When did the medical community decide it was imperative to our health that daytime TV was required to dominate every doctor’s and hospital’s waiting room? As we of the Repair and Maintenance Age (RMA) so often do, I recently found myself stuck for more than an hour while waiting for a relative who was having a “procedure.”
I’d brought work to do and a novel to read in case I felt lazy. As someone who writes at home, part of my attempts at discipline mean never turning on the TV before 6:00 pm. So I have little exposure to the daytime “celebrities” who float across the waiting room screens. Keep reading »
This is the first of occasional blogs commenting on various aspects of our culture. I’m calling them: “Earth Musings”
MEAN MADISON AVENUE
Why we need a Global Kindness Revolution
Perhaps the young geniuses on Madison Avenue are products of the violent video generation. The tone of recent television ads makes me wonder—are they selling products or promoting meanness and an even greater lack of civility than already exists? Here are several examples:
Capitol One credit card ads star Vikings whose violence and roughness would never make me want to sign up for anything they’re selling. Swinging guillotines? Pouring hot tar over people? I don’t think so. Does this reflect the caveman mentality that permeates our male culture, exemplified by the recent effort of some politicians to take women back to the fifties and earlier?
Then there’s the ad for the Infiniti automaker where a guy in a white car with a smirk on his face makes a giant snowball that sweeps his neighbor’s blue car away in its downhill tumble. The perpetrator congratulates himself and pulls into the now vacant parking space. This is supposed to make me want to buy an Infiniti?
It reminds me of recent Volkswagen ads – whenever someone saw a VW, they yelled “punch buggy” and struck another person in the arm – usually quite painfully. How does this meanness sell cars? Keep reading »
Sagewriters’ Music Director is in Spirit
Byard Lancaster, a Warrior with a Horn
August 6, 1942 – August 23, 2012
Sagewriters is sad at the passing of our dedicated Music Director and Jazz legend, Byard Lancaster.
Byard’s dedication to our work, his commitment to encouraging young musicians and writers – especially those “at risk” – and his ability to connect people around the world, leaves a hole that can never be filled.
A talent recognized globally, Byard entertained from Philly to Chicago to Jamaica to Paris, Mexico, Brazil, Nigeria, Guinea Montreal, and anywhere that jazz was performed.
A master musician with saxophone, flute and sixteen other instruments, Byard amazed us all when he performed at a Sagewriters’ fund raising art exhibit in 2009. He played three wind instruments at one time! His workshops inspired many of today’s prominent musicians, and his gentle but determined spirit led the fight for musicians to be able to perform on Philadelphia’s streets.
As Pennsylvania’s Jazz Ambassador, Byard was featured in our documentary, Healing Justice: a journey into Shadow America, where he said, “Why can’t we all get along? We have the tools.”
A while back, spending several months near Paris, Byard was working on a jazz opera. He also published several books for musicians.
We are proud that this unique human being graced us with his support and connection to others, helping spread the work of Sagewriters locally and globally, and we will always miss him and keep his spirit in our hearts.
Judith Trustone, Director, Sagewriters and the Global Kindness Revolution
Darwinism is more often associated with the liberal left than the conservative right, but it’s moved a long way across the political spectrum from Darwin’s day, when it was embraced by advocates of free-market economics, colonialism, and similar ideas today associated with the right.
Apparently, Darwinism is still sometimes invoked in arguments for economic conservatism. It’s reflected in a recent e-mail I received from a reader: “Maybe you should write about the current reversing of evolution by humans, using technology. . . . Fitness, in humans, means the intelligence and ability to deliver a healthy child. . . . Today, especially in the USA, the least fit make the most offspring while the more fit have the least children. The most fit pay to insure the survival and future breeding of the least fit.”
Let’s leave aside the part connecting fitness and intelligence for another column, since the term fitness has a very specific meaning in evolution apart from what people try to achieve in the gym. Instead, I’ll focus on the idea that helping people interferes with evolution.
I find this letter so intriguing because it reflects the reaction some people had to Darwin’s publication of On The Origin of Species in 1859.
According to University of Massachusetts historian Diane Paul, people of Darwin’s time realized that evolution was an ongoing process and that our policies and medical advances would influence its direction.
Some preached that charity and social services impeded evolution – a position that came to be called social Darwinism.
Many Christians of the time opposed that attitude, believing mankind should help the poor and the sick.
Paul said Darwin’s writing reflected mixed reactions to the ideas that would later be called social Darwinism. He did, however, hit on an important argument against it in his second book, The Descent of Man: Sympathetic instincts that lead us to aid the helpless are themselves products of natural selection.
That idea has stood the test of time.
“Evolution made us all the things we are by nature – it made us cooperative and selfish,” said David Sloan Wilson, an evolutionary biologist at Binghamton University. Evolution, he said, left us with the good, the bad, the beautiful, and the ugly.
To read the rest go to:
How “enemy creep” is Guantanamo-izing America.
You only had to listen to the recent hearings convened by New York Republican Congressman Peter King on radicalization and the Muslim religion to know that, if the ascending right in Washington (and elsewhere) has its way, the age of tolerance in America is over. In the name of putting political correctness in its grave, a surprisingly sizeable contingent of politicians, judges, and other influential figures are now calling for transforming draconian behavior — that once would have made Americans blanche — into the order of the day.
Blaming Political Correctness for Terrorism
King’s hearings underscored the urgency with which a growing cast of influential characters seeks to open yet wider the door to the sort of anti-democratic (and anti-constitutional) actions that have been woven into counterterrorism policy since September 11, 2001. As chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, King made it his job to acknowledge the obstacle that — as he might put it — excessive tolerance for minorities, foreigners, or other religions and cultures can pose. “To back down [from these hearings],” he insisted when criticized, “would be a craven surrender to political correctness and an abdication of what I believe to be the main responsibility of this committee — to protect America from a terrorist attack.”
It was hardly the first time in the Obama era that political correctness has been identified as a major cause of terrorism, or at least as a major roadblock to confronting terrorism. One need only think back to the November 2009 killing spree in which Major Nidal Hasan, a Muslim Army psychiatrist, fatally gunned down 13 people at Fort Hood, Texas. In an op-ed penned several days after the attack, Republican Congressman John Carter, who represents the district where Fort Hood is located, pointedly connected political correctness to the dangers posed to the country by terrorism, warning, “Political correctness is killing Americans and undermining the national security of the United States.”
To read the rest of this article go to:
The Global Kindness Revolution Part 2
Free & Open to the Public
Led by Judith Trustone of Swarthmore, Pennsylvania, Founder of Sagewriters & TrustOneKindness
Program Description— The Global Kindness Revolution is an antidote to violence and the lack of civility on both sides of prison walls. In this two-part program (the second part is on March 23) we explore the connection between spirituality, kindness, and prisons; how (and why) this touches those of us who are not in prison; and how we might open deeper places of kindness within ourselves.
Instructions—To join the live call: dial 712-432-0075. When you hear the prompt, enter access code 329574#. You’ll be announced by a chime sound. Say your name and where you are calling from, then press *6. Programs usually last about 1 hour. We record these calls and the recording is available until the next month’s Spirit Gathering. To listen afterwards at your convenience, dial 712-432-1085, access code329574#