In my last post I referenced the resultant microscopism that comes from situating one’s identity in the political realm—the dehumanized, dehumanizing effects of viewing the world through a political lens.
There are a lot of voices out there right now who are championing the cause of the humane, and Brandon Stanton is one of them. Stanton is, for all intents and purposes, a street photographer—specifically a portraiture . However, his tender, non-critical treatment of his subjects is the poignant power behind what he does.
While typically shooting and captioning his subjects around the Big Apple, he will on occasion take his act on the road. He is currently in Brazil.
The picture and caption below illustrate Stanton’s ability to bring us into human stories. If we are going to grow more philanthropic, it is important to make it the soil in which we plant ourselves.
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“People who see us from the outside think that our greatest struggle is the disability. It’s not. Our greatest struggle is that we’d fallen out of love with each other. I lost a lot of my independence when Tatiana was born. I fell into a depression. He was working a lot. We grew distant. I didn’t think I could ever love him again. Two years ago I prayed one night, and said: ‘God, you’ve done so much. Please grant me one more miracle and make me love him again.’ The first change came from me. He’s always been the easygoing one, so I had to change first. I started trusting more. I tried to be more forgiving and understanding. I started to cook for him and organize things around the house. And he started spending more time at home. We started enjoying each other’s company. We talked about things other than diseases. And we started going out together– just like this. It was like I suddenly met a friend, who became my best friend, who became my love. And our life started over again.” (São Paulo, Brazil)
The camera is seldom trained on Stanton himself, but this interview on CNN will give you a glimpse into his character.
It’s a 2 minute segment.
NPR’s Shankar Vedantam‘s short piece on the Becoming A Man (BAM) project in Chicago, where researchers and community activists are working together to combat violence by helping young men respond instead of react—addressing the automaticity of violence.
Two thoughts from this:
- Isn’t this something we all need to confront in ourselves? (I.e., destructive knee-jerk reactions aren’t something that is limited to disadvantaged youth.)
- Doesn’t the program’s limited effectiveness over time speak volumes about the ongoing indispensableness of healthy community?
It’s a 5 minute segment.
Julia Carpenter (social media editor at The Washington Post) volunteers herself for journalist Yvonne Leow ‘s “Hello Project“, which is a project dedicated to creating virtual conversations between people with divergent views and values.
She became curious about the topic upon recognizing her inability to connect deeply with her Cambodian mother.
As a journalist and as a second-generation American who has struggled to understand her Cambodian mother, Leow said she believes deeply in storytelling’s power to connect different people.
“Watching this election unfurl itself in the past couple of months, it’s been a disheartening experience, because there’s been a lot of rhetoric being thrown on either side, and we tend to miss the big picture, which is, we’re all humans at the end of the day trying to understand one another,” she said.
It’s an admirable aim. Maybe Leow represents a needed constructive upswell in our society.
It’s a quick 7 minute read.
VAN JONES (THE MESSY TRUTH)
Van Jones is a Yale educated Lawyer, political activist and current rising star at CNN. He is now hosting a weekly show called “The Messy Truth”.
He’s a self-avowed liberal, and I’ll be curious to see where his show goes because, prior to the election, I was impressed by the series of conversations he initiated in Gettysburg, PA with Trump supporters. (First hosted on his Facebook page under the name “The Next Civil War” but now re-packaged on his website under the series “The Messy Truth”.)
His liberal perspective is obvious (i.e., he isn’t pretending to be “unbiased”), but give him credit for making the effort to engage in productive conversation with “the other side.” We need more such initiatives.
The first installment is probably the best, and it’s 10 minutes long.
ONBEING (WITH KRISTA TIPPETT)
Krista Tippett is a journalist with an extensive global background. She graduated from Brown in 1983, and received an MDiv from Yale 10 years later.
Her interview style was described in a 2010 New York Times feature the following way:
The Tippett style represents a fusion of all her parts — the child of small-town church comfortable in the pews; the product of Yale Divinity School able to parse text in Greek and theology in German; and, perhaps most of all, the diplomat seeking to resolve social divisions.
She is best known for her podcast OnBeing, where she interviews politicians, journalists, faith-leaders and others with an eye to bringing spirituality into the conversation.
I hold that lasting change (even conversion) must take place in respectful contexts, where one party respects the other and their current progress in life’s task of understanding what it’s all about (something I wrote about a few weeks ago).
For this reason, I value Tippett’s approach, and the way she has winsomely brought faith and spirituality into a broader conversation—both dignifying its place and those with whom she interacts simultaneously in the process. (This is also something we need more of these days!)
A typical OnBeing episode is 50 minutes (edited) and 1 hr+ unedited.