Character Is Reflected in Practices and Actions

Tuesday, August 16, 2016 - 7:00 pm

Character Is Reflected in Practices and Actions

After vigorous discussion, our editorial team decided to remove a post, “Building a More Perfect Union from the Ground Up,” from our site — a decision we do not take lightly. We unpublished the post because it primarily offered political analysis that steps outside our editorial purview.

A man kneels before an Orthodox priest during a protest on January 25, 2014 in Kiev, Ukraine. (Rob Stothard / Getty Images / © All Rights Reserved)

Omid Safi: The Spiritual Is Political

“Many religious and civic institutions, including On Being itself, have guidelines that eschew taking a political stance in favor of one candidate or another. The ultimate concern of those who care about the spirit, about the mystery of being human, is not with a single presidential election, but with building the beloved community. The goal of politics is nothing less than building the beloved community through a dirty, messy, and imperfect process.”

In a way that only Omid does so gracefully, he gently pokes at, and reflects on, the intersection of politics, spirituality, and just action in this week’s column. I’m grateful for his willingness to challenge us all.

(Richard Heathcote / Getty Images / © All Rights Reserved)

Simone Manuel’s Moment to Remember
The Olympic Games are streaming nearly 24/7 in my house. Witnessing victory and great performances are enchanting, yes, but it’s those defining moments when athletes transcend the overt storyline and surface the angels of their character that draw us in. Simone Manuel, the first African-American woman to win an individual gold medal in swimming, offered a touching glimpse of this during her reaction to her unexpected win. It has to be one of the most inspirational moments of Rio 2016:

“The gold medal wasn’t just for me. It was for people that came before me and inspired me to stay in the sport. For people who believe that they can’t do it, I hope I’m an inspiration to others to get out there and try swimming. You might be pretty good at it.”

USA speedskater Dan Jansen sits on the ice with his hands in his head after he falls for the second time in the Men’s 1000-meter event in Calgary, Canada. (Mike Powell / Getty Images / © All Rights Reserved)

Don Richter: The Moral Value of Sports
So, we dug into our archives, and found this wonderful essay by theologian Don Richter on how sport can be a teacher and a guide to religious leaders:

“Christians are called to support voluntary associations that contribute to healthy public life. In this spirit, Christians can affirm the moral value of sports while emphasizing that their congregations, too, can initiate young people into a set of life-giving practices, practices that will form their moral character as deeply as — and ultimately deeper than — sports.”

(Jonas Tana / Flickr / Some Rights Reserved)

Naomi Shihab Nye: The Traveling Onion

“When I think how far the onion has traveled / just to enter my stew today, I could kneel and praise / all small forgotten miracles”

The poet’s praise song to the humble onion serves as a metaphor for the many overlooked blessings before us. If you haven’t had a chance yet, take a listen to our podcast with Naomi too. It’s brilliant, and her instruction will inform the rhythms of your daily life. It has mine!

(Daniel Koskinen / Flickr / Some Rights Reserved)

Parker Palmer: A Gardening Poem About Living

“We are plants, not products, and we need to treat ourselves and each other the way a good gardener treats green and growing things.”

With the poetry of Marge Piercy acting as his inspiration, Parker extends the gardening metaphor to the tending of one’s wild and precious life.

From Our Tumblr: Helen Boggess
The illustrator crafted this gorgeous pen and ink drawing, pulling from Krista’s latest book, Becoming Wise:

“The question of what it means to be human has now become inextricable from the question of who we are to each other.”

It’s so incredible to know that talent knows no bounds. We feature art as well as poetry and photographs on our Tumblr too. Please share and submit your own!

Instagram Account to Follow: Global Oneness Project
This multimedia project has a noble mission: offer all of their stories and lesson plans to high school and college students for free. And their Instagram account is a way to dip your toes in the water and see our multicultural world through their humanistic lens. Not only are their photos visually stunning, the captions connect us with what’s most important: each other.

An Empathy Video That Asks You to Stand in Someone Else’s Shoes
One powerful facet of viral videos is that they pop back into your consciousness from time to time. Several years ago, I happened across this video from the Cleveland Clinic that encourages us to reimagine the people and spaces around us to foster deeper connection and well being:

“If you could stand in someone else’s shoes, hear what they hear, see what they see, feel what they feel… Would you treat them differently?”

As always, thank you for the kind and generous feedback. I welcome your criticism and advice in addition to your gracious comments. Please feel free to contact me or anyone on our team with your thoughts at or via Facebook or Twitter.
May the wind always be at your back.

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is the cofounder of On Being and currently serves as publisher & editor-in-chief. He received a Peabody Award in 2007 for his work on “The Ecstatic Faith of Rumi” and garnered two Webby Awards (in 2005, and again in 2008). The Online News Association nominated his journalistic work multiple times in the general excellence and outstanding specialty journalism categories. Trent’s reported and produced stories from Turkey to rural Alabama, from Israel and the West Bank to Cambridge, England.

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