What we have done in this country is a miracle. The fact that we have managed to figure out a way to take the most diverse nation in the world and transform it into this sense of unity is mind-blowing.
Princeton, NJ (PRWEB) February 01, 2014
Headmaster Jonathan Brougham welcomed religious scholar, educator, and NY Times bestselling author Reza Aslan to The Hun School on Tuesday, January 28th as part of the Centennial Speaker Series: The Next 100 Years. Dr. Aslan’s presentation “Unity in Diversity” examined the shifting landscape of America’s identity. Dr. Aslan emphasized how relationships are the key to recognizing the humanity in one another, and why relationships are the single most important determinant in bridging differences such as religion, race, and ethnicity.
“Ultimately, Reza led us to a renewed sense of what is special about our nation’s democratic ideal, a fresh understanding of what binds us as Americans,” said Mr. Brougham. “That is the message I think all of us will remember for a long time.”
Dr. Alsan defined America’s identity as an amalgam of groups and individuals sharing a common system of values. He said, “A country of immigrants can’t define itself, can’t define its collective identity based on a common ethnicity, or a common religion, or a common culture, or a common race, or even a common language. Instead, a country of immigrants has to define itself by something a little bit more nebulous. It defines its collective identity based more on a shared agreement about a set of values, a set of principles that bind us together in all our diversity.”
As America’s identity continues to transform, and as the country moves ever closer to becoming the first nation whose majority is minority, Dr. Aslan sees a need for greater understanding of how diverse people can continue to live in unity.
“What we have done in this country is a miracle,” explained Dr. Aslan. “The fact that we have managed to figure out a way to take the most diverse nation in the world and transform it into this sense of unity is mind-blowing. But that sense of unity has to be redefined each generation. It is up to those of you in this room to create the relationships – between religions, between races, between cultures, between nationalities – that actually moves this country forward. That creates precisely the path necessary for ‘outgroups’ to become ‘ingroups.’
Dr. Aslan appealed to the emotions of the audience saying, “Education is important. Knowledge is important. But, it’s not enough. Knowledge is an attempt to reason with the mind. But, it’s not enough to change this [indicating his heart]. What changes this [indicating his heart] is not information, but relationships.”
Following his presentation, Dr. Aslan met audience members and signed copies of his books. Later, he joined faculty for lunch and small group discussions, where the topics of education, pedagogy, international relations, and history were explored.
Reza Aslan is the author of "Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth"—a momentous work of popular scholarship, which reached #1 on the NY Times bestseller list. Dr. Aslan’s degrees include a Bachelor of Arts in religious studies from Santa Clara University, a Master of Theological Studies from Harvard University, a PhD in the sociology of religions from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and a Master’s in creative writing from the University of Iowa.
About The Hun School of Princeton:
The Hun School of Princeton is a co-educational, private day and boarding school in Princeton, New Jersey. Individual attention and strong student-faculty relationships are the hallmarks of the School. On the 45-acre campus between Philadelphia and New York City, student-centered, hands-on learning prepare students for the global community in which they will live and work. The Hun School is comprised of 629 students in its Middle School, Upper School, and Postgraduate Program. The Hun School is home to students from seventeen countries and fifteen states.