America’s conversation about race has, like all of our public conversations, come to consist largely of a running commentary on viral spectacles. Recent weeks have been rife with them—the Oklahoma University SAE video chant and the dreadful scene of the double shooting of police in Ferguson; the awesome images of a sitting and a former president crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma on the anniversary of Bloody Sunday, heading a massive multiracial and multigenerational crowd; the face of University of Virginia student Martese Johnson, bloodied by Alcohol Board of Control officers.
You don’t normally see the names Pope Francis and Robin Williams in the same sentence, but here goes.
Early in his career, the brilliant comedian and actor Robin Williams scored big with a performance called Reality—What a Concept. This wonderful play on words came to mind when I heard a few lines from one of Pope Francis’ talks during his visit to the Philippines earlier this year. They gained little attention, but are critical to understanding how he wants to enliven the church and the world. “Reality,” he told a large group of young people, “is superior to ideas.”
Dan Price, owner and chief executive officer of Gravity Payments, has cut his salary and given each of his employees a $70,000 wage. This move raises the salaries for more than half of the 120-person staff at his credit card processing company in Seattle. Many business leaders have criticized his move. Rush Limbaugh called it socialist, predicting the company would fail. Tim Kane, an economist at the conservative Hoover Institute at Stanford University, said, “It will reduce turnover, increase morale, and help him build an even greater company.” The day after the new wage plan was made public, Price received letters from 3,500 job applicants, and Gravity signed up several new clients (New York Times, April 19).