In the undelivered speech he intended to give at the Dallas Trade Mart on November 22, 1963 President John F. Kennedy wrote, “In a world of complex and continuing problems, in a world full of frustrations and irritations, America’s leadership must be guided by the lights of learning and reason or else those who confuse rhetoric with reality and the plausible with the possible will gain the popular ascendancy with their seemingly swift and simple solutions to every world problem.”
We live in a complex and difficult world but we should realize that the world has always been complex and difficult. Historically, when people feel that the challenges that they face in their own generation and lives are becoming insurmountable they tend to look for a cause for their pain, dissatisfaction, hurt or difficulty. They often decide that the cause is some “other person” or group of people and they become susceptible to believing the “simple solutions to every world problem” that those who confuse “rhetoric with reality” put forward. Continue reading ““The Lights of Learning and Reason””→
Last evening I gave a talk to the Atlanta Southside Ultreya gathering. I was asked by several members of that group to post my remarks so that others in their group could hear them. The talk can be found here: Southside Ultreya Talk. It was an honor to be asked to address this wonderful group.
For many years I have been a big fan of TED Talks. I find that the talks generally live up to the TED slogan “Ideas Worth Sharing.” I don’t agree with every speaker and I don’t find all of the talks equally stimulating; but I usually learn something, find a unique perspective or discover a new way to think about the world that we all live in.
This week in something of a surprise, Pope Francis gave a talk to TED 2017 that was entitled The Only Future Worth Building Includes Everyone. In a world that is increasingly divisive, nationalistic, partisan, and fearful, the Pope makes a strong argument that each person can be a messenger of hope and all of our individual “yous” can be come a collective “us” to address the needs of our world and time. Regardless of your faith tradition or no faith tradition his talk is compelling and worth a 17 minute investment of time. If you would prefer to read his comments rather than listen to them they may be found here: His Holiness Pope Francis at TED2017
#Refugees who are fleeing persecution or the violence and destruction of war deserve to be welcomed. As I have stated before, it is in the National DNA of the American people to come to the aid of those who are in need, oppressed or desperate for safety. When we have failed to live up to this National instinct, we have found ourselves on the wrong side of history and later spoke of our profound regret. Take for instance, our country’s rejection of Jews fleeing Nazi Germany. After turning them away, many ended up dying in concentration camps at the hands of those they were trying to escape from. We recall that time and action with shame.
Hostility toward people in need is not an American characteristic or virtue. Neither is cowardice. Historically, Americans are willing to not only speak for those in need, but we have been willing to take risks to protect them. I like to think of our country like the man who is willing to take a personal risk and step into difficult situations to protect those who are more vulnerable. It is the country that we have tried to be in my lifetime. But things are changing.
President Trump’s ill conceived, poorly executed, and legally questionable Executive Order barring refugees seeking safety in the United States, is an act of both hostility and cowardice that is antithetical to our American tradition. Americans should be appalled, but for some reason 30%-40% of us are are not. We should ask ourselves, ‘Is the extremely low probability of a terrorist entering the country a fair balance against the pain and suffering of millions of people?’ My answer is, ‘It is not.’ To let people suffer and die because we might have the slight risk of harm is not an American virtue, it is cowardice.
For a real look at the “dangerous” people that so many Americans are so very afraid of, take the time to view the documentary: 4.1 Miles. It was made by Daphne Matziaraki and has been nominated for an Academy Award. After watching it, just ask yourself, do these people deserve our hostility or should we really have such great fear of them. I hope your answer on both questions is a firm NO! Let’s tell our leaders that we can do more, bear more and be welcoming and brave Americans.
There is just something wonderful about the first tomatoes from the garden each year. These are the first of what promises to be a large crop from our garden. Don’t let the green stripes fool you, that is what this variety Continue reading “First Fruits”→