The Chilling Effect of Labels

What is a socialist? What is a capitalist? Both are labels for a set of ideas that include some beliefs and norms. Both incorporate beliefs about human nature and economic activity. Both also include prescriptions of certain behaviors or norms. Whenever we use these labels in discussions, we attach specific fixed beliefs and norms to them, regardless of the fuzziness of the labels. In a sense, their use is a form of political racism: all capitalists, as we label, or all socialists are bad. Or capitalism is bad. Or socialism is bad. The same kind of labeling and its consequences applies to liberal and conservative. The error in reducing complex… Read More

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Needed: A New Self-Consciousness

Among other sources of the good and bad news that permeates the internet and other media these days, I follow a couple of ambitious news groups: The Great Transition Network (GTN) and the Sustainable Consumption world (SCORAI). Both are worthy sources of some very clear thinking about what will be needed to secure a just and sustainable future. But both (and virtually all others seeking an effective path forward), I believe, are missing an essential prerequisite: a shift in human self-consciousness. Put into other words, until human beings begin to think of themselves as caring creatures (Homo curitans), rather than adopt the current dominant view as selfish, needy, violent actors… Read More

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Trump’s Walls

About the only wall we hear about in the news media is the one that hasn’t yet gone up along the Texas-Mexico border. Given the split House of Representatives, it is now more unlikely to be built. But that is not the wall we should be worried about. There are other walls being constructed silently that are much more dangerous to health of the body politic. One is the wall formed by the huge economic gap between the super-rich and the rest of us. It’s not the old story about the rich and the poor, but a about a tiny group of people that have gathered in the bulk of… Read More

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A Message for Everyone

It’s only a few hours until the polls close. I am hopeful that some manner of sanity and solidarity will emerge, but not sure that even a repudiation of the current political situation will make much of a difference. But against my fears, I am buoyed by the words of the Jewish nurse who took care of the man who had just murdered 11 people. His entire message is worth reading, but his closing words, which follow demand close attention. I have been writing about love as central to flourishing for quite a while, but my words pale in comparison. Love. That’s why I did it. Love as an action… Read More

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Old Words for Our Times

The Second Coming (1919) W. B. Yeats 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. Surely some revelation is at hand; Surely the Second Coming is at hand. The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert A shape with lion body and the head of a man, A… Read More

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It’s A. W. 1984 (anno orwelliano)

I have not abandoned my web site although it would seem to be the case. The site went off-line a couple of weeks ago because I was hacked. Fortunately I keep a backup and was able to recover pretty quickly. The primary reason is not that, but simply a block that shows up every time I try to post something meaningful. I can’t find anything in the flurry of news and events I intersect with every day. I feel like I am walking through some distant foreign land I barely recognize. How can I write about reality and its child, facts, when there is little listening or understanding about these… Read More

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Return Again

Today is the Jewish New Year and I have just come back from services at my temple. While this holy day carries many challenging thoughts, the primary one that I took away was t’shuvah. The Hebrew word is most often equated with “repentance,” but its roots are closer to the meaning of “return.” But return to what? One of the best responses to this can be found in a song using the words of Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach. Recorded by many voices, it also is reprinted in the prayer book we use. Return again, return again, return to the Land of your Soul. Return to who you are, return to what… Read More

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Opening the Eyes: The Only Way

I have avoided adding posts to the blog for several months. There is already too much noise and heat being generated about the current state of the political system in the United States. Yet, I cannot get it out of my mind. I cannot, with any honest concern, read the papers or watch the news or tune into any of the social media (I rarely do anyway). Yet I cannot get away from the continuing sense of foreboding I feel. For the last couple of years, I could have excused the failure to get involved as the result of being completely immersed in writing a book. But it is finished… Read More

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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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