social problems

social problems


Social Problems: Gun Control and Mass Shootings Analyzed

gun control August 12th, 2019

In this blog, I will aim to parse the gun violence issue. I thought to do so because I came across a compelling essay by Nicholas D. Kristof entitled “How to Win the Gun Control Argument.” I then went to go look it up by name in a Web search, and guess what popped up in the #2 slot? An article from the exact opposite perspective entitled “Winning the Gun Control Debate”. That is obviously enough to give one a headache. However, wisdom is the ideal guide to analyze the competing claims, complex issues, and difficult aspects of the gun control/gun violence social problem that currently plagues us. Next to the opioid epidemic, I would say that gun violence is a massive concern for American society – as it is for New Zealand, Norway, and every other country, practically. We live in difficult times, and at their worst, humans are basically clothed chimpanzees with semi-automatic rifles.

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Responsibility for Our Fellow Man

responsibility 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).

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Stress Distracts Us from Our Values

stress April 9th, 2019

I was recently watching an incisive, hour-long program on HBO called “One Nation Under Stress.” It is an investigative piece by head physician/journalist at CNN, Sanjay Gupta. The takeaway I perceived was that America is a nation under significant stress. If we were an individual lifeform, we would be said to be ailing, in great danger. I want to briefly take a look at some of the signs and symptoms, and take a glancing blow at some causes of stress, and highlight some of the costs. True to form, I will point out that this is based in part on cultural-political phenomena, primarily. Stress underlies it all. My ultimate point is that this is a shame, because some of the best that we humans can do is to keep our values “in front of us” and focus on what makes life worth living, and not get ulcers and become alcoholics as we focus on the ever-present hum of chronic stress that plagues most of us. 

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“Anti-Intellectualism”: A Rejection of Critical Thinking

anti-intellectualism December 13th, 2018

Attorney, activist, author and secular humanist David Niose writes about one of the fundamental issues underlying much of the social dysfunction we see every day now in America: anti-intellectualism. What does this mean? This snippet captures his thesis well: What Americans rarely acknowledge is that many of their social problems are rooted in the rejection of critical thinking or, conversely, the glorification of the emotional and irrational. What else could explain the hyper-patriotism that has many accepting an outlandish notion that America is far superior to the rest of the world? Love of one’s country is fine, but many Americans seem to honestly believe that their country both invented and perfected the idea of freedom, that the quality of life here far surpasses everywhere else in the world.

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Powerful Ballad About Respect, Empathy & Compassion

empathy August 23rd, 2018

You might not have heard of the musical group Everlast. In 1998 they put out a fantastic, unparalleled song “What It’s Like.” I can’t say enough good stuff about it, both lyrically and musically. It’s absolutely remarkable. It’s been listened to over 5 million times on YouTube, and it hit #13 on the charts when it debuted. In this blog, I will provide a YouTube link and share the lyrics. Watching the video while reading the lyrics will no doubt provide the reader interested in values, ethics, and virtue with inspiration and a truly deep emotional experience. I have literally teared up listening to this amazing song. The crux of the empathy the writer Erik Shrody is calling for can be clearly seen in these words: “You know where it endsusually depends on where you start.” See how the other half lives in the song “What It’s Like”…

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Mental Illness is Also a Social Problem

July 3rd, 2018

I just watched a neat program, “The Face of Evil”, hosted by a journalist I like, Chris Cuomo. In the episode, he interviewed a notorious murderer he grew up fairly close to in New York, Jeremy Rifkin. About this horiffic form of mental illness, Cuomo said, “Cases like Rifkin’s have stuck with me, leaving me to question how such a thing could occur. What makes someone who looks and acts like the rest of us most of the time, suddenly turn into a monster?” I see the positive values of love, magnanimity, optimism, and honor, but am also fascinated by how things can go so awry in a human heart and mind. When suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in a society and gun violence is on the rise, there is a significant problem. In this blog, I want to examine mental illness, focusing especially on “social disease” such as sociopathy, suicide, and mass shootings.

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A Progressive Perspective on Justice (V&E-19)

a progressive perspective on justice October 8th, 2017

The following piece is entitled “A Progressive Perspective on Justice, Liberty, and Social Problems” and constitutes chapter 19 of the book Values & Ethics: From Living Room to Boardroom (itself based on an Internet-based talk radio show of the same name I did in times past). My influential and tireless partners in dialogue are Michael Ratner J.D., and Matthew Rothschild. Mr. Ratner is the founder of the Center for Constitutional Rights, an outfit that consistently fights for the rights of the downtrodden, disappeared, and despised. Matthew Rothschild was Senior Editor of The Progressive for years.

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Progress and Social Justice in Society

suffering woman needs progress now! February 28th, 2017

Is more progress possible in modern society, and if so, how do we get from here to there? What can “the wise” teach us about our values that will bring about greater peace, justice, prosperity, equality, and happiness? What role will progressive/grass-roots politics play, versus conservative/reactionary/top-down politics? How does this all relate to economics and social policy? Let’s discuss.

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