On February 4, 2024, Tysons Interfaith will partner with George Mason University for an Webinar entitled Spirituality and Well-Being: Exploring the Connection. As we prepare for this engaging and interactive event, I wanted to share a recent article from the Christian Science Monitor, that is completely relevant to our upcoming discussion. It is entitled: “The glue of seeing good.”
I hope many people will be interested in joining our February 4 webinar, and/or may be encouraged by the findings of this article:
“The glue of seeing good”
Surveys show a breadth of spirituality binding Americans to each other in connections of empathy and affection.
The Christian Science Monitor: December 21, 2023
Worried that Americans are marching into an election year more divided than ever? Take another look.
In October, a first-ever Connection Index offered a striking counternarrative. Conducted by The Harris Poll, it found that 76% of Americans see the good in those they disagree with and 71% have friends who hold views they don’t share.
Those attitudes may reflect something more than mere personal affection. A new survey of American spirituality reveals a deeper basis of thought binding society together. Published by the Pew Research Center this month, the study asked more than 11,000 Americans how they thought about spirituality. It found a recurring theme of connectedness.
For example, 74% described “being connected with something bigger than myself” as an essential quality of spirituality. Seventy percent said the same about “being connected with God,” while 64% said “being connected with my ‘true self’” and 54% said “being open-minded” were essential to spirituality. Nearly 4 in 10 said spirituality involved “being connected with other people.”
Overall, the survey found, 9 in 10 Americans believe in God or a power higher than themselves, 70% describe themselves as spiritual, and 53% expressed a “deep sense of connection with humanity.” These views were drawn from across multiple demographic and denominational boundaries.
For years, medical practitioners have been gathering evidence that spirituality is a vital factor in health. Some 90% of medical schools in the United States, 59% in Britain, and 52% in German-speaking countries now include spiritual studies in their curricula. As the Pew study notes, society is drawing new distinctions between being spiritual and being religious. Doctors and nurses incorporating spirituality in health care often start with the simple act of listening.
“When I think of spirituality in health care, it’s the connection we make with other people,” Diana Vereni, an associate professor of physical therapy at Sacred Heart University in Connecticut, told a public forum in July. Such empathy and compassion promote healing by alleviating fear and affirming a sense of individual worth, medical studies have shown.
They have a similar effect on society as a whole. “Social connectedness influences our minds, bodies, and behaviors – all of which influence our health and life expectancy,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention concluded in a March study. “Inclusive connections in our neighborhoods, schools, places of worship, workplaces, and other settings are associated with … and support the overall well-being, health, safety, and resilience of communities.”
For one respondent in the Pew study, spirituality meant being able to “see the beauty in everything, feel the love of Mother Nature, to know that there is something out there that is greater than me, that loves me, that looks out for me.” That kind of seeing good may be the reason behind the Connection Index finding that Americans don’t need to agree in order to get along.”
This blog post is the expressed opinion of its writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Tysons Interfaith or its members.