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Election 2016: Now What?

Dear Friends,

Election 2016 (and the years of escalating acrimony that preceded it) has shaken our core beliefs about ourselves and our country. Across our nation, we’ve lost a sense of shared values about what it means to be an American, to live in the United States, and how to be great in the 21st century. Political leaders defined opponents as the “other” while touting fallacies as truths. We heard them, and we believed them. Why? Because we don’t talk with each other.

Now, we are left with a fractured American identity, fictionalized realities that breed stereotypes—and tribalism that is too often rooted in our religious, ethnic and social differences. But there is an antidote: listening to one another.

We haven’t been doing much of that lately. Instead, we’ve heard people talking over one another, loudly declaring their truths and demonizing those who are different. The result was predictable. Right now, we find ourselves in separate camps – women and workers; Hispanics, Blacks and whites; Jews, Christians and Muslims; the alt-right, the passionate populists and the progressives.

So this is a moment of choice. We can remain among our tribal comrades and view others as a threat. Or, we can find our way out of the pit.

One place to start is with dialogue. All too often dismissed, engaging in deep exploration with someone of opposing beliefs can be a more courageous act than taking up arms. It can arouse deep-seated issues of identity, vulnerability, and a sense of being wronged. And it can also open up possibilities for understanding.

This election has left our nation battered. Now, we need to find ways to move forward, to find ways to cooperate and, at the very least, to practice tolerance of one another. One way is to adopt listening as our civic duty – not necessarily to agree, but to hear others and reject dehumanization. Really hearing one another can be an act of compassion, and a practical and potent weapon for change. It is a way back to respect

At Tanenbaum we think of it this way. Tolerance is our bare minimum. Respect for the humanity in each of us is our vision. And if “we the people” take the first step, start talking with each other and recognize our shared humanity, perhaps our leaders will follow.

With ears open,

Joyce S. Dubensky
CEO

Girl shot by Taliban speaks out: Tanenbaum’s Top 5 News Stories

Malala Yousafzai, Girl Shot by Taliban, Makes Appeal at U.N. • Report: Americans hold different views of what “religious” means COMMENTARY: The truth about religious freedom in the military • Atheist Study Reveals That Non-Believers Are Just As Varied As People Of Faith • Zimmerman trial verdict filters into pews and pulpits

Last week's top stories, from our perspective:

Malala Yousafzai, Girl Shot by Taliban, Makes Appeal at U.N.
In a speech at the United Nations on her 16th birthday, Malala Yousafzai, who was shot in the head by the Taliban for promoting education for girls in Pakistan, called on world leaders to provide “free, compulsory education” for every child.

“Let us pick up our books and our pens,” Ms. Yousafzai told young leaders from 100 countries at the United Nations Youth Assembly in New York. “They are our most powerful weapons. One child, one teacher, one book, and one pen can change the world. Education is the only solution.” (Photo credit from The Guardian, T Mughal/EPA)

Report: Americans hold different views of what “religious” means
What does it mean to be a religious person? A new study shows a divide between those who believe it's about acting morally and those who equate it with faith. Nearly six out of 10 Americans (59 percent) say that being a religious person “is primarily about living a good life and doing the right thing,” as opposed to the more than one-third (36 percent) who hold that being religious “is primarily about having faith and the right beliefs.”

COMMENTARY: The truth about religious freedom in the military
Rev. Gaddy, president of the Interfaith Alliance, and Rev. Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, challenge the assertion that there is a war against Christians in the U.S. military. An excerpt:

Our government and our military must protect the rights of all members of the armed forces regardless of faith or belief. And they must be blind to the virtues of any one faith over another. All service members should feel comfortable practicing their faith — or not practicing any faith — as they protect our nation.

Atheist Study Reveals That Non-Believers Are Just As Varied As People Of Faith
Researchers at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga report that atheists are just as heterogenous of a group as people of faith, in a study done by doctoral student Christoper F. Silver and project manager Thomas J. Coleman III.

Many previous religious surveys placed people without religious beliefs into a catch-all category known as the "religious nones," but that oversimplifies the wide spectrum of opinions that fall into that group. The report idenfified six different groups of religious non-believers: Intellectual Atheist/Agnostics (IAA), Activist Atheist/Agnostics (AAA), Seeker Agnostics (SA), Antitheists, Non-theists and Ritual Atheist/Agnostics (RAA).

Zimmerman trial verdict filters into pews and pulpits
Clergy around the country spoke to congregants about the Zimmerman trial last weekend. This Washington Post article examines some of those clergy members in and around DC.