Jumping Back Into the Fray After a Hectic Summer

Tuesday, September 12, 2017 - 12:03 pm
Writer Junot Díaz attends the Jersey Boys at The New Yorker Festival on October 10, 2014. (Photo by Andrew Toth/Getty Images for The New Yorker Festival)

Jumping Back Into the Fray After a Hectic Summer

Our team returned to work after a revivifying two-week holiday. And we welcomed back Krista after her three-month sabbatical by jumping into full production mode: bringing on our new COO Erinn Farrell, interviewing Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman, and completing the final edit of next week’s podcast with Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Junot Díaz. He’s a brilliant, articulate mind who offers so many ideas to parse, but these words stick with me:

“For people like us, for people who come out of the African diaspora in the new world, simply to fall in love when you have historically been denied love, the right to just connect to the body which you have chosen and that has chosen you, means that an act of love is not only revolutionary, it’s not only transcendent, but it is the deific, it is God-like, it is a glimpse or a taste of the omnipotent.”

And we welcomed back our columnists too…

Parker Palmer The End of Summer Is the Space Before What Could Be
Summer seems a distant memory, doesn’t it? Parker ponders “how to ride the autumn energy into the potentials that are always present in yet another season of life” and “reap the whirlwind, maybe the harvest.”

Demonstrators participate in a march and rally against white supremacy August 16, 2017 in downtown Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Demonstrators participate in a march and rally against white supremacy August 16, 2017 in downtown Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Jessica Kourkounis / Getty Images / © All Rights Reserved)

Courtney MartinA New Narrative of Whiteness Is Unfolding
Real racial progress, as Courtney sees it, has been bogged down by an understanding of whiteness as being either invisible or a source of shame — one a “comfortable delusion,” the other a “delusional comfort.” But, on the horizon, she wonders if a third way — crucial to our country’s evolution — is arising:

“Could it be that a narrative of whiteness that feels redeemable, principled, loud, unafraid, intentionally uncomfortable, even joyful, is starting to take shape? Has the white supremacy movement’s palpable surfacing finally allowed for a critical mass of white anti-racist Americans to step forward and declare the dismantling of white supremacy a personal priority?”

(Leo Manjarrez / Unsplash / Public Domain Dedication (CC0))

Ali SchultzBeyond the Myths We Tell Ourselves, Big Love Is Waiting
We wrap ourselves, Ali writes, in mythmaking and work for a sense of purpose and protection. But, if the story we tell ourselves begins to feel isolating and loveless, maybe we need to think bigger?

“We work hard, we choose work over life, we take on responsibilities that may or may not be ours to take on, we suffer from psychic and emotional weight — things such as guilt, worry, fear, anxiety. Mired in struggle, directing dramas, and, perhaps, wondering if that’s all there is. Is it?”

Things We’re Reading
The New York TimesGoodbye, Yosemite. Hello, What?
An enriching, eye-opening op-ed spurred by the renaming of a treasured lodge in Yosemite Valley.

The New YorkerLetter from a Region in My Mind
James Baldwin writes, “We may be able, handful that we are, to end the racial nightmare, and achieve our country, and change the history of the world.”

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From the On Being Archives

Jennifer Michael HechtSuicide and Hope for Our Future Selves
Suicide rates are at a 30-year high, especially for women aged 45-64. So often the conversation around suicide is based on morality or rights. Perhaps it’s time for a new cultural reckoning —and one, Jennifer Michael Hecht proposes, that’s based on our essential need for each other:

“I think that the conversation does have to be about how important people are to each other and how vivid that becomes after a suicide. We’re all suddenly reaching out to each other to say, ‘Really? Did this really happen?’ and ‘I miss this person,’ and ‘I didn’t even know that I was so connected to them.’ And that’s a good place to start a conversation. Not the negative side. Not to say, ‘Don’t kill yourself ‘cause it would kill other people,’ but to say, ‘Look how involved we all are just under the surface, and let’s try to help each other.’”

Constellations of Listening
Our newly designed discovery engine does something special. It creates constellations of listening. Think of it like this… each On Being episode is like a discrete star in a larger cosmos. By bringing into focus a limited set of kindred stars, a new picture forms — a constellation that helps you see and understand the universe slightly differently. The constellation formed with the Ms. Hecht interview as its north star:

Listen, share, and please let me know what new insights you may have gleaned from this constellation! My email address is trentgilliss@onbeing.org, and I’m on Twitter at @trentgilliss.

And to all of you who wrote me about Mike Rowe’s testimony on the intelligence we ignore, I deeply appreciate your willingness to share your personal stories about the value of vocational education and growing up in the trades. Thank you for opening up.

May the wind always be at your back,
Trent

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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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  • Gabby

    Thank you so much, Trent, for your link to the James Baldwin. No one can think well about blackness or whiteness in America today, I think, without reading and remembering James Baldwin.

    • Several years back I heard a marvelous conversation between James Baldwin and Reinhold Niebuhr. I’m trying to find it again and share it in our digital spaces for everyone to hear.