A Surprisingly “Good” Movie

Last Friday, Ruth pressed me (not quite) to see, “Won’t You Be My Neighbor,” the documentary film about Fred Rogers. I went with considerable skepticism that I would find anything terribly interesting about a film about television for children. I was wrong. I came home profoundly moved. Since then, I have read a number of reviews about the film from commentators other than film critics, all extremely positive. The film earned a positive review from 133 out of 134 reviews as reported on Rotten Tomatoes. Wow. You can search for filmic reviews, but I want to focus on the key message I took away. Rogers spoke to each child as… Read More

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An Antiestablishment Moment

This is not about church and state as the title might suggest, but about the growth of the establishment. This Saturday, like almost every one during the summer, I went over to the Brunswick farmer’s market. It is always a happening, a wonderful gathering of offerings and excited people to enjoy them. To be allowed to show the wares at this market, the goods have to be grown or made locally. The range of stuff is amazing. This season, two booths are selling farmed oysters, a product being pushed by both Maine economic and marine resources agencies. Oysters, as filter feeders, clean seawater of algae and other suspended material. They… Read More

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Waiting for the Seventh Generation

The concept of “future” has always been a daunting challenge to human thinking and action. No matter how hard we try to propel ourselves into the future, it always stays a step ahead. Like Sisyphus’s persistent attempts to reach the top of the mountain, we can never get to the future, no matter hard we try. Human existence is limited to the present. These statements are not intended to deny the existence of the concepts of past, present, or future, but only to situate human existence. We are alive only in the present. The past is the record of our own previous moments and also those of collective memory. The… Read More

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Will the Center Hold?

William Butler Yeats famous line, “Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold,” is just one piece of his poem that has been used by others in the context of questions about the stability of the times. I find it extraordinarily relevant today, just about 100 years after it was published in 1920. Here’s the first verse. Turning and turning in the widening gyre The falcon cannot hear the falconer Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere The ceremony of innocence is drowned; The best lack all conviction, while the worst Are full of passionate intensity. The… Read More

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Complexity, Conservatism, and a Few Other Things

I am still awaiting a go-ahead to publish my new book. In the meantime, I will start posting little dribs and drabs, hoping got keep you interesting. I have already posted a number of entries about the divided brain, one of the central concepts on which this work is based. I continue to belief that this model of how we think is terribly important in understanding how we have gotten into the present messes and, more importantly, how we can get back on the road to flourishing. A second element is that flourishing is the correct vision for human societies to aim at. Today, I come back to a third… Read More

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The Little Secret about Sustainability is Coming Out

From today’s Washington Post: PUERTO VARAS, Chile — “Sustainability” may be a worthy goal, but the word has become cliché, now typically deployed in its adverbial form to modify various nature-exploiting activities like “logging” and “fishing” or the catch-all “development.” So let’s quit talking about “sustainable” this or that and face the overarching question about the future: Can we create a durable civilization in which humans become good neighbors in the community of life? Where our society is embedded in a matrix of wild nature that allows all creatures — from microorganisms to blue whales — freedom to pursue happiness and raise their progeny in a secure habitat? The path… Read More

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Ethics and the Divided Brain

I am back from our trip to Morocco, and have mostly caught up with my sleep and the hundreds of emails that had accumulated. I did have my iPhone along, but needed to respond to only a couple of timely messages. The trip taught me I can hit the “unsubscribe” link without missing anything important. It was a great trip. Morocco is very interesting. An Arab country, with remnants of old cultures—Roman, Jewish, Berber—mixed into a modern setting. We went from a few days of camping in the Sahara to snow-covered mountains in only a few hours drive. Here are a few photos showing the range of cultures: A Roman… Read More

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Learning about Conservatism

I’ve just started a new course at my learning-in-retirement program on Edmund Burke and the origins and history of conservatism. Only one class in and already I am having trouble seeing anything in common with Burke and what goes for this “ism” today. While I have find myself unable to stomach virtually everything coming down the political pipeline with the label “conservative,” I am surprised by how much of Burke’s political thinking makes sense. Our first class began with a collection for the members of all sorts of characterizations of Burke. Out of the potpourri that filled the whiteboard, these resonated. Burke comes across as a pragmatist. He was very… Read More

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