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April 25, 2014
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Peace and Justice Files

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

Not a moment too soon

As of the day of this writing, I have officially joined the ranks of the carless.  Read more

You say you wanna revolution

“Well you know, we all want to change the world...”

—Lennon/McCartney

Google the word “revolution.” Your first result might be the Wikipedia entry, which provides a useful place to begin exploring this wide-ranging concept. The entry opens with a definition: “A fundamental change in power or organizational structures that takes place in a relatively short period of time.”  Read more

Quote, unquote, Part 2

First, let’s check our quiz answers from last month, shall we?

Here’s the actual quote from President George H. W. Bush, from his State of the Union Address for 1992: “The opponents of this measure [cutting the capital gains tax] and those who’ve authored various so-called soak-the-rich bills that are floating around this chamber should be reminded of something: When they aim at the big guy, they usually hit the little guy. And maybe it’s time that stopped.”  Read more

Lay them to rest

It didn’t take long at all, once they got around to it—less than 40 minutes from arrival to departure. No time, apparently, for epic hand-to-hand struggles, breathless pursuits, or final, defiant soliloquies (though these will no doubt be added to the movie and video-game versions). A bit of gunfire, and the job was done. And just a few hours later, a weighted bag containing the shroud-wrapped corpse of Osama bin Laden slid off the deck of the USS Carl Vinson into the waters of the Arabian Sea.  Read more

Nasrudin’s donkey

You may not be familiar with the Mulla Nasrudin, but he’s a fascinating fellow to get to know. Apparently a real person at one time, he now lives on as a character in folklore, appearing under various names and guises from Bulgaria to Afghanistan and beyond. (Look in Wikipedia under “Nasreddin” to learn more.)  Read more