Smart people saying smart things

Sr. Joan Chittister: 2012 Baccalaureate address at Stanford University

The great leaders of history have always been those who refused to barter their ideal for the sake of their personal interests and who rebelled against the lies of their times.

If you want to be a real leader, if you want to give a new kind of leadership, you cannot live to get the approval of a system, you must live to save the soul of it.

“As long as the world shall last, there will be wrongs,” Clarence Darrow warned us. “And if no leaders object, and no leaders rebel, those wrongs will last forever.”

If you really want to lead, you must rebel against forces of death that obstruct us from being fully human together.

Brian McLaren: “A question I can never get an answer to

If there is a God, is God best reflected:

a) in human love, but not human hate,
b) in human hate, but not human love, or
c) in both human hate and human love?

Now we would need to define more carefully what we mean by “hate” and “love,” no doubt – but assuming that by hate we mean hostility, the desire to harm or destroy another, and the desire to use one’s power to downgrade and destroy the well-being of another — then my guess is you will never get an “answer” (in terms of proof) to this question, but you will have enough data and instinct to make a faith choice in response to the question.

The Catholic philosopher Richard Kearney refers to this as life’s “wager” (drawing, no doubt, from Pascal). We literally bet our lives on love rather than hate being at the center of it all, hope rather than despair leading to meaning, faith and grace rather than resignation and fear being the way forward. That’s what faith is all about … not knowledge, answers, or proof as much as a choice for love, hope, love, and grace.

Mark Thoma: “The Role of Government

We cannot function economically without supporting infrastructure, we are already falling behind where ought to be and that will prove costly over time, and we cannot allow externalities, particularly those associated with global warming, to run rampant. Conservatives used to understand that government had an important role to play in these areas, and opposition to government was based upon coherent reasoning rather than a knee-jerk rejection of government.

This extremism within the Republican Party is hurting the economy. In the short-run, it makes it much harder to do anything about the recession. Even if you believe spending more on infrastructure will do nothing to help employment, letting infrastructure crumble will hurt our long-run growth, and presently the construction of infrastructure is about as cheap as it gets. Infrastructure is inherently a supply-side policy with attractive demand side effects in a recession, and the refusal of Republicans to support such spending looks far more like a political ploy than a well-reasoned position.

But that may pale in comparison to the long run consequences of failing to deal with global warming. Here we have a party that purports to be all about letting markets work their magic confronted with a clear market failure with considerable potential consequences, a problem that the private sector will not fix by itself. So what do they do? They know that there’s no solution except government intervention if they admit to a consequential market failure, so they deny that a problem even exists.

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