Public Service Reminder

“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” – Annie Dillard An invitation to think about how we are spending our days – for this is how we are spending our “one wild and precious life” ( A Summer Day by poet Mary Oliver).  [With gratitude to Berwick “Mahdi” Davenport of [Read More…]

The War of Positions and Communities of Resistance  

Antonio Gramsci was an early twentieth-century neo-Marxist who died in the 1930s as a result of imprisonment by the Italian Fascists. Gramsci described the inner-working of social systems as “the war of positions.” To simplify a bit, Gramsci thought that labels—cultural norms—create the positions oppressed groups must inhabit. These are the structures that keep certain [Read More…]

How Can You Say You Love Me?

The Rabbi Jeffrey Summit [of Tufts Hillel] tells a Hasidic story of the rabbi who watches two Russian peasants drinking together at an Inn. The first asks, “Boris, do you love me?” His friend replies, “Ivan, Do I love you, we’ve worked side by side on our farm for years. Of course I love you!” [Read More…]

The Mindfulness of Stoicism, Part Three  

Last week I continued a discussion of the seven Stoic methods of inner-discipline (what’s popularly called spiritual practice nowadays). Number one is “Write and Reflect in the Morning.” The second is 2. Focus on Your Goals. The list continues: 3. Take the Long View and Practice Letting Go 4. Visualize Catastrophe and Practice Letting [Read More…]

Cosmopolitanism in a Time of Petty Nationalism 

To be Humanist is to say, with the philosopher Diogenes of Sinope, “My city is the world.” (In Greek the English word “world” is “kosmos.”) Humanists are necessarily cosmopolites, not because we are always leaping on jets touring the planet, but because we have realized that all perceived differences in humanity (homo sapiens sapiens) are [Read More…]

When Hope Seems Silly

The life that no longer trusts another human being and no longer forms ties to the political community is not a human life any longer. ~Martha Nussbaum This summer of 2016 has been a summer of tragedy. Many are mentioning the summer of 1968 as the last time so much bad news crowded a season. [Read More…]

Black Lives Matter more than White Fear

Black Lives Matter. Black Lives Matter. In Louisiana In Minnesota In Texas Black Lives Matter. When we commit to undoing the systemic racism that sets black people up for harassed and penalized existence, that sets police up for fearful lives, that sets us all up to be dehumanized – only then can the news change. [Read More…]

You should start a meme, they said…

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On Outrage and Douchebags

Social media is great for so many things—staying in touch with distant friends and family, sharing the cute thing your kid or your cat just did, watching videos of people making delicious food at impossible speeds and much, much more. But what it is really superlative at is serving as a vehicle for expressions of [Read More…]

Advice to a Graduate

My daughter is about to graduate from high school in a few days, which leaves the terrifying prospect that she is now, more or less, an adult, and should know how to do the essential kinds of things that adults know how to do. I realize this is pretty much a fantasy, but still, I [Read More…]