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October 23, 2014
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Peace and Justice Files

Come out, come out

After literally decades of struggle and suffering, folks in the LGBT (etc.) community can finally point to some strong, concrete gains in their quest for social recognition, acceptance and respect. The notion of marriage equality is gaining support across the nation, the military’s “don’t ask don’t tell” policy is now just a vague memory, and even the Boy Scouts of America have begun reconsidering their homophobic stance. More than at any time in recent history, they can feel the freedom to be exactly who they are, and no longer worry about concealing themselves behind an artificial facade.  Read more

The reign of Wayne has driven us insane

“Aw, geez, now they’re really gonna try to take my guns...!”

As the news started to roll in from Newtown, CT, on December 14, I overheard that reaction. Maybe you overheard it, too, or maybe you said or thought it yourself. Let’s not rehash the heated discussions that followed the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary; those discussions, after all, have been repeated, practically word-for-word, so many times in recent years that we could probably repeat each side’s talking points in our sleep.  Read more

Meet Joe Schweik

Ah, Labor Day. A day for barbeques and beach trips, one last huzzah for the carefree times of summer before settling back into the dull routines of school, leaf-raking and, oh yes, work.  Read more

America held hostage

Right now, as I type this late on a Wednesday night, my Internet service is down. (Oh horrors!) So I don’t have immediate access to all the websites, quotations and statistics that I might wish to use to construct my argument. All I have in front of me is the latest issue, just arrived today, of the Northeast Pennsylvania Business Journal (NPBJ).  Read more

Long division

Those tireless pollsters at the Pew Research Center’s “People and the Press” project (www.people-press.org) recently released the results of their latest study—results that really should come as a surprise to no one. The Pew researchers say that, in terms of values and basic beliefs, Americans have become increasingly polarized along partisan lines over the last couple of decades. In fact, according to the study, political divisions have become the most significant in our society—exceeding the divisions that you might expect to find along gender, age, race, or even class lines.  Read more

How many nations are we, anyway?

While Bill Clinton was in the White House, you might recall, some members of the conservative gun-enthusiast community took to sporting bumperstickers that defiantly declared “My President is Charlton Heston” (Heston, of course, being the president of the National Rifle Association at the time). During the Bush Regime, I toyed with making a similar bumper sticker myself—though mine would have said “My President is Ralph Nader.” (However, I realized that might have put me in danger of severe reprisal—not so much from gung-ho nationalists as from unforgiving Al Gore supporters.)  Read more

Why can’t we all just get along? Well, for starters...

Recently, I visited the Sunday worship service of the Upper Delaware Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, which meets in Beach Lake, PA. (In the interests of full disclosure, I should mention that the minister of that congregation is also the publisher of this newspaper.) I was there to watch two of my favorite human beings, Mort Malkin and Christine San Jose, present a brief discussion they titled, “Can These Dis-United States Ever Find Common Ground?”—or, as I jokingly suggested they subtitle the program, “How Much Longer Can We Keep From Shooting Each Other?”  Read more

Utopia or oblivion

“Ameritopia.”

That’s the title of a new book by conservative radio host and professional blowhard Mark Levin. Levin, in case you’re not familiar with the fellow, is a lawyer and best-selling author, whose on-air delivery can sometimes make notorious curmudgeon Bob Grant sound like Casey Kasem in comparison. He’s become one of the more successful members of that enormous gaggle of commentators and pundits who make scads of money by telling their mostly-quite-comfortable audiences how embattled and imperiled they are, and how our society has become inundated by “liberal media.”  Read more

Worlds end

“Why do the birds go on singing?
Why do the stars glow above?
Don’t they know it’s the end of the world
It ended when I lost your love.”
– Sylvia Dee, “End of the World”

Worlds end all the time, you know.  Read more

Hark, our better angels sing

Writing here in 2006, I suggested this possible definition of “civilization:” “...we can be said to be more or less ‘civilized’ as a society, culture, or species to the extent that intentional acts of violence are unnecessary.”

Dr. Steven Pinker, I suspect, would not only agree with that definition, he would say that as a species, we have made significant progress towards its fulfillment. Pinker, a cognitive neuroscientist and Harvard professor, recently published (to near-universal praise, by the way) a book entitled “The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence has Declined.”  Read more