Perhaps because such hagiographies for Greek-Americans in the major newspapers of the mainstream media are rare, I feel a thrill in my soul and great pride when it happens.
Like the hagiography Frank Bruni, the New York Times columnist, wrote this week for Yale University professor Nicholas Christakis.
It would be hard to write an article more filled with praise than this for anyone.
Let’s take a quick look at who Christakis is:
He is an “An intellectual rock star,” according to Frank, who noted that, “In 2009, Time magazine put him on its list of 100 most influential people.”
(I had the opportunity to observe him up close last June at the philanthropy conference of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, in the context of the Summer Nostos Festival organized and funded by SNF, and he made a great impression on me.)
But that is not how he became known to the general public.
Christakis became famous nationwide after α confrontation he had with Yale students, where he teaches, in 2015.
That happened because his wife, Erika, who also taught there at the time, as Bruni writes, “had circulated a memo in which she questioned a university edict against culturally insensitive Halloween costumes, suggesting that students could police themselves and should have both the freedom to err and the strength to cope with offense. She wrote that her husband concurred.”
What followed was not described by Bruni, but the video, in which students had encircled Christakis and threatened him, was seen by millions. (Three years later, the same university “awarded him the Sterling Professorship, the school’s highest faculty honor.
This, in brief, is Christakis.
The Bruno’s article was due to the fact that Christakis just wrote a book titled “Blueprint”.
The message of Christakis’ book, despite what happened to him, is that there is reason for hope and optimism about our future.
“Yes,” he writes, “there are hideous wars and horrid leaders. But if that were the sum of us, how to explain all the peace and progress?”
That message, hope and optimism about the future of man, has become even more relevant after the horror we have experienced in recent days from the inconceivable human carnage in New Zealand, and the violence that followed in the Netherlands.
Yet these happenings constitute an insignificant point in the history of mankind.
A thought which justifies the hope and optimism with which this great Greek-American looks to the future of mankind.