Third-year discusses community, decency, honesty at Rockefeller talk

By Zach Werner

Third-year Tyler Zoanni, a peer minister of Lutheran Campus Ministry and co-chair of Interfaith Dialogue, gave the latest installment of the “What Matters to Me and Why” discussion series at Rockefeller Chapel last Thursday.

Zoanni focused on three topics: community, decency, and honesty. He explained how each idea shapes his commitments and his outlook on life.

“I try to look at each day as a gift from God,” Zoanni said, describing the importance of his Lutheran faith. “I try to live in line with some higher purpose.”

Zoanni said he learned the importance of community after a family car accident. Many members of his frontier hometown of 4,000 people in Montana helped out in his time of need.

“It is astounding to me to look back at how generous people are when confronted with adversity or crisis,” he said.

Zoanni also discussed the communities he has found and helped form at the U of C, referencing his house, the Lutheran Ministry, and his interfaith group. He called the University a “community of communities” composed of both large groups and smaller associations.

In talking about decency, Zoanni bemoaned the pejorative connotation of the word. “It’s sad that this is now a word for mediocrity,” he said.

For Zoanni, decency means making commitments and living by those commitments. He asked, “What is it that we are called to do?”

Lastly, Zoanni spoke about the importance of honesty in his life. “We should strive to really tell the truth in all that we do,” he said.

Zoanni said he interprets honesty in a broad sense. “Telling the truth involves an awareness of the people around us,” he said.

He used this point to advocate acceptance of other people and their particular religious and political views. “It’s absurd for us to think that the people we disagree with don’t have good reasons for what they believe,” he said.