Got Me Thinking: What Do Recent Events Reveal About Our Common Humanity?

During the last week, the front pages of the New York Times featured a series of gut-wrenching headlines and arresting images all in such a rapid succession.

On one day, we saw images like the one above of the terrible humanitarian crisis unfolding in Somalia as tens of thousands of children have died from malnutrition. And then the next day, we saw the images of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in his hospital bed, once the most powerful man in his country and now absolutely powerless.

At the end of the week, we read about the tragic death of 30 Navy Seals in Afghanistan and extended our hearts and prayers to their families and friends who are no doubt experiencing overwhelming grief right now. We were also inundated with news about divisive budget debates in our nation’s capital and the S&P downgrade of American credit. And we saw corresponding images of our friends and neighbors standing in long unemployment lines.

As a journalist, I always wonder how images and stories like these affect the people who encounter them — and what they might reveal about our common humanity. I’ve been asking everyone I know what connections they think all these world events have between them. Some have suggested that they show that humanity is suffering from a poverty of the spirit. Some thought the stories reveal how powerlesss we all really are. Actually, power and powerlessness came up as a major theme in my conversations. Some pointed out that Mubarak was brought down from power by the collective will of his people who, until then, felt the same sense of powerlessness.

So, what about you — do you see a common thread that runs through theses events? Is there anything in these stories that can draw humanity together?

I’d love to hear from you.


About the Author

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Maria Shriver is a mother of four, a Peabody and Emmy Award-winning journalist and producer, a six-time New York Times best-selling author, and an NBC News Special Anchor covering the shifting roles, emerging power and evolving needs of women in modern life. Since 2009, Shriver has produced a groundbreaking series of Shriver Reports that chronicle and explore seismic shifts in the American culture and society affecting women today. Shriver was California’s First Lady from 2003 to 2010 and, during that time, she spearheaded what became the nation's premier forum for women, The Women's Conference. Shriver's work is driven by her belief that all of us have the ability to be what she calls Architects of Change -- people who see a problem in their own life or the community around them, then step out of their comfort zone and do what it takes to create the solution. Like her page on Facebook or follow her on Instagram.

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