Re-thinking Solidarity: love, compassion and mercy

By Natasha Oviedo

While studying historical and contemporary conflicts, it is not uncommon for religion to be brought up as an inevitable source of division and oppression. This reductive perception of the role of religion in conflict and oppression was challenged through a discussion moderated by Lord Alderdice on the potential religion holds as a form of advocacy and community building. As a part of the Rethinking Solidarity webinar series, Lord Alderdice engaged Dr. Dariusz Karlowicz, Dr. Nazila Ghanea, Daniel Greenberg, and Fr Jaroslaw Kupczak OP in a dialogue that confronted the deep ties between solidarity and faith.

Lord Alderdice began the conversation with a reflection on Pope Francis’s recent encyclical Fratelli Tutti and its definition of solidarity grounded in “thinking and acting in terms of community” and a “responsibility for the fragility of others.” The encyclical stretches this conception of solidarity outside of the Catholic community through a re-telling of St. Francis of Assisi’s arduous trip to Egypt during the crusades where he met the Ayyubid sultan Al-Kamil. The process of interfaith diplomacy between a Catholic and Islamic leader during a contentious and violent period in history exemplifies how value for human rights and willingness to engage in dialogue transcends organized religion.

At the core of this dialogue reverberated a common theme: the manners in which values and ethics, including love, mercy, and community, form the foundation of grander acts of solidarity.

Fr Jaroslaw Kupczak framed solidarity as an ethical phenomenon or experience. Fr Kupczak’s perception of solidarity as an experience based on ethics enables interfaith solidarity despite the exclusivity of organized religions due to the ability for ethics to transcend religious and cultural organizations. Dr. Ghanea stressed the importance of defending and embracing spiritual values, which I interpret as the ethical values representing human decency that transcend specific organized faiths. Spiritual values bring meaning and life to a diverse array of individuals, and are imperative to fostering faith-based and spiritual solidarity.

Additionally, Dr. Ghanea argued that religious pluralism is an expression of the personal and historical human search for meaning. Even the decision to not search for meaning, or deny any meaning, is an important act of human agency within one’s personal journey. Thus, upholding the right for religious freedom and plurality is ultimately about protecting the “deepest human needs,” as articulated by Dr. Karlowicz, and the right to a fulfilling and meaningful life.

Humanity, Greenberg explained, is the common denominator that brings different faiths together. Human vulnerability and appreciation for the preciousness of human life are found within each of us regardless of religious associations, traditions, and identities.

And what is at the root of solidarity, empathy, mercy, appreciation for human life if not love? In theology, the Lord’s mercy represents solidarity with those who are weak, yearning, in need, and human. Dr. Karlowicz brings up love, “a strange word in politics this day,” claiming that solidarity is not a new or better form of social policy but rather about love. In Dr. Ghanea’s legal perspective, she compares human rights law to a vehicle and spiritual values as the fuel. Solidarity is not derived from policy, but rather human rights-based policy and law are outcomes of an energetic commitment towards love and humanity.

Lastly, dialectic communication and peace-based rhetoric construct the framework from which solidarity can be conceived between divided communities. St. Francis of Assisi and the sultan of Egypt Al-Kamil’s diplomatic gestures and solidarity towards one another and humanity were born from committed dialogue.

Fr Kupczak recounted the pilgrimage of Pope John Paul II to Poland during a communist reign suppressive of solidarity. While in Poland, Fr Kupczak described the “new language of peace” spoken by Pope John Paul II. The transformative power of dialogue and rhetoric rooted in peace led to a new sense of tolerance that created the groundwork for solidarity.

Human Rights law is another vehicle of dialogue, or what Dr. Ghanea referred to a language of support towards one another. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UNDHR) put forth by the United Nations, and the Articles contained within, communicate a set of principles and expectations towards humanity that protect social and global international order.

Love, compassion, and mercy are often missing in discourse on politics and law. However, it is these transcendent values that can successfully build strong bridges between faiths and cultures divided by language, space, and history. Our humanity and vulnerability hold more power to mend divisions and create powerful movements for human rights than we may often give them credit for.

 

Natasha Oviedo, CDPB Intern 2020-2021 is a current Rotary Scholar and postgraduate student in the Conflict Transformation and Social Justice MA program at Queen’s University Belfast. Natasha traveled to Belfast from Sierra Madre, California, a small foothill village in Los Angeles County with plenty of wildlife and a close-knit community. As a History major and Environmental Systems and Society minor at the University of California, Los Angeles, Natasha gained an appreciation for interdisciplinary research that she will apply towards research on migration, grassroots diplomacy, and multicultural democracies while in Belfast. Natasha previously interned at Hispanas Organized for Political Equality (HOPE), the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and Red Hen Press. She also volunteers at Horn of Africa People’s Aid NI (HAPANI). 

 

For more information about Re-thinking Solidarity please visit: http://democracyandpeace.org/solidarity/

Leadership Academy: Ethnic Minority Leaders

A unique opportunity for 15 leaders from the ethnic minority backgrounds in Northern Ireland to broaden their skills, knowledge and expertise to help to address variety of challenges, including racial equality, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the UK exit from the EU. The 4-week online executive style programme will be delivered by a wide range of experts from politics, business, and academia.

Developed by the Centre for Democracy and Peace Building and Washington Ireland Program and supported by the Irish American Partnership.

 

11 November 2020 (6pm – 8pm) Intro + Leadership in Extraordinary Times
18 November 2020 (6pm – 8pm) Policy, Governance and Ethics
25 November 2020 (6pm – 8pm) Political Communication and Lobbying
2 December 2020 (6pm – 8pm) Making It Happen. Strategy in Action

Apply at: https://tinyurl.com/y4zeqwwa

Application deadline: 30 October 2020 (5pm GMT)

Re-thinking Solidarity

Following the success of the first webinar, which marked the 40th anniversary of the foundation of Solidarnosc – the first independent trade union in the Soviet bloc, which led to the collapse of communism and a peaceful transition to democracy across Central and Eastern Europe, we are launching Re-thinking Solidarity series.

Re-thinking Solidarity will bring together leading academics, historians, philosophers, theologians, social activists, policy makers and legislators to engage in thoughtful reflection and re-think what solidarity means today, in light of a variety of societal changes, the current geopolitical situation and the consequences of COVID-19 pandemic.

We will explore the idea of solidarity in the context of religion and inter-faith dialogue; environmental and financial sustainability; politics and political psychology; and equality and social justice.

The series of webinars will be chaired by Lord Alderdice – a psychiatrist who, as Leader of Northern Ireland’s Alliance Party was one of the key negotiators of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, then first Speaker of the new Northern Ireland Assembly, and subsequently one of four international Commissioners who oversaw security normalization in Ireland.  A member of the House of Lords since 1996 and Convenor of the Liberal Democrats in the Lords during the Coalition Government, he was President of Liberal International – the global federation of liberal parties – and currently has various appointments at the University of Oxford including as Director of the Centre for the Resolution of Intractable Conflict.

Re-thinking Solidarity webinars will be subsequently published as a series of essays, and when it is possible, we do hope to convene further seminars in Oxford and Rome.

Re-thinking Solidarity is organised by the Centre for Democracy and Peace Building and the Political Theology, in partnership with St. Benet’s Institute, St. Benet’s Hall, University of Oxford and The St. John Paul II Institute of Culture at Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas Angelicum in Rome, and supported by the Polish Cultural Institute in London.

 

Re-thinking Solidarity

 

  • 23 Oct 2020: Solidarity, religion and inter-faith dialogue

Register at: https://tinyurl.com/y4hqhrpk

  • Lord Alderdice (chair)
  • Dariusz Karlowicz, Political Theology
  • Nazila Ghanea, University of Oxford
  • Daniel Greenberg, Jewish Law and Ethics
  • Jaroslaw Kupczak OP, St. John Paul II Institute of Culture, Angelicum

 

  • 20 Nov 2020: Solidarity between the generations – environmental and financial sustainability

Register at: https://tinyurl.com/y5p7www3

  • Lord Alderdice (chair)
  • Helen Alford OP, Vice Rector, Angelicum
  • Kalypso Nicolaidis, University of Oxford
  • Carlos Fidalgo Gallardo, Universidad de Sevilla
  • Marek A. Cichocki, Political Theology

 

  • 18 Dec 2020: Solidarity, politics and political psychology

Register at: https://tinyurl.com/yyrm2bnz

  • Lord Alderdice (chair)
  • Deniz Arıboğan, Uskudar University, Istanbul
  • Ewa Thompson, Rice University
  • Alejandro Crosthwaite OP, Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences, Angelicum
  • Michał Gierycz, Dean of the Faculty of Social and Economic Studies UKSW

 

  • 19 Feb 2021: Solidarity, equality and social justice

Register at: https://tinyurl.com/y5p8t5s4

  • Lord Alderdice (chair)
  • Speakers tbc

TED Countdown

Countdown is a global initiative to champion and accelerate solutions to the climate crisis, turning ideas into action.

The ongoing health and economic crises are reminding us of an important fact: we are all part of the same fragile system, dependent on nature and one another. We must build back better and emerge more sustainable and resilient than before.

On October 10, 2020, we will hear from leading thinkers and doers about what a healthy, abundant, zero-emission future can look like; stirring examples of real progress underway; and powerful reasons why this post-crisis moment is the time to act. This global gathering will serve as inspiration and a call to action to the world’s leaders — and to people everywhere (including NI) — to step up and participate in building a better future.

TED is bringing together scientists, activists, entrepreneurs, urban planners, farmers, CEOs, investors, artists, government officials, and others to find the most effective, evidence-based ideas out there. The goal is to identify the bold solutions that can be activated when people break out of their silos and rise to the challenge.

We can change climate change – #JoinTheCountdown to a safer, cleaner, fairer future. Countdown invites collaboration from every organization, company, city and nation and from citizens everywhere. It is a movement open to everyone – and everyone has a vital role to play.

 

TEDxStormont Countdown | 10 October 2020 | 3pm – 6pm | Zoom + Facebook LIVE

Register in advance for this webinar: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_NeokYQACSLGHbWhU2ol2DA

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

Solidarity 40

To mark 40th anniversary of foundation of the Polish Independent Self-Governing Trade Union “Solidarnosc” in September 1980 we are launching Solidarity 40 – a series of lectures, seminars and publications.

Solidarity 40  will bring together academics, historians, philosophers, theologians, social activists, policy makers and legislators to explore the concept of solidarity in four thematic areas: history, international relations, theology and philosophy, and politics and society.

The first Solidarity 40  webinar will take place on Wednesday, 26 August from 3pm to 4.30pm and will include contributions from:

• Lord Alderdice (Chair)
• Professor Norman Davies FBA
• Professor Kalypso Nicolaidis, University of Oxford
• Professor Marek Cichocki, Political Theology
• Dr Donna Hicks, Harvard University

During the webinar we will reflect on the idea of solidarity in the historical, political, philosophical and social contexts.

This project is coordinated by the Centre for Democracy and Peace Building in partnership with St. Benet’s Institute, St. Benet’s Hall, University of Oxford, and a philosophical yearbook Political Theology in Warsaw and supported by the Polish Cultural Institute in London.

Register at: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_KiK0Pm3tRmmivKKwOqFPEQ

TEDxStormont Virtual Summer Camp

Since 2013, TEDxStormont hosted events on the theme of “Imagine” – we were looking forward and imagining the kind of future we could have together as a society in Northern Ireland and beyond. This year the Imagine theme could not be more relevant.

The future has never felt so uncertain. There are deadly perils to be dealt with, starting with a global pandemic. Yet we also now have an opportunity to rebuild our world in a better, fairer, more beautiful way. We believe passionately that the global TED community has a key role to play here. We are all believers in human creativity and our collective ability to imagine our way out of this mess. More than ever, we need to connect with each other and figure out how to build back better.

In a run up to TEDxStormontLive on 1 August 2020, build around the talks from the first-ever virtual TED Conference, TED2020: Uncharted we will host TEDxStormont Virtual Summer Camp to bring our community closer together.

TEDxStormont Virtual Summer Camp will run from Monday, 27 July to Saturday, 1 August 2020 and will include daily Thought for the Day, Coffee Club, Main Stage TEDxStormont Talks, Creativity Hub, Peace Village, Playground and Fireside Chats.

For regular updates follow us on Twitter @TEDxStormont and visit our website www.tedxstormont.com. For further information and partnership opportunities please contact Kaja Choma at kaja@tedxstormont.com.

 

*TEDxStormont is organised by the Centre for Democracy and Peace Building (CDPB) and curated by CDPB CEO Eva Grosman.

 

Summer of Solidarity

The Centre for Democracy and Peace Building is delighted to partner with and support “Summer of Solidarity”.

This summer in Europe will be like no other. Across our contrasted continent, within our societies and also as individuals, we are experiencing something new and hard to define – a mixture of shock, trauma, uncertainty, and also of hopes, struggles, a quest for constructive paths forwards. We find ourselves in the midst of a confusing, transformative and certainly unique moment in time.

With the pandemic came pain, fear, restrictions, and fragmentation of our space. Countries were self-isolating, they turned inwards. Now, with a phased reopening of borders, new realities are dawning on us. Our continent is confronted with an economic crisis whose scale and consequences are likely to dwarf previous ones we’ve experienced. Meanwhile, struggles and debates criss-cross the region. A fight for fairness, justice and rights seems reawakened, as people claim what’s fundamental to them and also try to make sense of what their lives have become.

The virus has made evident the fragility of our societies and of our European solidarity at a state level. It has also made evident our connectedness, within our societies and across the continent, which now faces a huge test, economically, socially, politically – not least the Union within it.

Everybody seems to be waiting, gathering strength for what is to come. This summer feels like a gap, but with shifts and changes all around us. Time is suspended, and yet time is speeding up. Summer is a season where everything, much of it beautiful, can be possible. This year, one positive, beautiful thing we want to do is the simple gesture of paying more attention to each other.

We won’t be travelling much, but we c a n reach across the wide, diverse, human space of our continent in new ways. We can share and listen to each other’s stories, life experiences, memories, hopes. This is the time to explore what can bring us together and also what can drive us apart – within and across societies, cultures, countries.

Europe carries many stories within itself. Some of them are meant to pit people against one another. Some of them are cynical, fatalistic or threatening to fundamental principles of peace and tolerance. Our vision is very different – it is about believing in common values and a shared future, it is about protecting human dignity and celebrating diversity. What we want to do this summer is build a large collaborative network that connects people through vivid storytelling, that sheds light on people, places and issues in ways that help see beyond silos or thought bubbles. We’ll be keen to give a voice to people not always heard, to turn to young people, and to explore off the beaten track of news coverage. Together we’ll be sharing human stories from all across our continent: let’s try to rediscover ourselves, despite all the difficulties.

Again, we believe solidarity starts with being open and curious about one another. That’s why, as a loose collaborative network of citizens, journalists, media start-ups, civil society organizations and cultural groups from across wider Europe, we are launching the 2020 European “Summer of Solidarity” initiative.

“Summer of Solidarity” is an attempt to document a once-in-a-lifetime season and try to think about the future too. We want to create a space where we can meet, discover and debate, at a time when Europeans can’t travel and interact as before. We want to bring together a mosaic of human experiences – reaching across all sorts of boundaries, close to the ground, offering a deeper, more inclusive look at our continent.

We want to embrace Europe as a continent – a human space that is not limited to EU member countries.

“Summer of Solidarity” kicks off on 20 June and lasts until 20 August.

This is a grassroots, spontaneous initiative built in just a few weeks by a group of enthusiasts and concerned citizens from across Europe from the world of journalism, culture, citizens networks, civil society. Summer of Solidarity is independent and has no affiliation with a political party or movement, nor is it part of any institution. The initiative is supported by philanthropic grants and donations. Summer of Solidarity is an attempt to take part in the emergence of a European public space, at a time when showing empathy and listening to one another feels like the right thing to do – and to enjoy.

To learn more and to contribute please visit: https://www.summerofsolidarity.eu/want-to-contribute

One Thousand Paper Cranes launches online resources

‘One Thousand Paper Cranes’ launched its online toolkit, including a video message of peace and hope from young people in Hiroshima, story of Sadako Sasaki and instructions on how to fold the origami crane.

The project developed by the Centre for Democracy and Peace Building, supported by the Community Relations Council and endorsed by Japan House London celebrates the culture of peace and links between Northern Ireland and Japan.

The aim of the project is to make 1000 origami paper cranes with messages of lasting peace. The cranes will be offered at the Children’s Peace Monument in Hiroshima to mark the 75th anniversary of the bombing later this year.

In addition, as part of the project, Visiting Professor in Immersive Futures and diversity and inclusion specialist Deepa Mann-Kler with team from Ulster University will create Tsuru – an artistic intervention using Augmented Reality to explore peace building in digital and physical spaces of Belfast and Hiroshima.

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson MP, Chairman, Centre for Democracy and Peace Building said:

“We are delighted to be launching this project which is aimed at strengthening relations between Northern Ireland and Japan through the sharing of our respective experiences in peace building.

Drawing our inspiration from the work of the Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation, we will be particularly encouraging young people to value the peace process and to engage in collective learning as we work towards reconciliation in our troubled and divided land.

An added benefit of the project is the study of peace through cultural exchange and exploring the richness of our cultural diversity as well as all that we have in common through our shared humanity.”

Michael Houlihan, Director General, Japan House London said:

“Japan House London is privileged to be associated with such an inspiring initiative. Culture can sometimes be the simple expression of how different societies find very different solutions to the same challenges of everyday life and living.

Sharing and understanding the experiences of others can teach us much about ourselves, and offer answers as to how we can build a more peaceful world. It is part of Japan House London’s mission to be a cultural bridge bringing the United Kingdom and Japan together.”

Watch video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W4sHJ2EWbCg

Online Resources are HERE.

TEDxStormont: TED Circles April 2020

In April, TEDxStormont will host a special online TED Circles programme themed around COVID 19, changing world and your well-being. The ZOOM webinars will take place each Monday afternoon at 4pm (BST) and will be co-hosted by Lord Alderdice and special guests. Please join in to learn, share your perspective and connect with new ideas.

TED Circles is an open platform for meaningful conversations about ideas. Imagine a book club for TED Talks! A new TED initiative, at TED Circles you will meet others who are inspired by TED and interested in joining small discussions, facilitated by our volunteer hosts, on a variety of relevant and timely topics.

Register at: https://us04web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZEvcO6opjorP38HmqMPp9TyVSODLzeOnw

Programme

Monday, 6 April
Emotional first aid with special guests Professor Siobhan O’Neill and Peter McBride

Watch Guy Winch: Why we all need to practice emotional first aid HERE.

Monday, 13 April
The art of stillness with special guest Fr Mark Patrick Hederman OSB and Bridgeen Rea-Kaya

Watch Pico Iyer: The art of stillness HERE.

Monday, 20 April
Compassion with special guest Padraig O’Tuama and Sr Judith Leckie

Watch Krista Tippett: Reconnecting with compassion HERE.

Monday, 27 April
Gratefulness with special guest Karen Sethuraman and Rev Dr John Dunlop

Watch David Steindl-Rast: Want to be happy? Be grateful HERE.

 

CO-HOST Professor, the Lord Alderdice FRCPsych

Professor, the Lord Alderdice FRCPsych is a Liberal Democrat member of the House of Lords and was the Chairman of the Liberal Democrats in the House of Lords during the Liberal/Conservative Coalition Government. Previously a consultant psychiatrist at the Centre for Psychotherapy he established in Belfast, Lord Alderdice is currently a Senior Research Fellow and Director of the Centre for the Resolution of Intractable Conflict at Harris Manchester College (University of Oxford). He is also a Clinical Professor in Psychiatry at the University of Maryland (Baltimore) and Chairman Emeritus of the Centre for Democracy and Peace Building (Belfast).

TED Circle: COVID19 and the social distancing problem

Our first TED Circle webinar on COVID 19 and the social distancing problem will take place on Monday, 30 March from 3pm to 4pm (BST).

TED Circles is an open platform for meaningful conversations about ideas. Imagine a book club for TED Talks! A new TED initiative, at TED Circles you will meet others who are inspired by TED and interested in joining small discussions, facilitated by our volunteer hosts, on a variety of relevant and timely topics.

The webinar will be facilitated by the team at TEDxStormont and co-hosted by Lord Alderdice and Sinead O’Sullivan. We will discuss TED talk by Robert Waldinger: What makes a good life? Lessons from the longest study on happiness and article by Scott Atran: Coronavirus & The Social Distancing Problem.

Please join in to learn, share your perspective and connect with new ideas.

Join us live on Facebook @TEDxStormont or register HERE.

BEFORE WEBINAR

• WATCH: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8KkKuTCFvzI
• READ: http://cric-oxford.org/2020/03/17/coronavirus-the-social-distancing-problem/

CONTRIBUTORS

Professor, the Lord Alderdice FRCPsych

Professor, the Lord Alderdice FRCPsych is a Liberal Democrat member of the House of Lords and was the Chairman of the Liberal Democrats in the House of Lords during the Liberal/Conservative Coalition Government. Previously a consultant psychiatrist at the Centre for Psychotherapy he established in Belfast, Lord Alderdice is currently a Senior Research Fellow and Director of the Centre for the Resolution of Intractable Conflict at Harris Manchester College (University of Oxford). He is also a Clinical Professor in Psychiatry at the University of Maryland (Baltimore) and Chairman Emeritus of the Centre for Democracy and Peace Building (Belfast).

Sinead O’Sullivan

Sinead O’Sullivan is the CEO of Veriphix, a behavioural dynamics platform that detects and measures human emotion at scale. A Fellow at Harvard Law School (Center for Internet and Society) and a Senior Research Fellow at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Sinead is also part of MIT’s COVID19 task force that seeks to implement immediate economic and governmental policies in response to the global pandemic.

An Aerospace Engineer from N.Ireland, with a Bachelor of Aerospace Engineering from Queen’s University of Belfast, a Masters in Aerospace Engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology, a Certificate of Space Engineering from the International Space University and an MBA from Harvard Business School. Her engineering experience includes human factors research at the European Space Agency, human spaceflight mission design at NASA and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and autonomous robotics creation for the US Navy.