Understand others. Understand yourself.

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Talking to Strangers, Trusting Each Other

Posted on 07/01/2015

Over the last couple of weeks I've been working through what I've found to be a must-read book by Danielle Allen, called Talking to Strangers: Anxieties of Citizenship since Brown v. Board of Education. Allen’s key argument is that modern democracies have been founded on a notion of unity as the imaginary touchstone for the existence of the will of the people.

Learning to Say Yes to No

Posted on 04/09/2015

In every performance evaluation I have ever received, I have been told by a well-meaning supervisor: “If you are stressed out, you need to practice saying no.” And every time, this makes me crazy. As a young female professional in a “Lean In” world, saying no seems antithetical to the dream of having it all, or at least having what will make me happy. Saying no also means I will miss out on some opportunities and that people may be disappointed or angry with me. In short, saying no feels impossible. I know I’m not alone in this.

Allowing Me To Live

Posted on 03/16/2015
My parents didn’t grow up in Richmond, where I was raised—Dad, Brooklyn and Mom, Philadelphia. Both the children of the children of the children of immigrants, my parents had very modest upbringings. Why wasn’t an agreeable lifestyle introduced to the family several generations ago? Where was the American dream? “It’s a different world, Rebecca,” is the response I usually got.  Sure, Dad could tell me stories about all the live shows he saw on Broadway, but he was leaving out the bits about dirty, crowded Subways and saving for months.

Ask Big Questions Receives Outstanding Program award from ACPA!

Posted on 03/02/2015

Ask Big Questions has been selected to receive the inaugural Outstanding Program award by the Commission for Spirituality, Faith, Religion & Meaning at the American College Personnel Association (ACPA).

Ask Big Questions, an initiative of Hillel International, brings diverse college students together for conversations that help people better understand themselves and others. These conversations create community and inspire action.

Disagreement as a Demonstration of Love

Posted on 02/24/2015

For me, disagreement is a fundamental demonstration of love. That we care enough about the person and ideas we are passionate about to engage them. The defining issue is our ethic of how we choose to disagree.

Understandably, activists for any type of cause get mired in actions that often make people angry on one end of a spectrum or another. Remember: To live in community is to live in conflict.

We cannot be in community with others unless we are also willing to engage deeply enough to have conflict and disagreement.

Building a Resilient Community

Posted on 02/13/2015

How do we disagree? Depending on the day I’ve had, the weather outside, and the people I’m surrounded by, I have conflicting opinions.

When I’m in a primal state, like at the gym, I believe we disagree like wild animals- our nervous system tells us to fight, flight, or freeze.

After a poetry reading, I feel just the opposite.  “We have consciousness!” I argue. “We disagree like philosophers!  Like rational beings!”

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