Showing Up and Letting Go in Citizenship and Society

Saturday, February 11, 2017 - 5:30 am

Showing Up and Letting Go in Citizenship and Society

Like many of you, we’re trying to make sense of the world and also remind ourselves that there are new possibilities to be our best selves — as citizens and as a civil society. So, please tell us what we’re missing; show us what’s in our blind spots. You can write us using our contact form or by emailing us directly at

What Our Columnists Had to Say This Week

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Mary’s Rebel Anthem
Broderick Greer

Broderick is an Episcopal priest who grew up in the Baptist Church. And in his column, he preaches. His is a sermon about Mary, an exiled mother “who goes from docile peasant girl to a punk rocker.” It’s a provocative essay that leads to deeper reading and deeper introspection. Gary Coulter shared this response in the comments section:

“When I was very young Christianity was presented as clean and uncluttered. I am now a man halfway through six decades of life and Mary’s world of uncertainty is what speaks to me. Hope is perhaps the best way forward through the dark woods that all of us at some point will find ourselves lost in. I thank God for a rougher and definitely cluttered Christianity Mary might recognize.”

(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images) (Drew Angerer / Getty Images / © All Rights Reserved)

The Color of Urgency
Courtney Martin

Millions of people showed up to protest in cities around the country the day after President Trump’s inauguration. Our columnist was one of them. But, she poses an uncomfortable question in her latest column: When do we choose to show up, and for whom?

“I can’t help but wonder how many of these same people were at Black Lives Matter protests. How many of us have considered the discrimination, criminalization, and even death of American citizens of color an emergency worthy of disrupting our Saturday night plans?”

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Let Go and Let Be
Parker Palmer

The key to writing, as our columnist has learned, is to write! It’s one of those self-evident truths that, once it’s stated, becomes an a-ha moment. In the spirit of this wisdom, Parker shares one of his very own poems on calming the storms inside ourselves:

“Now let this ocean breathe for you, / beat your heart and pump your briny blood, / heave your sighs and weep your sea-salt tears / that flow beyond the rim of earth / farther than your anxious eye can see— / while under all, incessant surf / insists on letting go and letting be.”

What We’re Reading and Listening To

The Tim Ferriss Show
Matt Mullenweg: Characteristics and Practices of Successful Entrepreneurs
In this podcast, the CEO of a major tech startup answers listeners’ most popular questions. But, it is his advice on hiring that resonates on so many levels:

“If someone has those four things — work ethic, taste, integrity, and curiosity — I believe that you can learn anything in the world.”

The Economist
Angry History: The Deep Roots of Modern Resentment
I will forever appreciate The Economist‘s book reviews. Here they do a marvelous job of assessing Pankaj Mishra‘s most recent tome, Age of Anger: A History of the Present, which at its core is “an intellectual history of popular discontents.”

Pray for Voldemort?
A provocative piece, Krista writes, that is reaching devout Christians and has people thinking:

“All humans: atheist, spiritual, agnostic, saved-in-the-blood-of-Jesus know — really know — that evil exists. I think that is because we see glimmers of it in ourselves. I think we convert ideas into moral judgment because we want surety in the presumption that we are not evil. We want to be right because we want to be good. And the barometers of right and wrong are detaching from religion at light speed.”

From the Archives

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The Buddha Smile of Langston Hughes
E. Ethelbert Miller

We reprised this short essay by the poet E. Ethelbert Miller — whom Krista interviewed in 2010 — for the beginning of Black History Month. He looks to the cherubic smile of one of our greatest writers of the 20th century, Langston Hughes, whose words are infused with a visionary love for black culture and the world:

“For me, looking at Langston, with his Buddha smile and easy laugh, makes me think about what it means to possess a poet’s heart. I too have known rivers. I like to think of Langston as being not just the keeper of our dreams, but builder of the ferry that we ourselves can guide to take us there.”

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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