Why we must be global

Knowing about what is going on in Japan or Mexico makes us better global citizens, but it can show us the universality of the human spirit. It can offer potent evidence that “the family of man” is not a shallow aphorism but something much deeper and more resonant for human progress. 

MOHAMED NURELDIN ABDALLAH/REUTERS
PEOPLE FLEEING TRIBAL CLASHES ARRIVE AT A DISPLACED PERSONS CAMP IN DARFUR, SUDAN, IN JULY.

The Christian Science Monitor is an international news organization because it must be. We don’t really have a choice. 

The vision of our founder, Mary Baker Eddy, does more than embrace the world. It creates no separation between us (whoever “we” happen to be) and the world. Knowing about what is going on in Japan or Mexico makes us better global citizens, yes. But it can do something much more. It can show us the universality of the human spirit. It can offer potent evidence that “the family of man” is not a shallow aphorism but something much deeper and more resonant for human progress. 

For a publication to show in its reporting the humanity that underlies the global “us” is not simply a nice thing to do: It is an essential task that breaks narrow thinking and forces us out of the comfortable grooves of tribalized thought. It broadens our views of love, innovation, identity – of how we see ourselves and the world. 

Ryan Brown’s cover story this week is a beautiful example. Yes, it is a story about the conundrum of refugee camps: How do you create a sense of safety without creating a sense of permanency? Refugee camps, after all, are supposed to be temporary – merely a humane way station on a path to reintegration.

But the story thrums with so much more. It is a portrait of an evolving sense of life and home. For refugees, a sense of home breaks through even when conditions would seem to conspire against it – like the flower growing from the stone. Life wants to be vibrant. The question is whether there needs to be a reboot of the post-World War II refugee camp model, one that allows refugees’ innovation and yearning for a sense of stability to be expressed. 

This is a question for Africa and for refugees. But it is also a question for everyone else, too. Not only does it put refugees in a different light, it shifts the whole topic into something more intimate for anyone who has ever bought a house or fought with a neighbor over a tree. What happens when our sense of home is taken from us? 

This is why the Monitor is reopening an Africa bureau. And this is why we’re so pleased that Ryan is signing on to do it. 

Africa is, perhaps, more prone to stereotypes than any other corner of the world. It is cast as the world’s charity case, rife with disease, war, and corruption. Indeed, these are challenges that need to be faced. But there is a different picture to see, too. One of vibrancy and relevance, of innovation and aspiration. 

Africa challenges us to see beyond the surface, and that is what the Monitor does. As managing editor Amelia Newcomb often says, the Monitor dares us all to see the world differently. And that can begin with seeing the green shoots of home even amid the refugee camps of a war-torn country. 

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Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.