Whenever anyone of us is diminished, we are all demeaned, when anyone or any group remains institutionally and socially stigmatized, marginalized, excluded, or disenfranchised, when violence comes down upon any of us, the possibility for authentic community cannot be realized unless and until we challenge it in truly transformational ways.
The West has to find a way to copy and compete with groups like ISIS. It will not be through Common Core. The best way to establish a sense of membership and a sense of purpose for young people is by promoting civic activism, in schools, in communities, in municipalities, and in the broader society.
I live on the outskirts of Chapel Hill (across the tracks, literally). It's been a heartbreaking time for everyone here, a frightening time for many Muslims (and those who might "look Muslim") in the region, and also a time of stirring, heartfelt solidarity and shared mourning. At a vigil at UNC Wednesday night, which was so full I couldn't hear the words from the stage but so hushed we could hear one another breathe, it was the perfect American ordinariness of the victims' family photos that brought me to tears. It's also the American ordinariness of the killer's images and attitudes that scares and saddens me. People have been quick to interpret these horrible slayings. Here are a few thoughts on how the world looks from here.
Sikhs believe that one can follow any number of religious paths to the same ultimate goal, so long as that path is traversed and mediated by the same core values, including love, wisdom, and discipline. This model of open-mindedness and open-heartedness also keeps Sikhs from engaging in competitions to proselytize or missionize people.
In a world rife with war, religious, racial, gender, sectarian, and political strife, when so many children lack safety, enough food, shelter, health care, and education and suffer unthinkable losses of parents to disease, violence, and war, I hope this New Year will bring adults closer to our common sense and moral responsibility for children's well being.