by Jim King
One of my favorite activities is browsing for book & LP treasures at Half Price Books & Records. For those that do not live near me or that do not know what Half Price Books & Records stores are, you are missing out. Trust me!
On a recent excursion into one of these treasure troves, I found a 2006 Amartya Sen book I did not have, “Identity and Violence: The Illusion of Destiny”. As I read the Prologue, I decided to share a paragraph with y’all because of how global issues, in general, and U.S. issues, specifically, have me feeling right now. I hope that Sen’s words speak to you today:
“Our shared humanity gets savagely challenged when the manifold divisions in the world are unified into one allegedly dominant system of classification – in terms of religion, or community, or culture, or nation, or civilization (treating each as uniquely powerful in the context of that particular approach to war and peace). The uniquely partitioned world is much more divisive than the universe of plural and diverse categories that shape the world in which we live. It goes not only against the old-fashioned belief that “we human beings are all much the same” (which tends to be ridiculed these days – not entirely without reason – as much too softheaded), but also against the less discussed but much more plausible understanding that we are diversely different. The hope of harmony in the contemporary world lies to a great extent in a clearer understanding of the pluralities of human identity, and in the appreciation that they cut across each other and work against a sharp separation along one single hardened line of impenetrable division.”
Why do I include the above in a blog post entitled “Something Nu From ChangeU”? Because Sen’s words relate very closely to the following announcement. Read on…
From the beginning, ChangeU has intended to be a portal into how to effect change; to be a place of education and educating; to be a supporter of those involved with making a difference in our shared world. One of the planned components of ChangeU is a section related to online courses and webinars related to making a difference and/or effecting change. We still plan to unfold that part of the website by September 1. However, a free course of very pertinent content related to current world events – and related to Sen’s words in the above excerpt – that we choose now to share our plans with everyone and to make you aware of this new course. There might be no better way to kick off this new “side” of ChangeU.
+Acumen (www.plusacumen.org), in their own words, “is a growing network of social change leaders”. They have just introduced a new free course entitled “In the Name of Identity: Violence and the Need to Belong” (http://plusacumen.org/courses/in-the-name-of-identity-violence-and-the-need-to-belong/). The course starts within the week and only takes four hours. Please at least check out what the website says about the course before you decide that you do not have four hours to invest in the course.
Just in case you do not have time to read everything that is on the +Acumen website, here is an excerpt directly from the website of the course:
“The headlines have been filled with reports of terrorism, mass shootings, protests on college campuses and a refugee crisis. The world too often feels intractably polarized along lines of identity. How should we respond? In his 1996 book, In the Name of Identity: Violence and the Need to Belong, the Lebanese-born French writer Amin Maalouf does not offer easy answers. Yet, his text helps us explore the multiple dimensions of identity; understand the roots of violence and tribalism; and recognize the value of embracing multiple allegiances and affiliations. Throughout history, most large-scale acts of violence — whether the genocides, the Holocaust, or wars — have been committed in the name of identity: one tribe against another, one religion against another, one nation against another.
In this course, you’ll have a chance to join a global conversation about Maalouf’s writings and larger questions of identity in light of current events. You’ll receive a discussion kit complete with a downloadable version of the text, a step-by-step facilitator’s guide and background materials that will equip you to host a small group of friends or colleagues in a 2-hour discussion of the first five chapters of Maalouf’s book. The course will also give you tools to reflect on your own identity and think about it in relation to the larger historical and cultural factors that Maalouf lays out.”
Please plan to join the students at Change University by sitting in on this extremely timely free course offered by +Acumen.
(Editorial note: ChangeU receives no compensation for announcing any of the courses noted on the website or mentioned in any other way. Additionally, ChangeU is not responsible for any content or comments that are parts of such courses.)
Dr. Jim King is the President of Change University. You may read more about him at the bottom of the page at this link: