“This growing pandemic could, as this New Yorker article suggests, give rise to new forms of ritual and human behaviors — including religious rituals. In this new age of anxiety, Alonso, Erikson and other leaders have already begun to meet Catholics’ spiritual needs with creativity.”
“Age of Anxiety” is a reference to a famous work by one of my favorite poets, W.H. Auden. I included the line as a shout-out to Auden, and to my favorite journalist, Chris Hedges, who also loves Auden, and whose journalistic work continually inspires me.
RBG: What travel experience has most transformed you as a person?
“I spent a year abroad after I graduated from college, during which I lived in and traveled to 10 different countries. During that year, I spent four months in East Africa with a refugee advocacy organization as a communications intern. During the internship I visited Kakuma refugee camp in northern Kenya and spent a week in South Sudan, which at the time was a semi-autonomous region of Sudan.
I remember I visited a doctor in the U.S. to get shots before I departed, and he told me “You need to learn how to take care of yourself.” He was talking about anti-malaria medicine, rehydration salts, and knowing basic first-aid. But he was also talking about the reality that the illusion of safety we cling to in America was about to disappear. I was about to step out into the stark reality of the world, and I needed to know how to keep my shit together.
The week in Kakuma refugee camp and in South Sudan was transformational because it made me realize how little I knew about the world, how ridiculously privileged I am as a white middle-class American, and it taught me that I could trust myself and to trust in God and the universe. I learned that I could walk through fear and reach the light.”