Altruism is one of the most intriguing virtues. I have always found it to be “upon high,” very worthy, truly excellent. It has been called “selfishness in reverse,” and is basically when a person is helpful to another when “no benefits are expected or offered in return.” It sometimes involves self-sacrifice (for example, if you give money to someone, you don’t have that money any longer, or if you run into a burning building, you may be injured). It’s human beings helping human beings, and choosing to allocate valuable resources in such a way that one does not expect to keep a lion’s share of it. Is it real? How does is mesh with capitalism and the “rugged individualism” that the wealthy and powerful have fomented in this country since the very beginning? Is love really the answer?Read More
September 1st, 2021
July 9th, 2020
What do we think when we pass a homeless person begging for money? Do you judge and ignore, or does their situation sink in as you are on your way to a meeting or a museum?
How do we feel when a person of another race is a victim of a hate crime, or killed by a police officer for unjustifiable reasons – and does it sink in if you’re white?
What is the meaning of a woman being discriminated against trying to get a job, or raped as she serves in the military, and does it sink in if you’re a man?
Empathy is one of humanity’s highest aspirations. Truly, it is the fount of kinship; it is the better part of our mottled souls; it is the mother of kindness; it is the foundry of care; it is the wellspring of goodness; it is the origin of forgiveness.Read More
March 29th, 2020
I took a much-needed break from the media, politicians, and the disease COVID-19 last week. It felt pretty good! Perhaps because I’m lucky, because I chose not to have children, because I work from home, and because of the house my wife and I occupy, I can pull off “unplugging” from the Internet, phone, and cable news (mostly) for four or five straight days. I told my wife, “If we get a shelter-in-place order, hopefully you find out, because I won’t!” I was listening to the radio, watching movies and inane TV, reading, going to the gym (when it was still open), volunteering for Meals on Wheels, and so on. Gone was the “the sky is falling!” feeling that results from watching my wealth manager, whom I pay 1% of my stock assets to every year, having chose stocks that lost 30% in value in twenty days, hearing Donald Trump speak, and thinking of what the virus is doing to Italy and Spain. Now that I’m back, I feel like I’m back up on the cross, not only enduring raw facts about the disease, but all manner of bullshit from the land that invented steel-cage wrestling matches, Cheese-Puffs, and The Apprentice. Here are ten examples on my mind today:Read More
June 2nd, 2019
My wife and I donated five thousand dollars to a local no-cost medical clinic, the Barrier Islands Free Medical Clinic. My visit was amazing. It’s a new building, and is at least as nice as my doctor’s. Probably nicer. It was built recently with 100% donations and grants! For an individual making up to about $25,000 a year or a family of four earning around $50,000 annually, primary care and many other specialties are free. Free. It felt like a wonderful asset to our community, which sits in one of the poorest states in the country. Many folks, however, believe that anything “free” is not only a waste of resources, but morally offensive. That is the cult of the individual, and it runs afoul of an important belief underlying progressive politics and moral decency: the responsibility we have for our fellow man (and woman).Read More
July 15th, 2018
Shea Tuttle is a freelance writer who believes that the host of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood taught kids critical emotional and social skills that are still relevant to adults today. I agree that the show focused on the good, tolerant, and wholesome, and is sorely missed in this political climate. Tuttle writes: “It seems we sense that Mister Rogers, whom we used to know so well, who used to seem to know us so well, may have something to say to us in our divided, contentious, often-painful cultural and political climate. [This blog features seven] of Mister Rogers’ teachings that could “help us weather today’s ups and downs, stand up for what we believe in, and come together across our differences,” as Tuttle puts it.Read More
July 5th, 2018
Values is a neutral term; one could value relaxation, competition, humor, sexual conquest, helping others, or swindling them successfully (subterfuge and personal gain). It means what it sounds like it means – a value is something which a person holds in high regard, pursues, and even loves. Values tend to include hallmark ones such as truth, justice, humility, goodness, and kindness. In this blog, I explore the idea of moral values, asking what the term means, which values probably qualify as moral values, and how one implements them in one’s life.Read More
March 18th, 2018
Does your life matter? Does mine? Do they matter to other people? Do they matter in the larger scheme of things? Significance may be the ultimate issue, and an important yardstick of successful living. Our feelings of self-worth are intimately tied to our sense of significance. What gives the strongest boost to our feelings of self-worth? Isn’t it the knowledge that we are making a meaningful contribution to the world around us? That we are helping others? That we are doing things which somehow matter?Read More
August 24th, 2017
The qualities and aspirations and virtues of wise and developed individuals are rarities, indeed. Here is a glimpse:
Sharp like the metaphoric steel blade
Possessing uncommon passion and zeal
Power to act on behalf of right
Courage to feel what’s authentic and real.
May 26th, 2017
Kindness quotes are important because they urge us to remember what really matters, show concern for others besides just ourselves, and stay focused on “the right thing to do.” Here is an article about why being nice is important, and below are some of the best inspirational kindness quotes I have found over the years. Keep them in mind – and in your heart. Whether you are religious or not, be good to others. You won’t regret it. “I expect to pass through this world but once. Any good, therefore, that I can do or any kindness I can show to any fellow creature, let me do it now. Let me not defer or neglect it for I shall not pass this way again” (attributed to Steven Grellet, though possibly a Quaker proverb).Read More
May 5th, 2017
Albert Einstein not only has one of the most recognizable mugs of any person alive or dead, he worked extremely hard and intelligently throughout his long life. A genius in physics, he also was a committed peace activist and socialist. Almost everyone remembers him fondly, and though that is perhaps a bit unwarranted, in general he was an affable, productive, dedicated, ingenious, creative, kind, magnanimous individual. He was also very quotable! Many of his quotes were about values.Read More