What Would It Mean To Respect the Dignity of Every Person—Without Exception?

I recently finished reading a provocative new book by Nathan Walker titled Cultivating Empathy: The Worth and Dignity of Every Person — Without Exception. Nate invites us to experiment with our moral imagination: “the ability to anticipate or project oneself into the middle of a moral dilemma or conflict and understand all the points of view.” Note that, “Understanding does not necessarily mean agreement” (xvii-xviii).Consider the experience of Ruby Bridges (1954-). In 1960, when she was six- … [Read more...]

Challenging Trump’s Islamophobia: Demagoguery & Democracy

The Huffington Post adds the following Editor’s note to every article they publish about Donald Trump: "Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from entering the U.S." When I encounter this line of fear-mongering, I am both angered and saddened that the normal everyday lives of most of the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims too ofte … [Read more...]

Whose Side Are You On? The Legacy of Anne Braden for Today

This summer at UU General Assembly, the author and activist Chris Crass (1973 - ) facilitated a workshop on “Collective Liberation.” One of his questions that stuck with me is, “Who was it that got you involved in the movement for justice?” That question made me pause in gratitude for all the activists whose sacrifices made possible the social progress we enjoy today. I also experience that question as an invitation to consider the way that we can inspire others to join the movement toward “peace … [Read more...]

Trump & Toxic Masculinity

Sunday marked the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon. Many of us can likely remember where we were that morning. And even as many of us will never forget the trauma of that day, this anniversary is an opportunity to reflect on what the passing of fifteen years means in our cultural memory. As difficult as it is to comprehend, part of what the passage of time means is that “nearly one-fifth of the current population was born after the at … [Read more...]

“Hardwiring Happiness”: How to Have More Positive Experiences in Your Life

This summer Magin and I had the opportunity to attend an eight-day meditation retreat in North Carolina through an organization called Buddhist Geeks. One central question for this group is “How can we serve the convergence of Buddhism with rapidly evolving technology and an increasingly global culture?” I described this approach in a post a few years ago on Pragmatic Buddhism, Westernized Dharma, and 21st-century Sangha. The basic idea is that in contrast to believing stories of what someone a … [Read more...]

People, Planet, Profit: Money Is Not the Only Bottom Line

In addition to spending time with family and friends on Labor Day Weekend, I try to be mindful that Labor Day is about much more than a three-day weekend, symbolically marking the end of summer. The first Monday in September was set apart as a time to celebrate the labor movement’s role in securing worker’s rights. In the late nineteenth century, an increasing number of states officially recognized Labor Day as a holiday, culminating in Congress declaring Labor Day a federal holiday in 1894. An … [Read more...]

“Becoming Wise”: The Practice of Generous Listening

“What do you want to be when you grow up?” I've responded to that question many different ways over the year. As I approach middle age, I'm beginning to consider that one thing I might want to become one day is an elder — with the connotation not only of being “older than I once was,” but also of being wiser. Our invitation is to move from “Age-ing to Sage-ing.” Have you ever been in the middle of a meeting — especially a heated debate — and heard an elder speak? In the midst of sparks flying a … [Read more...]

Falling Down & Rising Strong

I've posted previously about Brené Brown’s book The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are. I’m a fan of Brown’s work. Another accessible introduction to Brown’s work is her TED Talks. What I appreciate most about Brown’s work is that she courageously and compassionately addresses topics that most of us have been taught to avoid. Almost two decades ago, she told her husband, “I want to start a global conversation about vulnerability and sha … [Read more...]

Modern Uncertainty: “Meeting the Universe Halfway”

A member of the congregation I serve emailed me recently on the topic about modern uncertainty:In the nineteenth century, Robert Browning could write, “God 's in His heaven — All’s right with the world!” There was a high level of certainty that we were on the path to an earthly paradise. At the dawn of the twentieth century, quantum effects disrupted the view of science that nature was predictable at the most basic level. Wittgenstein questioned whether there indeed were any philosophical q … [Read more...]

Gender Liberation

Last summer, when The United States Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage, we celebrated a watershed moment in the struggle for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual equality. And as significant as that victory was, the struggle for equal rights — for equal protection under the law — is not yet complete. Even though same-sex marriage is legal in all fifty states, “Twenty nine states lack anti-discrimination laws that include sexual orientation or gender identity, and there is no federal law protecting ac … [Read more...]