SHARE THIS EMAIL
Years ago I was facilitating a conversation between two groups in
Belfast. The groups were from vastly different points of view about
politics, religion, and society. They had invited me to facilitate a
conversation about peace. I accepted.
I like stories, so I wanted to talk about peace by highlighting a
story — a complex story. I sourced an article, verified it, and asked
the event leader if this article was suitable. Yes, they
said, it’s perfect. So, the day I met the two groups, I
distributed copies of the story saying, We think this would be a
good article to discuss while we consider peace.
The article made reference to a particular bomb in Belfast. What I
didn’t know was that some of the people in the room had been the first
respondents to that atrocity. They’d picked through rubble looking for
friends. Other people knew one of the bombers — he’d been released
under amnesty after our peace agreement. Fury rose; rightly so.
It was a spectacular failure. I wanted to blame someone else, but
that wouldn’t have achieved anything. Amazingly, the groups elected to
stay talking. It was tough. People asked each other questions about
the bomb, the bomber, the aftermath, the victims, their families
...They didn’t find a “middle road” — their viewpoints remained
divided. But the lives of the victims of this bomb were amplified as
the main lens through which to view their discussions. They disagreed
in a way that changed their understanding of each other without — and
this is vital — tolerating the intolerable.
I say all this because it echoes something the late Rabbi Lord
Jonathan Sacks said in
his 2010 conversation with Krista. “The greatest single antidote
to violence is conversation, speaking our fears, listening to the
fears of others, and in that sharing of vulnerabilities, discovering a
genesis of hope.” We’re re-airing this conversation in light of his
untimely death last weekend. His name is a blessing.
For Rabbi Sacks, talking to each other is not about creating a
false and tepid peace. Conversation is the place of significant
argument and — eventually — deep exploration of difference. He knows
that people who’ve been locked in awful conflicts can explore their
conflicts in rooms where substantial change, recognition, and
admission can happen.
The election of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris to president and vice
president last weekend was monumental. Once again, the United States
is embarking on a pathway of change. In that change, exploration,
curiosity, conversation, challenge, and community will be vital.
Paul Tran’s poem “The
Cave” on Poetry Unbound continues on in this theme. In
their poem we are invited to explore a cave: a cave of ideas, a cave
where you feel alone, even though others have gone before you. The
speaker in the poem urges the listeners to keep going, to follow the
idea, to explore past the point of fear, to find unexpected ancestors
whose courage lights our way. And Tayi Tibble’s poem “Our
Nan Lets Us Smoke Inside” considers how a long life of inclusion,
family-by-choice, celebration, and listening — in times of joy and
times of grief — have the power to create even in the face of
We’re glad you’re listening. We are too — and we’re always glad to
hear from you.
Pádraig Ó Tuama
host of Poetry
SHARE THIS EMAIL
This Week at The On Being Project
Our Latest Episode
On Being with Krista
Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks”
How to be true to one’s own convictions
while also honoring the sacred and civilizational calling to shared
life — indeed, to love the stranger?
A poem about exploring the cave — where
secrets, solitude, and courage are
Nan Lets Us Smoke Inside
A poet recalls her love for her nan, a
member of her chosen family, a woman of welcome and generosity, in
times of celebration and grief.
Poetry Film: The
This week in our new "Poetry Film" series, we're featuring a short
film by Ella Dobson featuring Rumi’s
poem “The World,” translated and read by Fatemeh Keshavarz.
Listen | Irish
theological podcast ‘Guardians of the
Inspired by Rabbi Lord
Jonathan Sacks’ phrase “We must be guardians of the flame,” this Irish
podcast takes a theological look at topics of liberation and
reconciliation. In this episode host Jonny Clark interviews South
African theologian René August. — Pádraig Ó Tuama
Watch | My
Filmmaker Craig Foster’s exploration
of a single underwater kelp forest is mesmerizing. His life-changing
apprenticeship to the octopus he encounters there each day is a soul
stirring reminder that wild things have the power to reawaken us — if
only we would pay attention! — Ben Katt, Associate Director,
Religious Life & Social Healing
Read | How
I Became A Human Being: A Disabled Man’s Quest for
Mark O’Brien was a journalist and poet
whose life and work inspired one of my favorite movies, The
Sessions. Reading Mark’s memoir — which also includes some of his
poetry — made me feel less alone during these pandemic times, and
helped me to more deeply appreciate the importance of intimacy,
relationships, and human touch. — Liliana Maria Percy Ruiz,
Long Road Ahead of Healing the Heart of American
Nov. 18, 4 p.m.
Join NationSwell and Einhorn Collaborative for this conversation,
moderated by Krista, about what it will take to heal and repair our
fractured country and how each of us can contribute to this urgent,
Nov. 19, 8 p.m. ET
After an especially contentious election, what paths can we take
that will help heal a divided nation? Join Krista, the founder of The
Progress Network, Zachary Karabell, and Interfaith Youth Core's Eboo
Patel as they discuss the role of spiritually-based solutions to
moving forward together.
Compassion and Healing our National
Nov. 20, 11 a.m. ET
Krista will moderate a discussion with two of America’s best-known
faith leaders, The Most Rev. Michael Curry and Dr. Russell Moore, who
will share their personal views, examine areas of common ground, and
explore how some of the key ethical teachings of their faith are
relevant to the task of creating understanding and reconciliation
between Americans of different political views.