Resources

Perspective II

finding-your-purpose

Last week, we presented the notion that our point of view—regardless of the context—is a choice or choices we have made. Furthermore, we are always free to choose, free to exercise choice, whether we believe in the existence of such freedom or not. Finally, if our current perspective suggests a specific way of viewing the world, a different choice could present a completely different way of seeing (and being in) the world.

In an essay from February 2018 called “Finding Our Bearings”, L.M. Sacasas suggests that we have a better chance of knowing where we are, a better chance to get our bearings, if we broaden rather than narrow our perspective.
(more…)

Do Some GOOD Today

Two Items from Jen Hofmann’s
Americans of Conscience Action List

 

resist_1.pngIt has been more than a year since the current person occupying the White House along with a curiously right leaning Congress began implementing changes which have altered and at times threatened the lives and wellbeing of common people.  Even those who support the person whom some call “45” have begun to realize the People are not his primary interest.

Last year, many began flying a banner with the essential sentiment “Resist!”.  When a perceived wrong is being committed by anyone—an individual, a collection of individuals or a government—resistance represents the bare minimum activity for people of conscience.  But resistance is not enough.  We who truly do seek the wellbeing of the People should be focused primarily on proactive behavior that seeks to enhance or at least maintain the rights and privileges Americans have come to expect.

Jennifer-Hofmann-image-1.jpg

In this light, for well over a year, Jen Hofmann has been faithfully posting both opportunities for various types of action and thanks to those who have acted on behalf of others.  Although we have posted several links to Jen’s Action List in the past, we have not yet passed on anything from her list this year.  Today, we correct that.  Take a look at a couple entries from Jen’s list.  Better yet, go over to her page and choose something to do this week. (more…)

Inside-Outside II

Introduction to Part II

journey 3 - Part II

We began this journey with the Sophia Burns article on the movie, The Last Jedi.  Uncharacteristic for the Star Wars series, the general message was curiously populist—that people cannot rely on leaders or grand heroic figures to “fix things”.  We must rely on ourselves. In this second segment of Inside-Outside, we consider the driving forces within us and our collective experience as these forces impact our ability to choose.  Toward the end of the article, a simple exercise is presented—an exercise which, if employed diligently, could revolutionize our daily lives. (more…)

What’s Old is New Again

Remember Dan Rather? Most of us who are even “just a little bit older” certainly do. Mr. Rather, a former anchor of the CBS Evening News, was one of the most well-known broadcast news journalists during a time when the news gave the appearance of being “truer” than many broadcasts manage these days. Some of us might find comfort in knowing such a persons is still at it.

News with Dan Rather - Title.PNG
Apparently, Mr. Rather has teamed up with the Young Turks on their YouTube channel to present a weekly news broadcast. Take a look at the first one. Sober, direct, calm, seemingly non-partisan, the broadcast feels trustworthy enough. You might like it enough to subscribe.

Dan RatherThe endeavor, which Mr. Rather describes as “an answer to what TV news has become” is streamed on YouTube every Monday at 5:30 EST. You might at least get a bit of comfort, a brief respite from these troubled days of “fakenews”.

You might also want to check out the post “State of the Union Address” broadcast from the end of January.

 

On Tyranny

tyranny11

In a country fond of seeing itself as “the land of the free”, in the last couple decades, fear seems to have considerably tarnished this idealistic notion. We say we want freedom, but for whom? Too often, such notions suggest that we want freedom within the boundaries of what we idiosyncratically define as “US”—a term that has increasingly become more grounded in exclusivity than inclusion. This “US” comes to inform our socio-politically charged definition of freedom. In an attempt to stave off fear, our expectations are tinged by a new found xenophobia; we redefine a continually shrinking concept we used to refer to as “a free American”. In so doing, we open the door for those who would exploit our assumed sense of vulnerability. But when freedom does not apply to all, ultimately, it will fail to encompass any of us.

On Tyrrany“European democracies collapsed into right-wing authoritarianism and fascism in the 1920s and ‘30s… The European history of the twentieth century shows us that societies can break, democracies can fall, ethics can collapse, and ordinary men can find themselves standing over death pits with guns in their hands. It would serve us well today to understand why.”

So writes historian Timothy Snyder in his recently published book On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century. On Tyranny is a tiny book, 126 pages measuring only about 4×6 inches. Each of the twenty suggestions forms a chapter consisting of only two to five pages.

Mr. Snyder does express certain biases (such as casting a jaundiced eye toward the Internet). However, for the most part, the book is largely written from a non-partisan perspective, focusing on various means of preserving freedom and staving off tyrannical control. As the book is quite easy to read, you can probably finish it in an hour (although you will likely ruminate over its contents for much longer).

Some of Snyder’s suggestions are expected (such as #3 – Beware the One-party State). Others are either surprising or defined in a thought provoking manner. For example:

  • #  2 – Defend Institutions
  • #10 – Believe in Truth
  • #11 – Investigate

All address–directly or indirectly–some of the more hidden aspects of what is currently happening in the United States.

In a Washington Post review, Mr. Snyder’s book is described as “a slim book that fits alongside your pocket Constitution and feels only slightly less vital.”  Some folks have been so taken with this little gem that they have bought multiple copies to distribute for free (a little over $6 on Amazon).

Requiem - Chomsky book coverOnce you have read through the Snyder book a couple times you might, on reflection, find yourself thinking a bit differently about the state of affairs in the United States. While the twenty suggestions Snyder offers are pointed and helpful, the brevity of the book prevents comprehensive treatment of any idea. As such, you might want to follow-up Snyder’s book and expand your understanding the mechanism of tyranny by tackling the more in depth descriptions of “reality” in the U.S. by reading Requiem for the American Dream, Noam Chomsky’s new book. Professor Chomsky addresses tyranny from the perspective of identifying various tactics of oppression such as reducing democracy, attacking solidarity and marginalizing the population—all of which have been happening and continue to occur as you read this. Like On Tyranny, Requiem is easy to read, although not quite so brief.

Finally if you are really committed to understanding tyranny and how it might have been the underlying mode of governance in the United States for decades, consider Sheldon Wolin’s more challenging and comprehensive book Democracy Incorporated: Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism.

Responding to Hate

beyond hate

The tragic events last week in Charlottesville, Virginia stand as a reminder that the actions of some of us express staunch opposition to what we might call Good.   Steve Tanner, writing under the umbrella of 500 Pens: an anti-hate news project, offers an annotated list of thoughtful actions we might take when confronting hate in EveryDayLife.  In Mr. Tanner’s own words:

By arming ourselves with a solid understanding of best practices, we can all be ready to respond properly — and safely — when acts of hate unfold before our eyes. Every situation is unique, but the following list is meant to serve as a guide for how to best respond to acts of hatred and bigotry.  ~Steve Tanner 

His brief list of suggestions includes the following.

  • Draw Attention Away From Hateful Protests and Demonstrations
  • Do Not Engage with the Attackers
  • Focus on Protecting the Attacked Person
  • Alert the Police and Other Authorities When Appropriate
  • Prepare in Advance

Food for thought:  Consider the principle of the “golden rule” which appears in some form in almost all major religions and which forms the basis of Good to which this blog often refers.  Does a “hate stance” espoused by a group seeking to exclude others fall within the definition of a golden rule-type Good?  (Do not answer too quickly.  This so-called golden rule is not the same as “live and let live”.)

For example, a white supremacist might be perfectly willing to live in peace as long as non-white folks (and in some cases Jews) live elsewhere.  While some hate groups essentially preach genocide, others simply do not want to have to deal with others they do not considers to be “us”.  Is this a non-Good stance?  What are the criteria for Good?  How can we effectively express Good—treating others as we wish to be treated—in a pluralistic society? Perhaps the deeper question is this: What are the requirements for a pluralistic society sustaining itself within the idea of Good? What does freedom look like in such a context?


You might consider subscribing to the 500 Pens newsletter.  You can also follow 500 Pens on Facebook and Twitter.

 

 

Update: WikiTribune – On its way!

WikiTRIBUNE_logo.svg

Remember the seekingGood teaser about the crowdfunding endeavor for WikiTribune, a new evidence-based journalistic initiative launched by Jimmy Wales (one of the founders of wikipedia)?  The group behind WikiTribune reached their funding goal and has entered the next phase of the project.  Take a peek here if you would like a more general update on what is going on with WikiTribune.

More specifically, as of August 3rd, 2017, WikiTribune has hired three journalists and an editor, all of whom you might like to know more about. (more…)