What the United States can learn from Canada about navigating division and trauma

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Celebrations outside the White House after Joseph R. Biden was declared the winner of the 2020 Presidential Election. Creative Commons.

Most of us in Canada can breathe easier now.

Our southern neighbor’s season of drama appears to be finally ending.

On the day the US presidential election was called for Joe Biden, I was in New York City, where people were singing and dancing in the streets — an epic release of pent-up exuberance in a time of pandemic.

Yet, for all the excitement, I have had a sinking feeling that the underlying challenge of Trumpism won’t be overcome with an election, no matter how resounding. There are deep resentments at play. …


The latest Encyclical offers vital ideas for healing global crises

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Living in the age of COVID-19, there are five words that most of us hear in virtually every conversation: “When this is all over.”

Whether it’s a couple months or a couple years away, the thinking goes that the crisis will be over someday soon, and we will return to business as usual.

In a major new essay released on October 3rd, Pope Francis offers a poignant rejection of this pervasive assumption.

We are in a different world. There is no turning back. The only positive path forward is to thoroughly transform the social fabric of our global system.

“The Covid-19 pandemic unexpectedly erupted, exposing our false securities,” Pope Francis writes in his new Encyclical “Fratelli Tutti,” named for the Latin words of St. Francis of Assisi: “We are all brothers and…


Global Protests for Are Awakening Bold New Possibilities

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Demonstrators in Trafalgar Square, London. Credit: Matt Dunham/Associated Press

As people around the world march in solidarity with the Movement for Black Lives, there’s a clear message: justice for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and others requires making systemic change. While these murders have sparked global awareness, the activism that underlies the protests have deep history. Today, there are hopeful signs emerging. …


How Building a Culture of Belonging Can Help Us Meet the Challenges of this Pandemic and Prevent Future Ones

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Credit: AFP

The current coronavirus pandemic is forcing us to answer some essential questions about our interconnectedness.

We are clearly more interconnected than we’ve ever been. Look at our ability to trade, communicate, and interact with one another over long distances. And look at the speed of contagion of a global pandemic. A tiny virus that originates in a wildlife market in Wuhan, China, can, within months, spread across the entire world — so that today nearly everyone on the planet is having to shift their lives because of it.

It’s natural to say in response to a crisis such as this: “We’re all in this together.”


Leaving the EU is a false answer to a real human yearning.

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Pro-Brexit demonstrators celebrating in London as the the UK officially left the EU. (Credit: Simon Dawson/Reuters)

Of all the historic high-stakes policy decisions in recent memory, Brexit might have been the most unabashedly emotional. While some backers of the “leave” campaign have pointed to economic opportunities like new trade agreements with the United States or practical considerations like a reduction of bureaucratic red tape, the underlying force of the movement was unmistakable:

Brexit was a cry for belonging.

People in the UK and around the world are longing for renewed experience of rich connection, power, and purpose in the age of global media, markets, and culture. As Harvard philosopher Michael Sandel has put it “people feel less and less in control of the forces that govern their lives.” …


Exploring the biological case for deeper connection

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The Crystal Bridges Museum, site of the 2019 Sages and Scientists Conference. Source: https://crystalbridges.org/

Over the weekend, I got a firsthand glimpse of how expert opinion on health is rapidly evolving.

I spoke on a panel at the Sages and Scientists conference, which was held this year in Arkansas. It’s a gathering of academic medical researchers, technologists, philosophers, contemplatives, and business leaders from around the world, all focused on questions of how to boost well-being and health for humanity. While the roster included chairs of venture capital firms, Ivy League deans, teaching physicians, and other high priests of mainstream expertise, the “credo” of the conference was downright countercultural:

“Consciousness can help us find the solution to any challenge.”


Mayor Pete’s new plan for addressing addiction and mental illness shows the way.

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Source: Wikimedia Commons

It’s hard to talk about belonging in politics.

Questions about whether we feel “at home” in our communities, schools, workplaces, and civic organizations can be deeply personal. These subjective questions don’t fit neatly into the boxes of public policy, economics, or law. And yet, questions of belonging are at the heart of what politicians everywhere should be talking about and thinking about in the 21st Century. We all need a sense of belonging in order to thrive — emotionally, intellectually, physically. There’s now great and growing empirical evidence that we need social connection as well as purpose and a sense of place in order to lead healthy lives. …


She built solidarity and transformed stigma.

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Last month, I travelled to Cape Cod for a gathering commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the Special Olympics Movement. It was a beautiful event by the sea in the summer sun, an opportunity to visit with people I admire, and a time to celebrate a world-changing program that’s been a tremendous inspiration in my life.

One of the joys of the trip to the Cape was the chance to reconnect with a kind, courageous, sensitive young friend with whom I’ve long shared a bond. Saoirse Kennedy Hill decided at an early age to devote herself to the work of transforming social stigma — whether related to mental illness, sexual violence, isolation, or depression. Saoirse and I spent time together reflecting on our personal journeys, our struggles, our shared passions, and the question of how to make a meaningful impact in these complicated times. …


There’s a moral necessity to recognize and address the refugee crisis on our own continent.

Kim Samuel and Jessica Farber

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IOM / Rafael Rodríguez. Central American migrants arriving in the town of Matías Romero, Oaxaca in November 2018

Today, April 4th, is Refugee Rights Day in Canada. It’s an annual opportunity to raise awareness of an essential reality: People who have been forced to flee their homes deserve sanctuary, legal recognition, and the basic resources they need to lead healthy and dignified lives.

Canada has been a leader with respect to refugee issues. …


Here’s how we can build on the century-old legacy of global human rights to solve the modern crisis of social isolation.

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Eleanor Roosevelt and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948. Credit: The National Archives (US)

One hundred years ago, some of the world’s brightest minds were assembled together in the French countryside to try to achieve something unprecedented: a global legal framework for the defense of human rights. Europe had just emerged from the ravages of WWI, and the diplomats, planners, and scholars assembled in Versailles in 1919 saw their work as nothing short of essential for human survival.

They were right. While the League of Nations — which they formally proposed in June of that year — didn’t ultimately succeed, it did lay the groundwork for vital future human rights compacts. …

About

Kim Samuel

Founder, Samuel Centre for Social Connectedness. Fierce believer in the right to belong.

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