This is the fourth article in a several part series throughout this quarter, written by Nic Cable, focusing on the complexities of interfaith work in higher education. These articles are in conjunction with an academic independent study project on the same themes.
The Better Together Campaign is not about feeding or clothing homeless people; it’s not about raising money to help Haiti or other developing countries; it is and always will be a method of igniting the spirit of humanity, awakening our minds to the deep and limitless potential we share, if and when we choose to recognize it, come together, and work to spread justice and peace throughout the world.
This three steps process is purposefully chronological and it is journeyed with patience. After a year leading the Better Together Campaign at DePaul University, I reflect with greater understanding about the importance of patience and process when mobilizing students and other segments of a higher educational institution. Laying out the nuances of my three step understanding of the campaign will help shed light into where I stand today looking back at this year.
Beginning with my opening jab that decentralizes the action oriented purpose of the campaign, I think it is of critical importance to suggest that this is a secondary goal of the way I viewed the BTC at DePaul. We began instead by discussing the concept of interfaith engagement, including the purpose and the promise, as well as the potential challenges of this venture. I requested that everyone at the What IF? Speak-In not think about the idea of “What IF?” as a question, but rather to think of it as an invitation to dream, a path that we may travel forward on together imagining the world as it will one day be.
So, we dreamed. We saw a world where religious identity, racial and gender lines, and all other lines became elegant, unique brush strokes that added rich color and character to this painting we were creating of our shared existence. It was a beautiful sight, and it was at that moment that I knew that our spirits were all lighting up, catching the warmth of this possibility before us; collectively, we desired that this hope would become a reality.
A small group of individuals, unique and sacred pieces of the whole, were in that room back in November for the What IF? Speak-In. We saw the painting, we felt the warmth, but what about those who were not there that night, who could not make it or chose to simply not attend? Therefore, logically, mobilization was the next step, the goal of which was to find people interested in making this world we dreamt of a little more real. Upon entering this next stage, a concern often followed, namely that people agreed in theory, but were unsure how this would actually be achieved. More so, many individuals felt they were already doing this work in other ways, and subsequently felt no need to join the Better Together Campaign.
And here’s the rub. What I didn’t realize before, but I do know today is that there are no prerequisites to joining the campaign, there are no boundaries or hurdles like attaining citizenship in a country or admission to a university. All people working for justice and peace are a part of the Better Together Movement. I choose to say movement because I think it characterizes the Better Together mission more correctly and strategically. We are in a movement with justice and social action being achieved in countless ways and in countless directions throughout the country. There is no epicenter, there is no headquarters for this like a governmental campaign might have; instead, the center is in every heart that takes the leap and dreams of what the world may be like one day. The center of this movement is in each of us, growing like a beautiful, unique flower reaching out into the world in a different way.
The Better Together Movement is growing. It is growing faster than we are able to monitor it. The reason why this is happening is because this spirit of dreaming, recognizing, and acting to build a justice and peace oriented world has been coursing through humanity for millennia. This is not a new thing. New branding, perhaps, but nothing new to this world. As a result, the effects of the Better Together Movement can be seen in this country within the Abolitionist Movement, the Women’s Suffrage Movement, the Civil Rights Movement, and so on, and so on. Each were moments when people stood up and worked for justice and equality where it was due.
Now, we have arrived now at this moment. Today, we have many problems in the world: extreme poverty, global warming, wars, violence against women, etc. We also have a lot of potential and promise in young people who are growing up in a post 9/11 world with a hope of reuniting our global family one step at a time. Students at DePaul University are doing this every day in countless ways. We do it for many reasons, but all with the hope of building that Beloved Community, peace on earth and justice for all.
Better Together is not a campaign; it is a movement and it is picking up speed like a snowball rushing down a mountain. We are in store for some amazing things in this century. I am excited and blessed to be able to participate in this movement and hope many more people will begin to dream, recognize and act along with all of us who are involved in this global movement.