Commentary Upfront Blog

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. 

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

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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