407: Good News from Europe to U.S. on peaceful value of sharing our stories

GOOD NEWS is our theme this week …
    It’s fitting for the final days of Passover when the survival of the Jewish people in the exodus from Egypt is recalled — and in the days after Easter for Christians … (Read all about the Spiritual Seasons in our new weekly column.)

TODAY, we’re kicking off the week by focusing on interfaith and cross-cultural connections for peace. Hopeful signs are blossoming in many places.
    For example, we want to thank Brother Chidananda from the Self-Realization Fellowship for dropping us a quick email on an “entry from America magazine that resonates nicely with the perspective you and your website are trying to foster.” CLICK HERE to read an article from the Catholic magazine, America, exploring East-West parallels in appreciation of Jesus in Holy Week, which is over for Western Christians but is current for Eastern Orthodox.

AND HERE’S A PROVOCATIVE QUESTION: Over at the OurValues.org Web site today, Dr. Wayne Baker is asking about the moral rights of animals today, which extends the spiritual idea of “community” even further. He’s raising questions about pending legislation in this regard. Check out OurValues.org and leave a comment.

OUR “TOP ReadTheSpirit STORY” TODAY is about the visit of Frans Timmermans, a Cabinet Minister in the Netherlands who also is in charge of a 400th-anniversary celebration of Dutch-American connections.
    Timmermans is a strong advocate of clearly and honestly assessing our problems with cross-cultural conflict—and pushing for a “sharing of our stories” as an essential element in promoting peace and building strong, diverse nations.
    He brought his entire delegation to Dearborn, Michigan, widely acknowledged as a major center of Islam in the Western world, and spent hours meeting with religious, university and media representatives. His overall theme is so close to the founding principles of ReadTheSpirit that it’s clearly good news to share links—and a video—from his visit.

THE 400TH CELEBRATION: What is it? From the Dutch-sponsored site:
    “This year we celebrate 400 years of enduring friendship between the Netherlands and the United States. Four hundred years ago, a Dutch ship called the Half Moon was guided to the shores of what is now New York City with Captain Henry Hudson at the helm. This resulted in the establishment of New Amsterdam and the New Netherland colony. Some 167 years later, in 1776, the Dutch were the first to salute the flag of the United States of America. NY400 celebrates the free spirit, openness, entrepreneurship and tolerance of those Dutch-American pioneers, and their continued relevance today and beyond.”
    On that NY400 Web site, Timmermans wrote his own impressions of the visit to Dearborn.

OTHER MEDIA COVERAGE: A number of journalists attended the event, including myself as Editor of ReadTheSpirit. A statewide newspaper in Michigan, The Detroit News, reports on the event.
    So does the Arab-American News.

FOR ReadTheSpirit, OUR INTEREST is in the clear-eyed, pragmatic way Timmermans pointed directly at “sharing our stories”—or as he puts it in the video clip below—sharing “our storylines” among neighbors, building compassion and trust … one family at a time until neighborhoods and eventually entire nations are stronger.
    That’s a core mission at ReadTheSpirit, but hearing this from a cabinet minister representing a major European country is stirring, to say the least.
    (IF YOU ARE READING THIS STORY via email or an RSS feed, CLICK HERE TO JUMP TO OUR SITE so you can see the 7-minute video from Timmermans’ talk.)
    We have transcribed several key passages from this clip:
    Why are we seeing a rise in interfaith and cross-cultural friction?
    “This is not something orchestrated by someone who wants to manipulate or create social or ethnic tension. This is simply a knee-jerk reaction to fear in people’s lives. … The best driving force in politics if you want to win an election is the use of fear. Fear is a very powerful tool.”
    Why now?
    “It’s by and large because people have lost the feeling that they control their own lives. The world is changing so quickly, you’re no longer sure you’ll have a job from the beginning of your career until the end.  … You’re no longer sure that your next door neighbor or you will be safe. … Just imagine all that insecurity amassed around people. … What am I going to do? What are my children going to do?
    “This is the first time since the second world war that the middle class in the Netherlands and in Europe has this feeling that we’re in decline. We no longer believe in progress. … This is the background we need to understand – a feeling of loss of control.”

    What should we do to restore community?
    “We need to create more storylines. We need to get the storylines about why each of us came to the Netherlands. What happened in your life? How do you see the future of your children? We need to talk to each other about this—and not just stay within our communities.”

CLICK ON THE VIDEO SCREEN screen that appears below to see this short portion of Timmermans’ talk.


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    (Originally published at https://readthespirit.com/)

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