It’s that time of year again when people eat prodigious quantities of food, engage in sometimes contentious conversations with relatives they haven’t seen all that often and perhaps watch football or parades. Yes, it’s Thanksgiving. Tongue-in-cheek comments as the above are not my real feelings. Probably they are not yours or those of the stereotypical American. Just in case they are, on the eve of this annual American version of this holiday let’s consider these words from Daisaku Ikeda.
None of us can exist in isolation. Our lives and existence are supported by others in seen and unseen ways, be it by parents, mentors or society at large. To be aware of these connections, to feel appreciation for them, and to strive to give something back to society in a spirit of gratitude is the proper way for human beings to live.
From the time Obama entered office in 2009, the GOP has opposed virtually every initiative he has proposed. With little assistance and plenty of opposition, the economic collapse Obama inherited from his predecessor Bush has been substantially dealt with–ongoing job creation has continued for nearly five years. GDP is on the upswing and interest rates remain low. Housing starts are up and unemployment down. A universal health plan first proposed decades ago by Republican presidents is the law of the land but the hair on Republican heads continues to blaze. One definition of insanity is continuing to do the same thing with an expectation of a different outcome. The GOP-led house has attempted to repeal the Affordable Care Act (popularly/unpopularly known as Obamacare) over 50 times. The act has survived court scrutiny. Now Speaker of the House, John Boehner has said he will sue the president over it. Continue reading →
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Medical marijuana is now legal, with many restrictions and qualifiers, in 23 states and more are pending. Two states already allow sale of recreational marijuana. Another, Alaska, will soon follow. Others are considering the matter. The tide of same-sex marriages becoming legal has now taken on an inevitability with now only a small minority NOT permitting it. The process started out slowly but now is happening rapidly. While there is a significant federal component (tax and retirement benefits, treatment of military and federal employees, federal employment discrimination laws, etc.) the actual recognition of marriages is a state matter. Marijuana, however, has a substantial federal law enforcement component–it is a Schedule 1 drug, regarded subject to federal prosecution for possession, growth or sale much like very serious narcotics such as heroin. In federal law, it has no redeeming medical or other value; it is simply a dangerous drug whose users must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. In the meantime, terrible federal legal consequences can and do follow for some of those who use it legally under state laws for the significant medical benefits they receive. See this opinion piece from CNN.Continue reading →
“To shift one’s thinking and see things from another perspective is the first step to changing both oneself and one’s environment.”
The ocean rejects no river, taking the latter’s freshness as a trifling dilution, replenishing the water lost to evaporation. There is always room for more. The aging mind has accumulated vast amounts of information over decades of interaction with the physical and social environment—education, conversation, books, movies, TV, radio and travel here and there. Like the ocean depths, there is always room for more data in the human brain—at least so long as the mind remains open to the new. Rejecting the flow of ideas which may conflict with cherished views already resident and fully formed into concrete concepts is the nature of a closed mind. It’s an unhealthy mind, subject to stagnation, that won’t accept the new.
From AARP’s perspective, ageism is the scourge of youthful, millennial to pre-middle aged folks. Often in advertising, TV programming, human resources or supervisory/managerial roles the younger ones assume boomers and beyond are of no value. They mock their elders’ supposed lack of understanding of technology with ads like the one about the woman putting up her photos on her actual, not virtual, wall. They expect that the older folks’ creative juices have evaporated, that the boomers and up are set in their ways and should be let go as soon as possible or at least not promoted. But it came to me the other day, looking at Ronan Farrow on MSNBC, that ageism can run in the opposite direction. He just looks WAY TOO young to know anything of consequence or be capable of passing along any sensible information. Oh sure, he no doubt has a good grasp of the newest apps for smart phones and tablets. Probably has the scoop on what’s trending on Twitter and other social media, knows the best clubs to hit, etc. But anchor his own show on MSNBC? Seriously! In fact, it does seem he is well educated and intelligent—graduating from Bard College at 15, getting a Yale Law degree and attended Magdalen College of Oxford—all before his current age of 26. I won’t hold it against him that he is the son of Mia Farrow and either Woody Allen or Frank Sinatra; nobody, including his mother apparently knows for sure. Of course, I knew plenty when I was 26—just not enough to know what I wanted to do with myself until five years later. Oh well. Still, education is no substitute for life experience. Ronan is STILL too young to have his own show; even if he does have a pretty face, I change the channel when he shows up.
An experience by long-time member Keith Robinson chronicling his introduction to Buddhism and the peace initiatives of SGI leader Daisaku Ikeda, culminating in a happy and fortunate life for Keith and his family
The conclusion of the three-part series on Buddhism and Pragmatism, pointing out the significant correlations between what some people may view as a Japanese religion and an American philosophical system
Kaci Hickox riding her bike in Maine. Photo from BBC: http://news.bbcimg.co.uk/media/images/78644000/jpg/_78644964_78644963.jpg
Kaci Hickox went to West Africa as a volunteer, nursing Ebola patients. With a 70% mortality rate in those medically underserved areas, most were dying. Death from Ebola is a painful process with awful symptoms that I won’t go into here. Unlike in Africa, the survivalrate in America seems to greatly exceed the mortalityrate in Africa–with only one death among nine patients treated here. For her compassionate efforts in Africa, Kaci came back home to treatment as a latter day leper. Confined first to a tent for three days on the order of New Jersey’s Governor Christie, she went home to Maine where that state’s governor sought to enforce a 21-day quarantine to her house. This despite the absence of any observable or detectable symptoms of the dread disease—simply because she was in the presence of and treated others who did have Ebola. Quarantine is supposed to prevent the spread of communicable disease. But when it does not appear that a person has a disease to spread, it amounts instead to a house arrest for which no crime has been committed. For being a good Samaritan she is to be punished rather than honored. In politics, science is often ignored, in favor of the admonition “don’t try to confuse me with the facts; I already have my mind made up.”
None of the politicians clamoring for quarantines and travel bans are old enough to have memories of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. But surely most, if not all, have seen or heard Roosevelt’s famous quote: “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.” The pols, of course, do not fear Ebola nearly as much as they fear the result of the next election should they fail to heed hysteria among the populace to do something—anything and everything, actually. The fact that a substantial majority of the public may be convinced that the sky is in imminent danger of collapsing is more than enough to move a politician to action. Statesmen are in short supply in governor’s offices across America. Ebola is giving populism a bad name. Fortunately, a judge in Maine has not seen fit to go the full ten yards with Governor LePage in quarantining Kaci Hickox. Thankfully, the legal system requires facts, not fear, to restrict someone’s liberty. In case you didn’t notice, the news media clustering around Hickox on her bike ride apparently do not share the pols’ fear of catching Ebola from her.
It rained today. Weather forecast from National Weather Service said sunny. So who supervises those people at NWS? Obama appointees. It’s his fault my picnic was ruined.
The stock market went down today. I lost money. See, Obama keeps bashing Wall Street, the economy is not as good as if Mitt were President. It’s Obama’s fault I lost money.
My dog is sick. Traffic is too heavy and slow on my commute to work. My wife/husband is angry at me all the time. It’s Obama’s fault–all of it! He is the President–he is responsible for everything wrong with America and with my life! He can’t do anything right! Just wait until Rush Limbaugh and the Republicans take over the Congress and the White House–then you’ll see! No more whining then–just cheese.
I believe that basically you write for two people; yourself to try to make it absolutely perfect; or if not that then wonderful. Then you write for who you love whether she can read or write or not and whether she is alive or dead.
— Ernest Hemingway to Arthur Mizener, 1950 Selected Letters, p. 694.
I, too, do write for myself and her but as much or more for the rest of the world–who I want to share my thoughts, my life, my experiences and my philosophy with.