Myanmar: When Nationalism Gets Violent – Combating Extremism

Dear Friends:

Often, it is easy to feel disconnected from world events. But what we are seeing in Myanmar, fervent nationalism—at the expense of religious respect for diversity—is tragically, and dangerously, a current global phenomenon.

Since we sent you our most recent Combating Extremism campaign resources about the Rohingya Crisis only a few weeks ago, the U.N. Secretary-General has called for Myanmar to grant the Rohingya, now a stateless people, legal status. He has also called for an end to the violence against the Rohingya, and for the more than 600,000 Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh to return home—though many of their homes were burned to the ground.

The crisis is still so severe that two U.S. Congressmen have publicly called for the U.S. to take action to help end the ethnic cleansing. And there are also reports that U.S. senators are looking to pass legislation that sanctions the Myanmarese military and their business interests.

To fully understand this crisis—and other crises in which religion and nationality are linked—it is important to understand the history of a people. That is why for this month’s installment of Combating Extremism, we dig even deeper into the Rohingya Crisis and Rohingya identity.

With vigilance,
Joyce S. Dubensky

Synchronicity: MLK’s Birthday and the Inauguration

Dear Friends,

There’s a powerful synchronicity that within a single week, we—as a nation—are both honoring Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a man who, motivated and empowered by his faith, fought for equality and justice, and that just four days later, we are inaugurating a new president, who will assume responsibility for uniting a divided nation still struggling with the same values for which Dr. King gave his life.

It’s almost as if this timing is intentional, demanding that we all take a good hard look at our current state of affairs both at home and abroad. Most obviously, extremists across many faiths are claiming religion to justify the use of violence to achieve power and political ends.

That’s why it is more important than ever that, today, we pause and truly recognize Dr. King. Not only for all he accomplished for the Civil Rights Movement but also for the way he accomplished it—with an unshakeable commitment to nonviolence, based in his faith.

Dr. King reminds us that religion never justifies violence. That violence doesn’t equal power. And that a true leader serves everyone.

Dr. King’s legacy proves that there’s another way, a better way for us to empower one another–whether as an ordinary man or woman, or as the President of the United States.

World peace through nonviolent means is neither absurd nor unattainable. All other methods have failed. Thus we must begin anew. Nonviolence is a good starting point. Those of us who believe in this method can be voices of reason, sanity, and understanding amid the voices of violence, hatred, and emotion. We can very well set a mood of peace out of which a system of peace can be built.

 – Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Today is a day to remember. And for all of us to be inspired to emulate all that Dr. King stood for.

Pausing to remember,

Joyce S. Dubensky

Papal Potential: What Will Be Pope Francis’ Legacy?

Below is the beginning of an article that Tanenbaum's CEO, Joyce Dubensky, just authored for the Huffington Post.  You can find the full article here.

The world is watching as the Catholic Church embarks on a new era with its 266th leader, Pope Francis. Much is being written about this man as he steps onto the world stage. Stories detail how he has lived his faith as a servant of the poor. Others examine his traditional views on contemporary debates, including the role of women in the church and equality for men and women who are gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgender. Some articles assess the importance of the church having leadership from the Global South, focus on his conduct during the Argentine "Dirty War," and even describe why he assumed the name Francis, in recognition of the saint known for his dedication to the poor, to peace and to all living things.

In setting his agenda, the new pope has already talked about peace, optimism and the poor. This is a powerful vision, but the specifics of this agenda will only emerge over time. When we look back on the tenure of this new pope, I hope we will see that this vision included being a powerful global advocate and a voice for ending religious prejudice, hatred and violence…