For 7 Thursdays, World Youth Alliance North America members, friends, and friends of friends, have gathered in the library of 228 East 71st Street in New York City for drinks and discussion on topics ranging from dignity and human rights to freedom and culture. Like many great things, what began as a small group gathering around a table has since grown to overflow room capacity. Each week, participants bring a bottle of wine, along with their close friends and colleagues, to “discuss deep issues and encounter people who share a similar passion for discovering the truth,” said Jean Paul Destarac, a weekly participant.
Questions range from the economic: “How do you build a just capitalistic society,” to the social: “Do pop stars like Ke$ha contribute to shaping behavioral norms?” Regardless of topic, conversation is kind, cordial and thought provoking.
“The Drinks and Discussion events held at WYA have increased my understanding of myself and bettered my capability of discussing the true essence of human dignity.” — 7 Thursdays Participant
Sometimes led by a moderator, other times moving along organically, participants voice personal questions of daily import in response to weekly readings excerpted from the WYA Track A training, such as: “Two Ideas of Freedom,” by George Weigel, “Introduction to Man in the Struggle for Peace,” by Charles Malik, “The Problem of the Separation of Experience from the Act in Ethics,” by Karol Wojtyla and “Experiences in a Concentration Camp,” by Viktor Frankl.
At WYA, culture, education, and advocacy are not separate areas of inquiry but integral parts to the whole, shaping our vision of the human person and society. The goal of the 7 Thursdays was to provide a forum for young people to come together to examine and discuss “who is the human person?” amidst what is often a superficial and polarized contemporary cultural discourse, here in North America. In this case, I’d say it’s been a success:
“At WYA, the doors are open for people of all faiths and from all nationalities, which prove that certain ideas about the human person go far beyond a like-minded group in one city, but can truly be understood globally. Having an organization like WYA has improved NYC for my friends, and myself. In a city often plagued by loneliness and anonymity, at WYA, one can find a home.” — 7 Thursdays Participant
Here’s hoping 7 Thursdays will continue its lucky strike here in New York City and continue to other cities across North America.