To Stand or Not To Stand, That Is The Question

 

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The Robert E. Lee statue in Charlottesville, Virginia. (CSNBC/Getty Images)

Is there anything we can learn from the NFL protests?

Those who believe players should kneel during the national anthem want to publicly acknowledge racism and white supremacy. Those who believe players should stand want them to show honor and respect for our country. We know this – for the past several weeks the news media has narrated these opposing soundbites.

 

Roger Goodell wrote to NFL teams that the anthem controversy makes it hard to have “honest conversations” and tackle “underlying issues.” Some have criticized Donald Trump for demanding that players stand, when he should be focusing on public policy.

 

The narrative is not unlike the controversy of the removal of the Confederate statues. Those who want to obliterate the statues want to obliterate history. Those who want to keep the statues want to remember history. The news media crafts these soundbites, without room for deep thinking.

 

At the University of Chicago, Dr. Jonathan Lear, a renowned professor, philosopher, and psychoanalyst, diagnosed the cause of the racial riots and protests implemented from the top-down across the South, from Charlottesville, Va. to Memphis, Tn. In the aftermath of the Battle of Gettysburg, the deceased Union soldiers were given a proper burial on a hill while the Confederate soldiers were left to rot on the field. Lincoln called buried Union soldiers “these honored dead” and the Confederate soldiers “enemies” and “rebellious traitors.”

 

Let me be clear: Dr. Lear admires Lincoln. He knows that the cause the Confederate soldiers – slavery – is despicable. Where Dr. Lear differs is the “us versus them” and “North versus South” black-and-white mentality that still exists today, starting with the Union excluding Confederate soldiers upon burial. The deceased Union soldiers – the “selected harvest” picked from the fields – were memorialized and remembered, while the Confederate soldiers, who were also Americans, were not. We don’t have cemeteries for them – we have statues. Southerners glorify the statues and idealize the possibility of an antebellum South – that’s why Gone With The Wind was written. Northerners extricate themselves from racism by calling supporters “ignorant and bigoted,” he said.

 

Neither side of this argument is right, said Dr. Lear. Americans should “make sense of the individual [Confederate soldiers] who got it wrong, and preserve the memorynot honor or glorify it.”

 

By extension, then, it seems logical that while the American flag to some may signify inequality and injustice – deceased slaves, police brutality, and other forms of racism – to others, it signifies the soldiers who sacrificed and risked their lives to protect us, even if the motive or result was not right or ideal all the time. Think of any war you disagree with.

 

If you are on the protestor end of the supporter-protestor national anthem spectrum, it’s worth remembering Dr. Lear’s advice: preserve and respect the memory without honoring or glorifying it. This piece of advice applies to the Civil War. And it applies to people we may disagree with politically. After Dr. Lear’s speech, one attendee said to me he wondered why people voted for Trump, and then came to the conclusion, “Even if our enemies have a different perspective that isn’t right, we respect each other’s common humanity.”

 


Melanie Wilcox is an MSJ Candidate at the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.

Capstone Conference Day 1: photos & tweets

Our scholars presented their findings at our “capstone” conference October 13-14, 2017 at the University of Chicago, which we captured in photos and tweets. Visit our Flickr page for the full album and our Twitter page for more observations. Below are highlights from Friday, October 13.

We’ll post highlights from Saturday, October 14, tomorrow.

Friday, October 13

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9:15 am Welcome by Principal Investigators Jennifer Frey and Candace Vogler

 

23944290488_a05d70b234_z.jpg9:30-10:30 am Kristján Kristjánsson, Professor of Character Education and Virtue Ethics; Deputy Director of the Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues, University of Birmingham

10:45-11:45 am Dan P. McAdams, Henry Wade Rogers Professor of Psychology and Professor of Human Development and Social Policy, Northwestern University

1:45 – 2:45 pm Panel: Transcending Boundaries I

37765192702_9ccb0c79ab_z.jpgTalbot Brewer, Professor of Philosophy, University of Virginia and Faculty Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture

Michael Gorman, Associate Professor of Philosophy, School of Philosophy, The Catholic University of America

Jean Porter, John A. O’Brien Professor of Theology, University of Notre Dame

3:00 -4:00 pm Tahera Qutbuddin, Professor of Arabic Literature, University of Chicago

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4:15 – 5:15 pm Panel: Virtue, Happiness, & the Meaning of Life Visiting Scholars

Fr. Stephen BrockProfessor of Medieval Philosophy, Pontifical University of the Holy Cross, Rome

Anselm Mueller, University of Chicago

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7pm – Keynote: Jonathan Lear, “Gettysburg”

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Live stream our keynotes Jonathan Lear and Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, October 13 & 14

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We’re pleased to offer live-streaming of these 2 keynotes of our “Capstone” Conference. Join us online, central standard time, for:

Friday, October 13 at 7pm  Jonathan Lear, “Gettysburg”

Includes a brief Q & A session.
Is there room for an ethical inquiry into the meaning of the events of the summer and autumn of 1863 in Gettysburg Pennsylvania, after the famous battle? Did something go primordially wrong in our attempts to bury the dead and find ways to memorialize them?  And do the dead haunt Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address?  This talk is an inquiry into difficulties we face as we try to remember, memorialize and commemorate.
For more information and to stream Jonathan Lear’s talk, visit https://virtue.uchicago.edu/lear
Saturday, October 14 at 6pm    Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, “A Consistent Ethic of Solidarity: Transcending Self, Transforming the World”
President Zimmer will provide introductory remarks.
Cardinal Cupich will consider virtue in the context of building up the common good.  He will comment on some of the fault lines in the present age that present obstacles, but also suggest the opportunities that a renewed sense of solidarity offers in achieving the common good.
For more information and to stream Cardinal Cupich’s talk, visit  https://virtue.uchicago.edu/cupich

Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, Prof. Jonathan Lear to give keynotes at conference

cardinal-and-learnews(From left): Cardinal Blase J. Cupich and Prof. Jonathan Lear will present the keynote talks.

Oct. 13 and 14 event caps Virtue, Happiness & the Meaning of Life project

By Andrew Bauld

After more than two years of research with collaboration between philosophers, religious thinkers and psychologists, the Virtue, Happiness & the Meaning of Lifeproject will present its findings at a capstone conference on Oct. 13 and 14, featuring keynote talks by Prof. Jonathan Lear and Cardinal Blase J. Cupich.

The conference culminates a project that brought scholars together from around the world to examine the enrichment of human life. Research in both the humanities and social sciences suggests that people who feel they belong to something bigger than themselves—be it family, a spiritual practice, or work in social justice—are often happier than those who do not. Scholars refer to the feeling as “self-transcendence.”

Panelists throughout both days, including scholars from religious studies, theology, philosophy, psychology, and economics, will discuss whether self-transcendence truly makes people happier and provides deeper meaning in human life.

Speakers from the University of Chicago include Candace Vogler, the David B. and Clara E. Stern Professor of Philosophy and co-principal investigator for the project; Marc Berman, assistant professor in psychology; and Tahera Qutbuddin, professor of Arabic literature.

“This conference serves to share our research with the broader community,” said Jennifer A. Frey, co-principal investigator, assistant professor of philosophy at the University of South Carolina and formerly a scholar at the University of Chicago. “Our scholars from a variety of disciplines have reached similar conclusions about the essential role of self-transcendence in the general account of what makes for potential happiness and meaning in human lives. Our hope is that as this project winds down, we are only at the beginning of a new line of research.”

Lear, the John U. Nef Distinguished Service Professor in the Committee on Social Thought and the Department of Philosophy, will speak at 7 p.m. Oct. 13 at the Oriental Institute. His talk, titled “Gettysburg,” will look at the ethical difficulties of memorializing the dead and in particular the soldiers that died following the bloodiest battle of the U.S. Civil War.

Cardinal Cupich will speak at 6 p.m. Oct. 14 in the auditorium at the Law School. He will deliver a talk considering virtue in the context of building up the common good, titled “A Consistent Ethic of Solidarity: Transcending Self, Transforming the World.” President Robert J. Zimmer will introduce the cardinal.

“Cardinal Cupich has distinguished himself in his fundamental love of and concern for some of the most disadvantaged people in the city of Chicago,” said Vogler. “His call for solidarity is rooted in the genuine practice of solidarity, day in and day out.”

The conference is free and open to the public, but registration is required. To learn more, visit the Virtue, Happiness & the Meaning of Life website.

 

Registration closes FRI, October 6 for our “Capstone” Conference; Open through MON October 9 noon for Keynotes

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Join us for two days of talks, panels, and discussions with the philosophers, religious thinkers, and psychologists who have been working together to investigate whether self-transcendence helps to make ordinary cultivation and exercise of virtue a source of deep happiness and meaning in human life.

The conference is free and open to the public but space is limited, so registration is required. For more information and to register, visit virtue.uchicago.edu.

Register for Jonathan Lear’s Keynote on Friday, OCT 13

“Gettysburg”

Is there room for an ethical inquiry into the meaning of the events of the summer and autumn of 1863 in Gettysburg Pennsylvania, after the famous battle? Did something go primordially wrong in our attempts to bury the dead and find ways to memorialize them? And do the dead haunt Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address? This talk is an inquiry into difficulties we face as we try to remember, memorialize and commemorate.

A reception will follow the talk.

Jonathan Lear is the John U. Nef Distinguished Service Professor in the Committee on Social Thought and the Department of Philosophy. Read more about Jonathan Lear here.

Register for Cardinal Cupich’s Keynote on Saturday, OCT 14

“A Consistent Ethic of Solidarity: Transcending Self, Transforming the World”

Cardinal Cupich will consider virtue in the context of building up the common good. He will comment on some of the fault lines in the present age that present obstacles, but also suggest the opportunities that a renewed sense of solidarity offers in achieving the common good.

The President of the University of Chicago, Robert J. Zimmer, will provide introductory remarks. A reception will follow Cardinal Cupich’s talk.

Blase J. Cupich was named a Cardinal by Pope Francis On October 9, 2016. Read more about Cardinal Cupich here.

Keynotes will be live-streamed, and recorded. For more information, visit virtue.uchicago.edu.

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