A story of new neighbors [excerpt]

I would estimate that there were 125 to 150 of them. Teenagers, all of them. They all had on a red name badge and many were carrying large backpacks. Nearly all had dark hair and skin some shade of brown. A majority of the females were wearing various head coverings — shaylas and khimars.

They had just arrived the night before, and many of them had a look on their face that’s hard to describe — a mix of eager anticipation, apprehension, and tenacious attentiveness. Some seemed really anxious about doing something wrong. One girl stopped me and asked me if it was OK to pour her drink out.

At the same time, there was laughter and talking. They whispered and giggled like any other teenagers. As they sat down with their breakfast, they didn’t spread out or leave a chair between themselves and the next person like I and my colleagues tended to do — they seemed to crowd into as few tables as possible next to each other. A few who had smartphones went to the edge of the table to take a group selfie.

I tried to read their name badges as they walked by me. Below their names, many of which I probably couldn’t pronounce correctly, were the names of different countries. Liberia, Pakistan and Bahrain were among the ones I saw... [read the full article at Baptist News Global]


Joining the Team [excerpt]

All institutions begin as some sort of movement or local effort. People believe in something or see a need and organize to make it happen. There is a common goal and mutual understanding. Often, in the terminology of 20th-century sociologist Herbert Blumer, there is then formalization and institutionalization. Movements become institutions in order to improve efficiency, secure funding, centralize leadership, etc.

However, over time, if people do not remain as active participants, or if later generations are not educated about the essence and purpose, they eventually disassociate themselves from the institution of which they were once a collaborative part. That which was once the work of the people becomes seen as a separate entity apart from the people, and sometimes even the bane of the people.

That’s an oversimplified version of how, for example, what started with the Hague Congress eventually became Brexit.

It’s also how a pledge of “our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor,” and a Constitution for a new government, eventually became the wave of “don’t tread on me” hyper-individualism that we see today.

There is a lot of fear and anger, as well as dissatisfaction with the status quo. A lot about it is justified or understandable. But I fear it’s causing us to shoot ourselves in the foot... [read the full article at Baptist News Global]