Walking through Budapest’s Liberty Square (Szabadsad Ter in Hungarian), it is impossible to miss the WWII monument built to commemorate the 1944 occupation of Hungary by Nazi Germany—not because of its exceptional size or beauty, but because it is surrounded by a government barricade and a huge assortment of memorial pebbles, photographs, and other personal items, all placed there defiantly by enraged Hungarian protestors.
Indiana recently passed its own version of the 1993 federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), and quickly amended the bill following criticism of the new legislation. Now gay rights and religious freedom issues are again in the spotlight as the Supreme Court hears Obergefell v. Hodges on same-sex marriage. This week, Cornerstone examines these issues, asking contributors to address the following questions: To what extent should the religious freedom of small business owners protect them from having to act against their consciences? Would such protections open the door to wide-ranging and unjust discrimination against homosexuals, as many fear? What does a cost-benefit analysis reveal about RFRA legislation on the state level? What is at stake in Obergefell v. Hodges, and how does the case relate to state RFRAs? To what extent would a Supreme Court decision in favor of same-sex marriages impede free religious exercise?
In the beginning of January, a few days after my arrival in London, the Charlie Hebdo attacks took place. Knowing that I am on a study-abroad program in London, an American friend texted me to tell me to take care and stay alert as the Paris attacks might instigate a wave of violence across the Western world against people who appear to be Muslim.
Studying in Paris has been a pleasure. Paris is the métropole, the center of what can be seen as the French essence. It is almost easy to forget that France is a nation made up of millions of people from twenty-seven regions, five of which are overseas, while walking down the rue to class with a warm croissant and a thick chocolat chaud in hand.
When walking through the popular university areas of Seoul, you’ll see the streets lined with coffee shops, bars, and fortune tellers. Korea is one of the world’s leading nations both politically and economically; I hadn’t imagined the extent to which spirituality pervades daily life. As it turns out, Korea is a fairly superstitious society, with these superstitions having their roots in a variety of traditions. One of these traditions, the tradition in which these fortune tellers are based, is Korean Shamanism.
On Monday, I attended a celebratory luncheon for the Doyle Engaging Difference Fellowship. Doyle fellows in attendance excitedly shared their research with representatives from the Berkley Center and departments across Georgetown University. The Doyle initiative focuses on diversity, tolerance, and understanding. As I walked back to campus from an inspiring lunch, I was shocked to see neon signs with vitriolic slurs bobbing outside the front gates of Georgetown. Members and supporters of the Westboro Baptist Church shouted anti-homosexual hatred toward Healy Tower.
“That day, all the Sneetches forgot about stars/And whether they had one, or not, upon thars.” It only seems appropriate to begin my reflection on the Doyle Engaging Difference Fellowship with the same Dr. Seuss quote with which I inaugurated this experience. Dr. Seuss’ message in Sneetches is predicated on the same idea that inspired my application for the Doyle Program. I wanted to further investigate why we think of the world in categories, distinctions, and dichotomies. We consistently qualify ourselves by the groups to which we belong—and also those to which we don’t belong. But, why? Why have such strong divisions persisted to this day? Is there a way to eliminate them and how long must we wait for this ideal to become a reality?
While hitting the snooze button on my phone alarm for the second time, I tried to remember why would I even set an alarm for 8 a.m. on a Saturday morning. As a college student and a part-time intern, Saturday and Sunday mornings are allocated for “catch-up sleep,” whatever it is that it entails. As I attempted to fall back asleep, I remembered that I had made plans to stop by the Universalist National Memorial Church and volunteer with the non-profit charity, Food for All DC. I jumped out of bed, freshened up, and made my way to the metro station as quickly as I could, recalling that their website had stated that they start at 9 a.m. sharp. Once outside, I couldn’t help but notice and be grateful that the weather finally seemed to have taken a turn away from the chilling winter cold. The streets were lively and the metro was packed on this Saturday morning. I was reminded once again that it was “Cherry Blossoms” season, and actually the weekend of the annual festival. It was certainly a beautiful sight, but one that evoked exasperation within me at times, due to how crowded Washington, DC becomes for these two weeks. Little did I know that I would be reflecting on that hurried and trivial half an hour of my morning commute once I was on my way back home after volunteering with Food for All DC.
Bloggers this week responded to the Global Futures talk by former Prime Minister Tony Blair on April 23 at Georgetown, on the topic of governance and development in Africa.
At the turn of the last century Jane Addams and a few kindred spirits led a movement designed to change the social fabric of Chicago where marginalized immigrants suffered exploitative labor practices, inhumane housing conditions, and outright discrimination, to a place where laws protected people in the workplace and at home and cultural differences were celebrated, not despised. Jane Addams bridged the cultural barrier of her upper class background and met the residents she wanted to help by putting down roots in the community. She did this through Hull House, a building that served as a meeting place, art gallery, education and cultural center, and home. The key to the concept was for the activists to live in and be a part of the community they wanted to help.