My name is Dev Iyer and I’m a male, 24 year old, Indian-American. I was born inside the Bible Belt town of Huntsville, Alabama. It was a magical place – full of overflowing Southern hospitality and a relaxed pace of life, juxtaposed by the clattering sounds of space shuttles being engineered within the headquarters of NASA.
As a 5 year old, I remember feeling a sense of wonder and affection when meeting a stranger. Without any preconceived stereotypes in my head, each person I met, whether young or old, black or white, foreign or American, was a tabula rasa, a blank window into a new world.
Although I didn’t know what it was at the time, I now realize what I had as a child. Not only me, but what we ALL have as children, until many of us lose it upon entering adulthood. The ancient Greeks called this “agape.”
“Agape” means “love”, but it is love that’s beyond aesthetic or romantic love. Agape is understanding, redemptive good will for all men. It’s an overflowing love that seeks nothing in return. As children we innately have this. As adults, we experience this love in 2 ways: First, we believe that people are good, deep down, regardless of what they do. Second, we find the courage to love the person who commits an evil deed, while taking action to right the wrong they committed.
In this era of technological innovation, we let Facebook news feeds re-iterate our preconceived notions, and 140-characters dictate opinion based on popularity, not logical reasoning. Our voices flutter within bubbles, echoing opinions we enjoy while discarding perspectives that are contrary to our beliefs.
Yet, despite the horrors we’re seeing online - children being massacred in Aleppo, opioid drug abuse ravaging Appalachia, climate change skeptics appointed to lead the EPA - we cannot forget what courageous free women and men can achieve when imagination is joined towards a common purpose.
With “agape” must come action. Action to fight for what we believe in, action to preserve the magnificent beauty of our world, action to cause future historians to say, “2016 was a dreadful year for humanity, but thank GOD for 2017.”
To act on this courage, sometimes all we need is 60 seconds. 60 seconds of our time to push a tiny domino.
Do you have 60 seconds right now?
Here are two initiatives making a true difference as you are reading this. Right now, take 60 seconds to act on one of them:
Save Syrian children from being massacred in airstrikes by donating $10 to the White Helmets, a civil defense group of unarmed volunteers in Syria that bravely rush into the rubble of buildings hit by airstrikes to save families.
Have a conversation with someone outside of your social media bubble by signing up for Still One Nation, an application that joins you in a video chat with two other people of different perspectives contrary to your own. (stillonenation dot org)
Whomever you are in this beautiful world, I give all my peace and love to you.
P.S. – Hey Listserv, did I mention I’m a musician that creates electronic music? I want to kickoff a new Listserv tradition by making a song for you! Go to Google and search “Philtered Soul Soundcloud” - and listen to the first track on the page. I hope it brightens your day :)
United States of America