Virtue & Character

Virtue & Character


A Nightmare About America

America November 13th, 2022

While jogging at sundown one day in April 2003, I had a very moving experience, one that may indeed have bridged my conception of the spiritual and the worldly. My wandering mind juxtaposed my impression of American Indian culture, spirituality, worldview, and morality with the current state of affairs and mentality in European-American culture. I experienced a combination of seemingly coincidental events that struck me as conveying great meaning: that we may come to face a startling reckoning for our legacy and lifestyle.

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Self-Interest and Self-Righteousness

self-interest October 24th, 2022

I aim to convince the reader that two things which work against social progress, social justice, the ability to survive global warming, and so on are two age-old human habits: self-interest and self-righteousness. Indeed, the reason humanity sucks so badly—and why it has almost destroyed its only home, and why so many have suffered (even died!) over the millennia—is that we have these traits and tendencies within us that stymie and counteract and subvert our other, higher notions such as goodwill toward man, love of one’s neighbor, caring, compassion, a reasonable type of equality and equal opportunity, etc. I try to make the case that America is being torn apart by neo-fascist, extremist conservative, nativist, white supremist, Trumpist values, and that this must be reversed if we wish to avoid another January 6th, another Civil War, or a complete inability to counter global threats such as China and Russia.

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America: Land of …. What Exactly?

lost in America October 21st, 2022

This blog is a social critique of America, and makes the point that the United States has had some endemic problems written right into the Constitution, and in regard to the racist, genocidal, patriarchal, and overly-capitalistic values that were there right from the get-go. By many measures, things have gone downhill since…

I am using the late, great lyricist Neil Peart’s song “Beneath, Between and Behind”, which he wrote in 1974, to make my points about America. He hit the nail squarely on the head, and hard. I love this song, and I hope you will take an interest in what it has to teach us.

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I Think About the Spotted Northern Owl

the northern spotted owl October 13th, 2022

A poem dedicated to the the Spotted Northern Owl, a beautiful creature that was here long before the Mayflower sunk its anchor into the seabed like a claw into flesh…

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Inquisitiveness and Lifelong Learning

a person engaged in lifelong learning October 3rd, 2022

I’m a big “lifelong learning” guy, meaning I believe that education that Americans receive in high school and college, is not only often inadequate, but misguided, and in all casesmerely the beginning of education. In general, I believe in the power and the virtue of having an interest in educating oneself, in being inquisitive, and in looking for the truth (vs. what feels good or fits with one’s ideology).
This is a blog in favor of lifelong learning, curiosity, intellectualism, and education. It’s important for the mind; it’s helpful for the brain; it’s desperately needed for societal improvement!

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Are Americans Virtuous, or the Opposite?

virtuous September 30th, 2022

I wish to ask a question about whether we Americans are virtuous—or, alternatively, vice-ridden, lazy, selfish, evil, immoral, and culpable. The curiosity was brought about by my watching a Firing Line with Margaret Hoover last night. In light of the interview Hoover conducted with Sara Botstein and Ken Burns, the co-directors of the recently-completed documentary film America and the Holocaust, I really do wonder about my country and my fellow citizens

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Aristotle’s View of Humanity’s Highest Aspirations

humanity's highest aspirations September 29th, 2022

Aristotle is the grandfather of ethics and human flourishing; his book The Nicomachean Ethics has been a classic read in philosophy and ethics courses at universities since about 340 B.C.E. He studied with Plato and is largely credited with inventing logic and natural science. In this blog, I will share a brief outline of Aristotle’s first section entitled “The Human Good”, including a few quotations about humanity’s highest virtues.

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Do Humans Deserve Climate Catastrophe?

climate catastrophe September 13th, 2022

Does America deserve to survive and thrive on into the future? We are facing a veritable climate catastrophe, yet our sense of alarm is about “3” on a scale of 1-10. Does that mean we deserve (morally) to suffer whatever fate the gods have in store for us, if you will? I am talking here about responsibility, wisdom, and proactivity. Bottom line: there really is no excuse; we are out of time; it’s a climate catastrophe that should trump Trump, cultural disputes, and the status quo.

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Ignorance is Often Not Bliss

ignorance September 9th, 2022

There is a saying that passes as folk wisdom: ignorance is bliss. That is, if a person ignores information, facts, and wisdom (and remember that ignore comes from the same root word as ignorance, of course), or is otherwise benighted, misinformed, mentally lazy, or superstitious or biased to an adequate degree, then they will be happier, so it is claimed. Not so! I consider it dangerous, not a route to happiness. What follows are some thoughts I have about what a state of stupidity we humans seem to consistently find ourselves in. It’s a species-wide flaw!

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“Strange Fruit” Had a Massive Impact on Society

Strange Fruit August 17th, 2022

America has maximized human and societal potential in many ways – we are truly a republic of great potential and productivity. Of course, being black, Holliday experienced an appalling side of America first-hand, one grossly shy of the beautiful principles on which it was founded. We are the best and the worst of everything in humanity. It is fair, recognizing slavery and poverty and vicious wealth inequality since ideals such as liberty, inclusion, democracy, and opportunity are unambiguously glorious values and aspirations we do treasure here. We must be truthful and integrate all our past and reconcile our darkness with our light. Anyway, Billie Holliday represented something special to many people, and I think the story of her song “Strange Fruit” is quite relevant to the idea of integration – both on a personal level, and certainly on a societal one.

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