A Tomorrow Called Hope

As a teacher, I always thought my first job was to create a safe space for all. If I was successful at that, then some learning on my students’ as well as my part could take place. I can’t tell you how amazed I was to see that the great Jesuit teacher of our day, Pope Francis agrees. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised though, we had the same teacher.

Pope Francis in his April, 2017 TED Talk, Why the only future worth building includes everyone, tells us how to create this safe space, this safe world. We do this, Pope Francis tells us by understanding that none of exist except with each other, “none of us is an island”. Secondly, Pope Francis shares his dream of a world that recognizes that life is really about, loving one another. A life of love gives us a tomorrow called hope. Finally, he talks about a revolution that needs to take place, “the revolution of tenderness”.

This distilled version does no justice to the loving, hopeful version Pope Francis shares in his TED Talk.

Dan O’Donnell

Dan O’Donnell, a layman has covenanted with the Chicago Community. In addition to the standard covenant, Dan promises to work at connecting all partners known and unknown, to a conscious following the the way of Jesus, the way of the cross which Dan believes transforms all failure, democratizing the human journey

Some Thoughts on “The News”

I’m not sure when television “News”  (North, East, West, South) started becoming important to me. Actually, throughout most of my life I never had the time to watch it regularly, but since I’ve retired, it’s become a regular event in my daily life. I’m beginning to think this is not healthy. After sitting in front of the TV for a half hour, trying to digest all those eight second cuts presented, I walk away more confused and I believe less informed.

I began wondering if there wasn’t a better way for me to get connected with what is happening in my immediate world and the larger universe surrounding that. I started looking for alternatives and I think I’ve found a good one, Damon Brown’s How to choose your news, a TED Ed talk and lesson. TED Ed is TED’s youth initiative that presents animated lessons like the above one, as well as all sorts of discussion questions and materials for someone who wants to go deeper. (I wish these existed when I was teaching-I think they are great)

While the animation is only 4:48 minutes, and I believe well worth watching, I will try to summarize it in a few sentences. Brown starts with recognizing the confusion surrounding today’s plethora of media including, but not limited to social media, blogs (this of course is a blog) and online videos. He suggests the following seven points if you want to get the truth:

  1. Get original news
  2. For current events, follow reporters on social media
  3. Don’t try to follow chaotic stories in real time. Check at several points during the day rather than every few minutes
  4. When you can’t get the original story, read coverage in multiple outlets and not the differences
  5. Separate fact from opinions noting words
  6. Watch out for stories that rely on anonymous sources
  7. Verify news before spreading it

As a community we are as apt to post material that is controversial and present it as facts. Worse, we stand on the sidelines of the important issues of our day unwilling to share our truth or view. This I believe (note the use of the word believe) is not good. As a community with a shared strong belief in the power of the Cross we need to speak up, not condemning those who think differently, or suggesting that our view is any better than another’s, but simply stating our truth. Finally, if we wish to be heard, we must also respectfully listen to others who don’t share our thoughts.

Dan O’Donnell

Dan O’Donnell, a layman has covenanted with the Chicago Community. In addition to the standard covenant, Dan promises to work at connecting all partners known and unknown, to a conscious following the the way of Jesus, the way of the cross which Dan believes transforms all failure, democratizing the human journey

Life/Work Balance

Governments and corporations are not going to solve the work/life balance we need in our life. So says Nigel Marsh in his How to make work-life balance work in his May 2010 TEDx Talk. In a short ten minutes he gives us four ways to make the balance. While I like his suggestions, his two-minute story of an evening with his youngest child at the end of his talk, convinced me of the urgency of such an endeavor.

For me, poet, novelist and environmentalist, Wendell Berry, gives a much clearer picture of what I need to do:

…According to him, the good life includes sustainable agriculture, appropriate technologies, healthy rural communities, connection to place, the pleasures of good food, husbandry, good work, local economics, the miracle of life, fidelity, frugality, reverence, and the interconnectedness of life. (Wikipedia)

Not easy achievements in a 21st Century American city, but maybe, just maybe some of Berry’s ideas deserve our attention. Today a program such as The one-acre farm might just be the answer.

Why all this talk of environment, life/work balance on our Partners’ blog? The Old English word for healthy is holy. As Partners we strive for holiness. This necessarily involves all the above issues and probably some more. St. Benedict who talked about a life of prayer, study and work and St. Paul of the Cross who focused his life on keeping alive the memory of Jesus’ passion weren’t faced with the issues we are today. I believe if they were around today, these are the issues they would be preaching to us about.

Dan O’Donnell

Dan O’Donnell, a layman has covenanted with the Chicago Community. In addition to the standard covenant, Dan promises to work at connecting all partners known and unknown, to a conscious following the the way of Jesus, the way of the cross which Dan believes transforms all failure, democratizing the human journey

Less is More

I believe in the “Too big to survive” theory of economics. While various articles about “Too big to fail” come up when I searched that on Google, I think the phrase originated with Colin Wright a young entrepreneur, writer, speaker, world traveler and cofounder of Asymmetrical Press. (Warning: “This link is not authorized by Yahoo”) I like it because it contrasts well with the more familiar, “Too big to fail” theory.

What do I mean by “Too big to survive”? I believe this is what Lent is all about. As Passionists we are encouraged to take a period of time each year, Lent, to determine what is really important to us and our families and communities. One way to do this, is by paring down, getting rid of the excess, and focusing on what really matters, by getting smaller, just the opposite of what seems to be the wisdom of our day: “More, more, more”.

In what I believe is an ingenious contemporary six minute articulation of what St. Francis (1181 – 1226), St. Paul of the Cross (1694 – 1775) and many more saints preached, contemporary designer and writer, Graham Hill in his March 2011 TED Talk Less stuff, more happiness, suggests that we ask ourselves “Could I do a little life editing?” He gives three great suggestions for living more fulfilled, happy lives:

  • Edit ruthlessly
  • Think small
  • Make Multifunctional

I think maybe I’ll try making these my mantra for this Lent.

Dan O’Donnell

Dan O’Donnell, a layman has covenanted with the Chicago Community. In addition to the standard covenant, Dan promises to work at connecting all partners known and unknown, to a conscious following the the way of Jesus, the way of the cross which Dan believes transforms all failure, democratizing the human journey

 

Developing a Healthy Media Diet

I used to turn on the news when I got out of the shower in the morning and consume it with breakfast. I don’t do that anymore. Instead, after showering, I spend some time in quiet meditation thanking my creator, for the gift of a new day and and asking for guidance on how to be of service to our mother earth and those I will meet this day. That usually takes about a half hour. Then I sit down for breakfast. Sometimes I meditate before my shower giving me more time to peacefully glide into a new day.

After breakfast I head to my computer and that’s when the confusion starts. What should I do first—read Facebook, check my email, go to Twitter or do some writing? As of today, I don’t have a healthy routine or a comfortable answer to that question, and hence this post. I’m hoping your will share your experience.

Jihil Jolly in an August 20, 2014 article How to establish a media diet suggests we ask ourselves three things when consuming news:

  1. Why am I consuming this news?
  2. What is the most effective way for me to consume news?
  3. Do I want to act on this news?

These questions along with Lara Setrakian January 2017 TED Talk above: We have to resist the temptation to use fear for ratings suggests media has some responsibilities here. Lara presents three simple steps that the media need to do:

  1. Learn from people on the ground
  2. A hypocratic oath for reporters to “Do no harm:
  3. Embrace complexity

She also suggests that, realizing media’s obsession with ratings, we can play our little part in making them responsive by first, identifying those who present facts, follow them, rewarding them with the ratings they seek. At the same time, we can stop listening to fear mongers denying them the ratings they so desperately need to continue in business.

Maybe you’ve already answered these questions for yourself. If you have any suggestions of good news sources, or of answers to Ms. Jolly’s questions above, please share by commenting below.

Dan O'Donnell
Dan O’Donnell

Dan O’Donnell, a layman has covenanted with the Chicago Community. In addition to the standard covenant, Dan promises to work at connecting all partners known and unknown, to a conscious following the the way of Jesus, the way of the cross which Dan believes transforms all failure, democratizing the human journey

Facing the Enemy

Once in awhile someone’s story really connects me to my life like no other. I am a fighter by nature and that is good as long as I recognize the enemy, me. I must admit that most of the time, I make the mistake and think you, whether you are a religious or political leader or just my next-door neighbor are the enemy. Less often, I recognize the enemy, me and go about making the necessary changes to subdue the foe. I could tell you of a few experiences in my life that illustrate that, but none would begin to compare to Suzanne Barakat’s story as she tells it in her TEDWomen October 2016 talk: Islamophobia killed my brother. Let’s end the hate.

This sentiment, that I am the enemy, is in direct conflict with what I’ve seen in this past presidential campaign season where the candidates spent all their time telling us about the enemy, their opponent. I don’t think we came up with any winner, but actually a bunch of losers. I put myself in that bunch. It’s time to face the enemy, ourselves and thank you Ms. Barakat for showing us how.

Dan O'Donnell
Dan O’Donnell

Dan O’Donnell, a layman has covenanted with the Chicago Community. In addition to the standard covenant, Dan promises to work at connecting all partners known and unknown, to a conscious following the the way of Jesus, the way of the cross which Dan believes transforms all failure, democratizing the human journey

 

Making Peace

Zack Beauchamp in hisYouTube video, Three big reasons war is going away, admits that there are many reasons but then gives us just three as to why we are living in the most peaceful time in history*:

  1. The Democratic Peace
  2. Nuclear Deterrence
  3. Sovereignty

I suspect Mr. Beauchamp is onto something here, but I think there is another, and I would add, much more significant reason. I think we are living in the most peaceful time in history of the world because of people like Mahatma Gandhi, (1869 – 1948), Nelson Mandela (1918 – 2013) and Martin Luther King Jr. (1929 – 1968) who taught us how to respond to violence, marginalization and oppression with love and service. Also, people like Ethel Percy Andrus, Jane Addams, Dorothy Day and a whole host of others who may not have had the experience of marginalization or oppression, chose a life of love and service as well. Thanks to people like these and oh yes, Jesus (c 0 – 33). They taught us not only by their words, but more especially by their actions, how to make peace.

P.S. Happy Feast Day to all my Passionists friends around the world and all those celebrating the joyful memorial of the Passion of Jesus tomorrow, the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross.

Dan O'Donnell
Dan O’Donnell

Dan O’Donnell, a layman has covenanted with the Chicago Community. In addition to the standard covenant, Dan promises to work at connecting all partners known and unknown, to a conscious following the the way of Jesus, the way of the cross which Dan believes transforms all failure, democratizing the human journey

*Mr. Beauchamp is not the only one who thinks this. The Human Security Report “…an independent research centre affiliated with Simon Fraser University (SFU) in Vancouver, Canada.” gives a similar assessment.