth, elegance and grandeur.” 
—John O'Donohue, Beauty: The Invisible Embrace

Modern art has certain kinds of social value, but have suffered the loss of an old understanding of how beauty transforms the soul? As New York Times op-ed columnist David Brooks writes on the subject: "By arousing the senses beauty arouses thought and spirit." Read more here.