The Correspondent

‘…we see what we believe.’

November 6, 2019

We think that we believe what we see. Actually, the opposite is true: we begin with belief, and then we see. What do you believe?

-Judith Lasater, PhD.

Think about trust…whom you put your trust in. Trust is earned.

-Alexandra Stoddard

ELIZA ANYANGWE:

‘Corporations and billionaires get tax cuts while convincing individuals that our consumer choices make the world a better place.

Today, managing editor Eliza Anyangwe makes one thing clear: we must let go of our misguided devotion to personal agency and take action alongside other people if we want to bring these systems down.

History shows that the only way to change the system is to stand with the people around us and fight it head on.

Individual action isn’t bad or meaningless – it’s completely natural – but it’s no substitute for tax reform, migration policy reform, criminal justice reform, intellectual property law reform, international trade law reform and so on.

It’s clear that when we have the means, we’re happy to act – recycle, buy ethical, go green – but we need to think beyond our individual actions and choices and learn to talk, plan, and get to work alongside others if anything is going to change.

On occasion, falling down the rabbit hole that is Instagram yields positive results. It was there, on the social media platform, where I learned that American writer Anand Giridharadas would be speaking in Amsterdam. And, as though the gods of procrastination were this once glad to reward me for my fealty, the event would be free.

And so off I went to listen to the best-selling author of talk about the fallacy of “win-win”. Our economic model, Giridharadas explained, was indeed creating winners – But, there were also losers, left to gather up the crumbs from under the table; and a new entrepreneurial class who believed in their ability to “do well and do good”.

[…]

(American writer Anand) Giridharadas offered an answer: perhaps the success of our current system was in part thanks to the ability of that system to focus our attentions on personal agency rather than systemic transformation.

I believed in the power of my own agency: if the social enterprise lark didn’t work, would choose an employer with a moral compass. And I would be a better consumer; picking products and services that were good for people and planet. Politicians didn’t listen, I reasoned, but corporations did, and they were in charge anyway, so I would vote with my “spending power” – boycotting those brands who had poor records on the things I cared about, and rewarding with my meagre income those companies who took their social responsibility seriously.

We scarcely consider the fact that for all of its virtues, ethical or conscious consumerism is no substitute for tax reform, migration policy reform, criminal justice reform, intellectual property law reform, international trade law reform and so on. What we have contented ourselves with doing instead is essentially playing the same game (consumerism) by the same rules (I buy, therefore I am). We’ve simply changed the ball (ethical products and services).

My guess is that we fear that if we weren’t doing this – buying better, recycling more, eating less meat – we would be doing nothing at all. We have lost sight of the value, or even the possibility, of collective action and it’s easy to see why.

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

But (this) will force me to reimagine what good I can do alongside other people, rather than in spite of them. I will see and hear the challenges of those who are most intimately affected by the issues, and maybe one day, when one of us has a grand idea that can “bring the whole system down”, we’ll know other foot soldiers who can stand alongside us.’

https://thecorrespondent.com/102/we-need-to-let-go-of-our-misguided-devotion-to-personal-agency/448868442-92556139

Rev. Masando Hiraoka, Mile Hi Church in Lakewood, Colorado:

“I’ve got to make a confession: I often find it hard to relate with the religious figures of the past. Feeling this, I can also breathe into the vows of the Buddhist who takes refuge in the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha as my grandfather took refuge in the Colorado, the only state that welcomed Japanese Americans during World War Ii.

This is why I love Colorado, why I take such pride in where I’m form. It was sanctuary, like the sanctuary that Medina became for Muhammad, peace be upon him, and the first Muslims who were expelled from their home, their holy land of Mecca, because they were considered a threat.

The restoration of dignity and the seeking of safety is part of our legacy.

I believe we know how do do this togetherness. We’ve been taking refuge in each other forever. So we continue this great tradition of staring over again and again and let the ancient ones of the past come back alive in the present through us.

The story of peace is encoded in our DNA. Refuge is written on our bones.”

Center for Action & Contemplation:

“Religion is undergoing a massive shift in perspective . . . as wrenching as the Copernican revolution, which required humanity to bid farewell to an Earth-centered understanding of our place in the cosmos. The religious revolution on the horizon today might well be called the “Evidential Reformation.” We humbly shift away from a human-centric, ethnocentric, and shortsighted view of what is important. At the same time, we expand our very identities to encompass the immense journey of life made known by the full range of sciences. In so doing, we all become elders of a sort, instinctively willing to do whatever it takes to pass on a world of health and opportunities no lesser than the one into which we were born.” –The Rev. Michael Dowd, Eco-theologian

Fr. Richard Rohr:

An evidential worldview has become crucial. We now know that evolutionary and ecological processes are at the root of life and human culture. To disregard, to dishonor, these processes through our own determined ignorance and cultural/religious self-focus is an evil that will bring untold suffering to countless generations of our own kind and all our relations. We must denounce such a legacy. Ours is thus a call to . . . sacred activism. [Twenty-five] years ago, Carl Sagan both chided and encouraged us in this way:

How is it that hardly any major religion has looked at science and concluded, “This is better than we thought! The universe is much bigger than our prophets said, grander, more subtle, more elegant. God must be even greater than we dreamed.” . . . A religion, old or new, that stressed the magnificence of the universe as revealed by modern science might be able to draw forth reserves of reverence and awe hardly tapped by the conventional faiths. Sooner or later, such a religion will emerge. [1]

[1] Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space (Random House Publishing: 1994), 50.

More from Fr. Rohr:

“However, if we truly want to be a part of the “Evidential Reformation,” we must each do our part to understand and share the ways science and our faith affirm one another.”

The universe is a single reality—one long sweeping spectacular process of interconnected events. The universe is not a place where evolution happens; it is evolution happening. It is not a stage on which dramas unfold; it is the unfolding drama itself. . . . This [great cosmological] story shows us in the deepest possible sense that we are all sisters and brothers—fashioned from the same stellar dust, energized by the same star, nourished by the same planet, endowed with the same genetic code, and threatened by the same evils. This story . . . humbles us before the magnitude and complexity of creation. . . . It bewilders us with the improbability of our existence, astonishes us with the interdependence of all things, and makes us feel grateful for the lives we have. And not the least of all, it inspires us to express our gratitude to the past by accepting a solemn and collective responsibility for the future. —Loyal Rue [1]

[1] Loyal Rue, Everybody’s Story: Wising Up to the Epic of Evolution (SUNY Press: 2000), 42-43.

“Few things are more important than how we think about our inner and outer nature and our mortality. Thus far, the Evidential Reformation has been centered in science. Now is the time for our faith traditions to honor evidential revelation—facts as God’s native tongue—and carry on the vital tasks of interpretation, integration, and action.

Ours is the prodigal species. Having squandered our inheritance, we are waking up to our painful predicament. Thankfully God—Reality personified—awaits us with open arms and a welcoming heart. As Thomas Berry would remind us, the entire Earth community is rooting us on!”  Rev. Michael Dowd

Fr. Rohr: “I believe we have squandered our inheritance, which is the earth itself, the majesties and mysteries it holds. We’ve taken it for granted, using it too freely for our own selfish purposes while ignoring the deeply divine messages communicated in everything from the smallest sub-atomic particle to the largest black holes. Surely it is time for us to bring science and religion together.”

Just as Augustine reinterpreted Christianity in light of Plato in the 4th century, and Aquinas integrated Aristotle in the 13th, today there are dozens of theologians across the spectrum re-envisioning the Christian faith. Whose ideas are they integrating now? Darwin, Einstein, Hubble, Wilson and all those who have corrected, and continually contribute to, an evidence-based understanding of biological, cosmic, and cultural evolution. . . .

Few things are more important than how we think about our inner and outer nature and our mortality. Thus far, the Evidential Reformation has been centered in science. Now is the time for our faith traditions to honor evidential revelation—facts as God’s native tongue—and carry on the vital tasks of interpretation, integration, and action. –Rev. Michael Dowd


 

THE POTENTIAL OF CITIZENS’ ASSEMBLIES

October 16, 2019

Democracy is supposed to be a system of ruling ‘by the people, for the people’, but representative democracy (democracy as it is practised in most of the west) actively and repeatedly keeps ‘the people’ out of the decision-making process.

Journalist Patrick Chalmers, an expert on political structures, looks to Athens – the birthplace of this modern, failing system – to find a better solution in citizens’ assemblies. 

An Athenian remedy: the rise, fall and possible rebirth of democracy

Aside from clashes between police and protestors, Athenians that summer held people’s assemblies, mass gatherings of strangers talking together in public spaces. These assemblies were what first brought Sagris to Syntagma Square with her mother Tatiana Skanatovits, an actress and assembly organiser. Daily meetings in front of parliament saw people tell their stories of crisis, debate alternatives, and decide on assembly actions.

The economic crisis triggered a well-documented political crisis, the irony of which is not lost on those from the country that gave the world democracy

“If we are talking about democracy, I believe that right now I’m not living in a democratic regime, so I don’t see why I should participate in a process like this,” he said the day before the ballot. “It hurts me deep in the soul to say that, but after 30 years I will not vote.”

For Aristotle, whether states were oligarchic or democratic was deeply ingrained in their ways of working – the politics of structure itself. He believed that cities that chose their office holders, jurors and judges by lottery were democratic and that those using elections were oligarchic – that’s Greek for government of, by, and for the few.

Citizens’ assemblies are happening everywhere from Australia to Canada, Bolivia to France.

The need to build trust and broad interest are also key. After decades of political apathy and the erosion of trust in elected representatives, citizens need faith in their own capacity to shape policy. And that of their peers. Knowing what examples of self-governance have worked, and how, certainly helps.

PATRICK CHALMERS

https://thecorrespondent.com/70/an-athenian-remedy-the-rise-fall-and-possible-rebirth-of-democracy/308046970-e7748531

Everyday Colonialism

October 9, 2019

The past is still present: why colonialism deserves better coverage

By Elliot Ross

 

Countries such as Britain and the USA also retain control over colonial territories. And let’s not forget the settler colonial countries such as Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the United States, where the colonisation of indigenous lands has been entrenched and institutionalised in the long-term.

Colonial domination not only shapes our ideas about race, but also strongly influences how people think about class, culture, gender, and sexuality

The roots of and corrupt government run deep. Purely cultural, explanations not only risk reproducing racist tropes, they mask the role of powerful international corporate interests in sustaining systems of resource extraction, profiteering, exploitation and  rent-seeking that sustain the underlying economic transactions that has always made colonialism financially profitable for colonisers.

Everyday Colonialism is also about probing my own status as a beneficiary of these long histories

https://thecorrespondent.com/32/the-past-is-still-present-why-colonialism-deserves-better-coverage/140821472-0acb8548

The Correspondent

September 19, 2019

‘After nine months of intensive preparation, over 2,000 job applications and dozens of interviews, we’re thrilled to introduce The Correspondent’s first five full-time correspondents.

Starting on 30 September, you’ll be able to follow them on our English-language platform, where they’ll join forces with our 50,000 members to investigate some of the major themes of our time.

While The Correspondent is a relatively small start-up, we’ve done our absolute best to put together a diverse team — both in terms of the topics our correspondents will be covering and the locations they’ll be reporting from.

After launching, we’ll introduce you to some of our freelance correspondents, who will be helping us to cover an even greater variety of topics and perspectives. We’ll also be translating internationally relevant pieces by a number of our Dutch correspondents into English in order to share their work — and their unique insights — with the rest of the world.’

At 28, OluTimehin Adegbeye (1991) may be the youngest member of our team of correspondents, but her CV speaks for itself.

Timehin’s work on political power structures, gender, and social inequality has been published in multiple languages around the world. She has written for a variety of publications including This Is Africa, Africa is a Country, and BellaNaija, and her 2017 TED Talk on the future of urban development has garnered well over two million views (and counting) — it’s no wonder her Wikipedia bio describes her as “a prominent figure among Nigerian and African feminists of her generation”.

As our correspondent covering the topic of Othering, she’ll investigate the myriad ways in which people are forced into the role of “the other” — in the media, in politics, and in everyday life. Her mission: to understand what divides us, in order to discover what unites us.

Read OluTimehin Adegbeye in her own words: “We must tell more complex and inclusive stories about human experience”

 

Eric Holthaus (Minnesota, United States)

If you’ve spent any time at all on Twitter, there’s a good chance you’ve encountered science journalist Eric Holthaus (1981) at some point. With nearly half a million followers, he’s one of the most influential voices in the debate surrounding one of the great challenges of our time: climate change.

A trained meteorologist, Eric combines an impressive grasp of climate science with an insatiable desire to find solutions to this problem. His work has previously appeared in The Washington Post, Rolling Stone, Slate and Grist, to name just a few.

As our Climate correspondent, Eric not only aims to shed light on the causes and consequences of climate change, but he also wants to enlist your help in answering the question: what needs to change between now and 2030 in order to avert a global climate crisis?

Read Eric Holthaus in his own words: “For too long, our conversations about the climate have been filled with despair”

 

Irene Caselli (Trento, Italy)

During our very first Skype meeting, Italian journalist Irene Caselli(1981) shared with us a startling insight: when it comes to who you are, who you’ll become, and the world you’ll grow up in, virtually nothing will have as great an impact as the first 1,000 days of your life.

After spending over a decade in Ecuador, Venezuela and Argentina reporting for major news outlets like the BBC, Deutsche Welle and The Washington Post, Irene will be joining our dream team here at The Correspondent.

On her beat, The First 1,000 Days, she’ll examine how our earliest years — a period that everyone experiences but no one remembers — have the power to shape not only the people we become, but also the societies we live in. From the influence of parental leave on economic inequality to the latest in brain development research to the long-term consequences of stress, Irene will explore issues that affect everyone, not just those of us with children.

Read Irene Caselli in her own words: “The first 1,000 days of human life are both essential and underreported”

Tanmoy Goswami (New Delhi, India)

During a week-long introductory session at our headquarters in Amsterdam, we asked all five of our correspondents to bring along an object with sentimental value. When it was his turn, Indian journalist Tanmoy Goswami (1983) opened his bag and drew out a small medical booklet about his dealing with depression.

This experience has proven to be an invaluable source of inspiration for his work as a journalist. Tanmoy, a self-described “mental-health nerd”, specializes in reporting on the science and economics of mental healthcare around the world.

His career path has taken him from Fortune India and Times Internetto his new home here at The Correspondent. In his role as our Sanitycorrespondent, he’ll continue his transnational quest to explore the many facets of modern mental health.

Read Tanmoy Goswami in his own words: “I hope to make mental illness less intimidating”

Nesrine Malik (London, United Kingdom)

As you might guess from the title of her new book, We Need New Stories, Nesrine Malik (1977) is a journalist on a mission: to seek out new ideas for a better world.

Born in Sudan, based in London, and frequently spotted in Cairo, Nesrine has been shaped by a variety of cultures, and she’s eager to find out what we can learn from them. Nesrine made a name for herself as a writer and columnist for The Guardian (you can read her column here) and was awarded the 2019 Orwell Prize for her work on identity politics.

As our Better Politics correspondent, she’ll embody one of The Correspondent’s core principles: we don’t just cover the problem, but also what can be done about it. So get ready to join Nesrine on her mission — we can’t wait to see what kinds of ideas our members come up with!

Read Nesrine Malik in her own words: “Objectivity preserves the status quo. With better journalism we can have better politics”

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More correspondents to come!

 

We hope you’ve enjoyed this sneak preview of our first five correspondents.

If you’d like to follow them on our platform starting on 30 September, join The Correspondent today. 

We’ll also be introducing a number of freelance correspondents and announcing which of our Dutch pieces will be made available in English soon, so stay tuned!

Let the countdown to 30 September begin!

Rob Wijnberg
Founding Editor

September 30th, 2019

February 17, 2019

The Correspondent will launch as your platform for unbreaking news on September 30, 2019.

In order to launch on September 30, we’ll build a team of correspondents that help us understand the world around us. As we start to do that, we want to get a better sense of what you — our 47,000 members — deem the most important developments or topics for them to cover.

We want to know: what development in the world do you consider underreported in the news and worthy of more attention? What do you experience on a daily basis in your work or personal life that should be front page news, but never is?

Some of you already shared your brilliant ideas with us during our crowdfunding campaign. Thank you to everyone who got in touch when we asked this question back in November.

Since then, an additional 30,000 members have joined our movement, so we want to give everyone another opportunity to contribute!

So, what topics and developments would you like The Correspondent to cover? Let us know here. 

We’ll carefully read all your suggestions, and they’ll shape the unbreaking news we create together!

Rob Wijnberg
Founding Editor

thecorrespondent.com

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