Mauritius Embracing Diversity

Mauritius, 2017

Survival Requirement: Embracing Diversity

Dr. Roxanne Meshar, M.Div., D.Min.

Thank you for your invitation and generous hospitality! Also I’d like to thank Mary’s Pence (maryspence.org) for their endorsement letter and ongoing support of my work. It is an honor for me to be here with all of you.

My professional background is posted here.

In order for participants to more easily view or translate my presentation (using a smart phone), the presentation slide text follows.

Creator Spirit

Help us respond to our call to be members of one family.

Guide us to constant peaceful concern for sisters and brothers throughout the world.

Make us mindful of the needs of those who endure the injustices of war, hunger, poverty,

that we may live in harmony and unity with others.

Renew our commitment to our global family.

Beyond Borders, Catholic Relief Services

 

There is no “objective” reporting or writing

  • Every article, book, report has a point of view – cultural, historical, linguistic, geographical or psychological
  • The question:  is the bias disclosed?

 

Whose story
and how we tell it

  • History of American First Nations
  • History of chattel slavery in North America
  • Who decides? Who benefits?

 

Learn how to identify events and systems

  • Creating a system of under privilege and over privilege in the U.S.
    • Representative government benefits elites
    • Pay for education with property taxes
  • Always ask, “Who benefits?”

 

Wealth transfer and poverty creation in our time

  • Inequality in pay creates generational poverty
  • Charity – who benefits?
  • Unregulated capitalism allows unethical businesses to monopolize industries, create laws for their own benefit

 

What to do?

  • Help build awareness and empathy “muscles”
  • Develop and enrich our own personhood through engagement with those who are different

 

Exercises can build diversity awareness and empathy

  • Identify our own social location
  • “Simon Says” or My View games
  • Games can teach values of sharing, cooperation, inclusion

 

Embracing diversity is not optional – it is required for our survival

  • Diversity creates cultural richness
  • Increases our curiosity about others
  • Builds awareness, empathy, resilience
  • Develops our personhood, humanity
  • Is a critical survival skill

 

Embracing diversity:

  • Informed by Christian Doctrine of Trinity
  • Political, subversive, dangerous
  • Yet essential for our survival and the survival of our planet

 

Workshop

  • Demonstration of fast, easy exercises for all ages
  • Helps to develop empathy and compassion “muscles” for life

Thank you. Merci.

The Workshop: Here you will see demonstrations of fun, quick and easy exercises that help build compassion and empathy (collected over the years and around the web) –

Simon Says uses the childhood game of the same name to show that not everyone begins life with the same advantages.

My View allows us to learn from points of view different from our own.

Stand Where You Stand – for now. Our opinions and ideas are always changing.

Describing our social location reminds us that our point of view is quite limited!

Popular games can also be a source of learning. Prophetopoly (by Jeff Dols, Monopoly in reverse), the game of Life and others can be played with the same rules, but the objectives are changed so that all are cared for. This helps build cooperation, compassion, empathy.

Over 500 Posts to Explore

InnerPacific is a collection of posts written over a number of years on topics that we as humans endlessly reflect on: God, life, death, love and justice to name a few. This is what theology is about – reflecting on our own life experience, insights from others over time (tradition), scripture readings along with logic and reason. All of this allows us to go deeper into our own life, helping to inform our spirituality, life choices and decisions.

To get started, select any of the main categories in the black bar across the top or select a topic area at the bottom of the page including food, books and films, the economy, women, green living or health and well being – and start your own exploration! You’re welcome to join the conversation by submitting your own thoughts or reflections in the comments section. There are over 500 posts here at InnerPacific to explore. How deep do you want to go?

Theology and Consumerism

Photo DesktopNexus.com

Photo DesktopNexus.com

I’ve not posted too much lately because I was asked to teach a J-Term class at the university where I work (think one month, January, fifteen weeks crammed into 18 days!). The course was on theology and consumerism. “What’s the connection?” you might ask. Well . . . everything. How we see God – loving, compassionate and present within each person, for example – influences how we make decisions regarding everything we buy or whether we buy anything at all.

For Christians (and others too) we believe there is an inherent responsibility to consume less in order to relieve the stresses caused by carbon and waste to our planet. There is concern for the 23 million human beings enslaved worldwide to produce cheap goods for industrialized countries. I live in an urban area (Twin Cities) that is sadly one of the centers of human trafficking in this country. Finally, there is a concern about the inhumane treatment given to many of the animals we consume.

In many ways this seems too overwhelming to consider. And yet we have a moral responsibility to do exactly that. However, education and changes can be made slowly over time. It’s a process that is on-going. Choosing to live more simply is a great way to start. It is a way to use less, take care with what is actually used and frees time to learn more about what and how we consume.

So this was the topic of the course. The students were engaged, thoughtful and brought excellent suggestions and ideas to their discussions. I am always amazed at how much young adults are already doing to learn more, help others and the earth. They are inspiring for sure! They inspired me most definitely!

How many planets would it take to support your lifestyle? Here is one of the links a student highlighted that calculates what our lifestyle choices mean for our planet. Get started. Click on the map and find out if you should consider living more simply.

You may also like Bottled Water? Yuck! and Earth Day.

 

Christmas Postcards From the Future

Photo: thelittlecorner.tumblr

Do we need Christmas postcards from the future? Maybe, because in order to see how things can be different we need a vision to move toward – to live into. What kind of future attracts us? What would attract you?

Christmas celebrates the incarnation of God (the good, joy, truth or beauty) in the world. This means that reality is fundamentally good and attractive to us – and we are a part of this reality. What about the world, then, attracts us?

This attracts me: a world that moves a bit slower, that is a little gentler, that watches out for each of us – no matter who we are.

Another attraction: a world rich in relationships that are mutually nourishing, deep, strong and transparent. This would be true for all kinds of relationships – with people, with institutions, with the environment.

I think postcards from the future arrive all the time – in our imaginations, in our dreams, in our interactions with others, in events in the world around us. But sometimes we aren’t paying attention, or have difficulty reading the postcard. The postcard is on the counter waiting for us, but we haven’t yet picked it up!

You may also like Surprised by the Spirit.

Life of Pi

Yan Martel’s book – now movie, The Life of Pi is an exciting and entertaining story. But better still is the question proposed to the viewer at the end: which is the better story?

For belief in God, the viewer is encouraged to ask the same question – which life is the more exciting, intriguing, compelling life? The one with the viewpoint embracing belief in God or the random life, purposeless life without God? And it’s not simply intellectual assent to the existence of God that is being asked here. What is being asked is our willingness or capacity to trust, thereby flinging ourselves headlong into life itself – with all of its unknowns and all of its risks.

For myself, I couldn’t imagine returning to life directed my own vision or desires. That was too small, too gray, too safe, too hopeless. Life directed by existence or reality itself (God if you will) is far more exciting, colorful and bewitching than anything I could have dreamed up. Once you taste champagne and caviar . . .

You may also like Tasting Caviar and Journey of the Universe.