I’ve Been Thinking
I love the above quote from Mother Teresa – now Saint Teresa – because it speaks to our most basic need to belong. It speaks to what our world needs so much at this moment: peace.
These days, it can feel hard to find peace when every week seems to be going by so fast. Every day races by, and every minute, a new story grabs your attention, only to be replaced by another.
Confirmations. Filibusters. Immigration bans. No bans. Showdowns. Debates. Conflicts of interest. Ethics, judges, and executive orders. Coretta Scott King. Kellyanne Conway. Jeff Sessions. Melissa McCarthy. Missing jerseys. Nordstrom. Oh, and yes, “she persisted.”
And that’s just skimming the surface.
I, for one, want to slow it down. Slow it all down. I want to slow down and take a step back from it all so that I can really think about the pathway to peace in this ever-changing world.
Over the years, I’ve thought a lot about peace and how it’s connected to our sense of belonging and acceptance. I have come to learn that once you can accept yourself — once you can accept the dark and the light that exists in all of us — you’re on your way to finding peace.
Peace within leads to peace in your home, your community, and your country. On New Year’s Eve, I stood around a fire pit with my kids and stated that acceptance was going to be my theme for the year. Acceptance of myself and of others. Acceptance of what is, without losing my belief and resolve to chart a new way forward when necessary.
I write about belonging and acceptance because I think it is what underlies so much of the divisive debate playing out in our culture. Who belongs and who gets to decides who belongs?
Growing up, my father never let us belong to the country club near our home because he said the club didn’t accept African Americans or Jews. He told us we couldn’t belong to a place that didn’t accept everyone. That has stuck with me my entire life.
America’s story has always been one of acceptance. People left places where they felt they didn’t belong and traveled here to America, where everyone could belong and where everyone could be accepted. I’m a descendant of immigrants, and my children’s father is a first generation immigrant. Our country is made up of so many people who came here looking for a place to belong.
When I watched Airbnb’s Super Bowl commercial called “We Accept,” it made me think about how the need to belong lives in all of us.
We all want to belong. We all want to be accepted. Recognizing that we share this desire can help us see our shared humanity.
So, as we live in the midst of this never-ending news cycle — one filled with stories about politicians debating who belongs and who is accepted — I encourage us all to slow down. Slow down the news, slow down our conversations, and slow down life so that we can connect more authentically, listen more attentively, and act more civilly and civically towards one another.
Saint Teresa is right. We do belong to each other. Once we accept that truth, we will be on our path to peace.
Every week at The Sunday Paper, we honor individuals who use their voices, their hearts, and their minds to Move Humanity Forward.
Today, as the music industry gathers for the 59th annual Grammy Awards, we want to honor a man who is using music as a means to foster empathy and acceptance across generations.
Michael Rossato-Bennett, our Architect of Change of the Week, is the director of the documentary “Alive Inside.” It’s an incredible film that chronicles how music can be used to re-awaken the souls of individuals with dementia.
It’s Michael’s mission to reimagine how our society views the elderly and to spark what he calls “an empathy revolution.” He is using music as a tool to create shared experiences between young and old.
Filmmaker · Music Visionary · Architect of Change
1. “Seeing How Music Affects People With Dementia Changed My Life. It showed me how phenomenally alive the emotional systems of people with Alzheimer’s are. Music conveys meaning that cannot be expressed in words, and for someone who has dementia, it reignites the pathways of emotions, movement, and memories.”
2. “We Have an Empathy Deficit in Our Culture. Young people are being raised through technology and we don’t need each other in the way we used to. Yet I’ve found that when the young connect with the elderly using music, it’s a phenomenal teaching moment. It’s transformative. I invented these headsets that are light, fit on an elder’s head, and are wired so two people can listen at the same time. It’s my dream to have a million kids give a million elders these headsets. It’s cheap and it creates human connection.”
3. “We Should All Share the Soundtrack to Our Lives. My Alive Inside Foundation has an app that lets you write down the soundtrack of your life. Everyone has songs that no one knows they love. Make a playlist and share it with your family, so that if you’re ever cognitively impaired, people will know your music.”
SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT
Faith Leaders Share Their Thoughts on Prayer
Many of you responded last week to my message about prayer and how I use it to find peace on a daily basis. Some of you shared your own approach to prayer, while others said they were struggling with exactly “how to pray” in these uncertain times.
My brother Tim was among the voices I heard from. He told me that to him, “prayer is opening yourself to welcoming, relishing, trusting, and even becoming at one with the unconditional love of God.”
Tim wisely suggested that it could be valuable for us to also hear how leaders in the faith community describe prayer. So, we reached out to a few spiritual leaders to get their thoughts on the topic. Below, we share their reflections and advice for how to incorporate prayer into our lives.
SUNDAY PAPER EXCLUSIVE
Krista Tippett on Reconsidering the Word Love
Peabody Award-winning broadcaster and National Humanities Medalist Krista Tippett has spent her career examining what it means to be human and the ways in which we connect, find peace and seek faith and humanity with one another.
With Valentine’s Day this Tuesday, we thought it would be worthwhile to share Krista’s insightful perspective on love and how we can more deeply embody it in our lives.
Below, she shares an excerpt from her new book “Becoming Wise: An Inquiry into the Mystery and Art of Living” with you, the readers of The Sunday Paper.
RECONSIDERING THE WORD LOVE
An Excerpt From Krista Tippett’s Book “Becoming Wise”
Love is the superstar virtue of virtues, and the most watered down word in the English language. I love this weather. I love your dress. And what we’ve done with the word, we’ve done with this thing – this possibility, this essential bond, this act. We’ve made it private, contained it in family, when its audacity is in its potential to cross tribal lines. We’ve fetishized it as romance, when its true measure is a quality of sustained, practical care. We’ve lived it as a feeling, when it is a way of being. It is the elemental experience we all desire and seek, most of our days, to give and receive.
I long to make this word echo differently in hearts and ears – not less complicated, but differently so. The sliver of love’s potential which the Greeks separated out as eros is where we load so much of our desire, center so much of our imagination about delight and despair, define so much of our sense of completion. There is the love the Greeks called philia – the love of friendship. There is the love they called agape – love as embodied compassion, expressions of kindness that might be given to a neighbor or a stranger. The Metta of the root Buddhist Pali tongue, “lovingkindness,” carries the nuance of benevolent, active interest in others known and unknown, and its cultivation begins with compassion towards oneself.
In both Hebrew and Arabic, the word for “compassion” is connected to the word for “womb.” This image is beautiful and challenging in equal measure. Consider its implicit complexity in light of the bloody, miraculous, real world experience of birth, and it tells a frank story of love in its fullness. A merger of pleasure and risk and sacrifice. A dance of alternating vulnerabilities. A wellspring of joy. A challenge to endless learning by mistake. The moment to moment evolution of care.
If you’re in Los Angeles, please join Krista and I next Thursday, February 23, for an Architects of Change coffee and conversation. Get your tickets today.
YOUR SUNDAY SPACE
A THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK AHEAD
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