Century Marks

Century Marks

Grand strategy?

A document found in the tribal lands of Pakistan outlines the design of ISIL to unite all Muslims worldwide in one Islamic caliphate, a religious empire. The document envisions uniting all Taliban groups in Pakistan and Afghanistan under ISIL’s leadership, and it encourages al-Qaeda groups to join them. The document pro­jects an attack on India with the hope of drawing the United States into an “end-of-the world” confrontation. “Accept the fact that this caliphate will survive and prosper until it takes over the entire world and beheads every last person that rebels against Allah,” the document says (USA Today, July 28).

Wedding party

A Turkish couple living near the Syrian border invited 4,000 Syrian refugees living in or near their city to their wedding party. The idea came from the groom’s father, who hoped their example would inspire others. The couple pooled money they had received from family members to throw the party, and wedding guests contributed food as well. The bride admitted being shocked when she first heard about the plan, but agreed that seeing the happiness in the Syrian children’s eyes was priceless. Nearly 2 million Syrian refugees live in Turkey (Telegraph, August 4).

Petty violations

A disturbing factor in the rash of police shootings of unarmed black people and of deaths in police custody is that many of the victims were apprehended for petty offenses. Sandra Bland was stopped for not signaling a lane change, Samuel DuBose for a missing license plate, and Walter Scott for a busted taillight. A trend among municipalities is to issue fines as a means of generating revenue, and this onerous strategy falls disproportionately on people of color, many of whom are poor themselves. Not having the means to pay the fines can land them in jail, resulting in job loss and perpetuation of poverty—and increased distrust of law enforcement (Mother Jones, September/October).

No tears for Cecil

Goodwell Nzou, a doctoral student at Wake Forest University from Zimbabwe, is dismayed by all the sympathy Americans are showing for Cecil, the lion shot in Zim­babwe by an American dentist. Why do Americans care more for African animals than African people? Nzou wonders. Wild animals are a threat to people who live in rural areas and villages. Nzou’s own village was once terrorized by a tiger, which attacked his mother’s uncle and injured his leg. When the tiger was finally killed, no one cared who killed the tiger or whether it was poached or killed legally (New York Times, August 4).

Contentment

Accumulation of wealth beyond meeting our basic needs doesn’t make us more content, studies show. Dr. Michael Finkelstein says that contentment takes practice. Think back on a time when you felt a sense of contentment, he says—it likely didn’t come from material possessions. “Our task is to simply discover where [contentment] resides” and focus on those times and places. It helps to “practice thinking, believing, and saying that you’re grateful and thankful for what you’ve been given” (excerpt from Slow Medicine: Hope and Healing for Chronic Illness in Utne, July).