Is the purpose of government to protect the common welfare or protect private property? This question is at the heart of American politics and encapsulates many of the differences between those on the right and those on the left.
Conservatives argue that individual liberty is at the core of American… Read the rest
I grew up in the suburbs of New York City where five of us lived in a three-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bath single family home with our dog Bobo and an occasional cat. Behind our backyard was a wooded patch, a ramble of oak, maple, beech, and various shrubs; in the spring, skunk cabbage would pop up in its water-logged… Read the rest
Ideas propel human society, imagination providing an inexhaustible source of fuel. Boundless in reach, ideas cross borders and influence cultures through networks of communication. Originally networks of communication traveled at the speed of direct transmission, sensory experiences such… Read the rest
I was never much of an athlete as a child. I was well coordinated, and certainly strong enough, but spending hours practicing a sport was not of much interest to me. My grammar school experience didn’t help; in fact, gym class with Mr. D discouraged it further.
On December 7th I’ll be checking into the hospital to undergo a cardiac ablation procedure, a process of inserting electrodes and catheters into a blood vessel in my groin, snaking them up and into my heart, and using them to cauterize some confused heart cells that are causing me to have repeated episodes… Read the rest
While walking this past week I noticed whitish imprints on the bike path, the result of muddy water having collected under wet leaves that had dried once the sun came out and had blown away. Evanescent, such imprints will disappear quickly, and it got me thinking about what we leave behind.
Consider the human condition in all its glory: creative, depressing, loving, deceitful, generous, lawless, kind, hateful, gregarious, afraid, compassionate, and cruel. What a chaotic and confusing mix of elements we are.
No matter the era, political system, geographic location, economic status… Read the rest
My mother was a fantastic cook. Once during a visit to our home, she felt the need to get into the kitchen, but the fridge was mostly bare except for some lemons. For her, that was enough. When life delivered lemons, she made lemon sauce.
I grew up standing by the stove watching mom cook. When I was about eight… Read the rest
Our word “silly” is derived from Old English, and originally meant blessed or lucky. As so often happens, its meaning changed over time. By Shakespeare’s day, silly had come to mean thoughtless or foolhardy, and it retains that meaning plus another that encompasses amusing or playful behaviors, like… Read the rest
Self-awareness is a double-edged sword; awareness of self presupposes awareness of other. Developmentally, this experience typically occurs during infancy, and although the duality of this shift of consciousness is fundamental to being human, it is not entirely comfortable; resolving its inherent… Read the rest
The daily news is generally terrible and if you pay attention to it, hopelessness and depression are often a reasonable response. Between armed conflict, starving refugees, climate change, political corruption, and rampant consumerism, human behavior provides more horror than anyone needs.… Read the rest
We’re all used to maps, even our smart phones have them. Maps help us locate ourselves, providing a sense of what surrounds us to determine how best to get where we want to go. In addition to paper and digital maps, we also employ mind-maps. Mind-maps are imaginary, internal projections of space; we use… Read the rest
Life can be a punishing experience, and difficulties often happen without advance notice. Aging, sickness and death await us all, the foundational elements of myriad forms of suffering. When things get really bad, inevitably the question arises: is life worth living?
While on a retreat at Sonoma Mountain Zen Center, a small sign in the communal restroom saying “Leave No Trace” caught my attention. Outwardly directing that everyone should clean up after themselves, the message’s inner meaning pointed to Zen instruction about the responsibility we have to each … Read the rest
When EBay hit the internet in 1995, it provided people an easy way to sell their stuff and with it the modern distinction between commercial and non-commercial activity began to blur. Suddenly, that old toaster inherited from mom became “vintage” and saleable. From there it spread to possessions overall,… Read the rest
The boys and I have continued to explore life’s vexing questions, moving on from whether any of us want to “come back” to what, exactly, is the reason for making that decision. It occurs to me that the opening of Charles Dickens’ 1859 book, A Tale of Two Cities sums up the dilemma perfectly:
Every society is built upon a moral framework, a set of precepts about how to live together. These precepts generally align across cultures, and include prohibitions against murder and theft, except ironically, when murder and theft are committed against those deemed outsiders, intruders or scofflaws.… Read the rest
Those of you who regularly read my scribblings know that I’ll write about anything at all. The past 800 columns reflect what’s on my mind at any particular time; I learned long ago that writing a regular… Read the rest
According to a new book, General Mark Milley, Chairman of America’s military Joint Chiefs of Staff, was so alarmed at Trump’s behavior leading up to the transition of power that he referred to the former President’s comments as sounding like Adolph Hitler. He conferred with other members of the military… Read the rest