Philosophy & the 4th of July: Helping One Another Become Fully Human

July 1, 2015

The Public Radio show On Being featured an hour-long conversation with Philosophy Professor Jacob Needleman, The Inward Work of American Democracy in June of 2012. The broadcast is more relevant than ever. Needleman investigated the relationship between the United States Founders’ spirituality, their commitment to the idea of democracy, and their sense of virtue and responsibility.

He believes “the great purpose of America is to provide a place in which people can become fully human.” It is an extraordinary and unique reflection on several American thinkers and their relationship to purpose, belief, and The Republic. He considers writings and history spanning George Washington, Frederick Douglass, Walt Whitman, and many more. Near the conclusion he is asked about the need for America in the world today. His reply:  “America is the guardian of the search for conscience … even if the Presidents and the Congresspeople don’t know about it. It’s needed in the world.” These quotations are provocative alone. I urge you to listen to the whole interview and consider the ideals in the context of domestic, cross-cultural cooperation and contestation:

On the 4th and beyond, what will you do to provide a place in which people can become fully human? 


Photo above: From On Being

Editor’s Note: As frequently mentioned here, global learning does not require crossing a national border. Indeed, engaging thoughtfully across cultures is sometimes even more challenging at home, where biases and assumptions are entrenched over lifetimes and generations. The 2014-15 academic year began with Ferguson and ended with Baltimore; now we have Charleston. At globalsl, we find it more important than ever to include a focus on domestic cross-cultural cooperation, learning, and community-driven development.

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