America

America


Patriotism: Liberal & Conservative Viewpoints

patriotism April 1st, 2019

Colin Kaepernick has done what many an African American has done in America’s long and tumultuous and somewhat ignominious history: made us all look at the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and Bill of Rights, and centuries of legal precedence in a new light. He has an outstanding foil in the vacuous President of the United States, I am ashamed to say. Both representatives of polar-opposite points of view tout patriotism – though of a very different stripe. It’s an interesting, critical, and telling public debate that I suggest we all weigh in on. At best, we can progress toward higher levels of legal, societal, and emotional development if we accept America’s liabilities and mistakes and move forward with dignity and grace.

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Wisdom Is Ever-Ready to Guide Us From Here

Wisdom is ever-ready to guide us September 5th, 2018

For the moment, envision the high values and virtues – wisdom, truth, justice, beauty, passion, love, honor, strength, courage, etc. – as upon high; imagine they are personified, represented by gods and goddesses. Athena of course would symbolize wisdom; courage might be Apollo; Woden is strength, and so on. This idea was exemplified to great effect by Ancius Boethius. What he was thinking popped into my head when I looked at a picture of the anti-Christ, Donald Trump. Let me tell you about philosophy and Boethius. In his  The Consolation of Philosophy he spoke reverently of the word, and use the pronoun she to refer to wisdom and philosophy. He believed she watched over him, guided him, and could save him from his fate as a prisoner. I have hope that Wisdom is ever-ready to guide us from here to where we as individuals, communities and especially as a nation, we need to be.

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Are the American People Stupid? Sort Of.

Are the American people stupid? August 22nd, 2018

You watch the news on almost any given night and, even subtracting something for sensationalism and the 24-hour news cycle, it seems plain that my countrymen (and women) are really pretty suspect. The question, Are the American people stupid? is not an inappropriate one by any means. In this blog I will entertain the question and try to be fair but honest.

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Social Criticism and Unvarnished Truth

social criticism June 17th, 2018

I sometimes get a bit of pushback or disapproval from a friend who finds me to be too critical, perfectionistic, negative, and judgmental about politics, economics, and America in general. He tells me to relax, and de-focus, because a) life sucks when you are in a dark place, and b) America is and always has been mostly good. In other words, he is saying that yes, we have our problems here, but why dwell on those; there are so many positive and just and progressive and hopeful things about this country that could just as easily be considered. That’s fair enough, as far as it goes. This blog is about social criticism and the spirit of American political liberalism/progressivism. From the Vietnam War era “love it or leave it!” to culture warrior Ann Coulter’s belief that liberals are cowardly foolish traitors to America, the question is whether America is above reproach, or rightfully deserves a cold, hard look (as always, for the purposes of making this country better). My belief is not simply that “We are the best country in the world!” but rather We have more potential than any nation in history, so why are we so unimpressively selfish, ignorant, reckless, warlike, materialistic, distractible, misled, and tribal?

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How to Find Happiness in Modern America

happiness March 9th, 2018

Attitude is everything, so they say. There is truly something to that. According to one strain of research, our happiness is about 50% “determined” by our genes. There is little we can do to stray very far from our “set point” level of happiness. A death will bring us very low, and that “new car smell” will give us a happiness bump for days, perhaps weeks. A promotion will engender some greater satisfaction, but it’s effect, too, will fade (perhaps only leaving a somewhat larger paycheck and potentially greater stress associated with increased or different responsibilities). The point is, If genes account for 50% of one’s level of happiness, what does that leave us with? This is a blog about psychological research, applied philosophy, and values and virtues such as personal growth, free will, and responsibility.

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Liberals Are the Heart of the American Republic

liberalism February 25th, 2018

Liberals are the heart of the American republic. At least in my opinion. I think evidence can be found for why the spirit of liberalism in its classical sense imbued the Declaration of Independence and Constitution with something that was missing from hereditary aristocracies of Europe. As well, much or all of the social progress that has occurred since the country’s inception has been due to the liberal impulse to improve conditions, make everyone more truly equal before the law, and rein in the abuses of government and corporations to improve the lives of people. It’s people-power, really. Yes, Democrats have sullied the sterling image of true liberalism, but progressive causes have never been about one political party (evidenced by the massive movement undergirding the Bernie Sanders phenomenon in recent years). One of clearest examples of why we’re liberals was penned by author Eric Alterman, Ph.D. in a book that is, not coincidentally, entitled Why We’re Liberals. In this blog I share a bit of background about liberalism, progressivism, and the like, and use a hundred or so Eric Alterman quotes to illustrate what I think is best about the book and, therefore, most consistent with the wonderful philosophical, political, and economic phenomenon called liberalism. Enjoy. And buy the book.

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American History Reflects Certain Values

American February 13th, 2018

I came across a quote that really moved me, and I was getting into it with a friend about whether liberals are biased and whether conservatism is just a bit odious. I want to “sketch out” why I am a liberal (a political designation, but also the more philosophical meaning of the term), and why, therefore, I criticize America. To that end, I will use quotations, not by crafting sentences and paragraphs. I think of it like a mosaic – every piece is made of a small piece of glass, but together it makes sense to the eye. It’s going to read like social criticism mixed with a clear-eyed recognition of some American strengths. In so doing, I will look to history’s intellectuals, artists, and fighters for social justice to do the talking for me.

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Quotes About Politics, Govt. & Citizenship

quotes about politics April 15th, 2017

Quotes about politics are a great way to learn more about the subject. Instead of a thick book or a dense paragraph surrounded by more dense paragraphs, a sentence or two that have been vetted as really communicating something worthy and informative about the subject is often a great way to learn. In this blog, you will find many diverse, interesting, and insightful quotes about politics, government, citizenship, morality, responsibility, and civics. Put on your critical thinking cap and go to work! 

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