The ramblings of an Eternal Student of Life     
. . . still studying and learning how to live
 
 
Wednesday, May 28, 2003
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Being an eternal student means being an eternal thinker. And thinking is not always a welcome thing in this world, as it leads you to question things. In fact, a lot of human endeavors in the world today are based on the idea that most of the participants should not do any thinking or questioning. Only a select few should be allowed any leeway to use their minds, and only after they’ve been successfully brainwashed not to question the basic assumptions behind the organization and its leadership. In other words, you’ve got to earn your right to do any thinking these days, and even then you only get a limited license. If you think too much about what your organization is all about and ask too many questions about why it does what it does, you get into trouble.

I used to watch some of the Star Trek spin-off shows (The Next Generation, Voyager, Deep Space 9, etc.), so I know that in the post-Kirk era, the most fearsome enemy of the Federation is no longer the Klingons or the Romulans. Instead, it is the dredded Borg. The Borg aren’t particularly slimy or hideous or anything. It’s just that they are well-organized. Too well organized. Organized to the point that no individual member of the Borg needs to think. Everything is pre-programmed. All of the necessary thinking had already been done. The only thing for any good Borg citizen to do is to unthinkingly carry out their assignments, for the greater good of the collective. And that involves conquering other planets and assuming their civilizations into the Borg, so as to end any retrogressive fascination with thinking and individualism.

Yea, that’s a lot like what many of workplaces and houses of worship are like these days. From what I’ve heard, even the colleges, the supposed bastions of critical thinking and liberal attitudes, aren’t what they used to be. The places where we come together, such as the suburban shopping malls, are now looking more and more like bee hives. There doesn’t seem to be much room left for thinking and discussion in American life these days, especially given our on-going fear of terrorism. Too bad; our worst nightmare about Middle-Eastern terrorism is that it seeks to promote a Borg-like way of existance. But to the degree that our defensive reactions convert our American way of life into something more Borg-like, then terrorism is winning, even when it seems to be losing.

◊   posted by Jim G @ 8:32 pm       No Comments Yet / Leave a Comment
 
 
Sunday, May 25, 2003
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I’m in the mood today for a rant — a short rant — about American capitalism. OK, I know just what the conservatives would say to me here: hey, buddy, American capitalism has done you pretty well. Sure, you ain’t got a mansion and a huge trust fund carefully managed by a blue-blood investment house, but you’re still much better off than 99% of the other 6 billion people on the planet. You wanna take your chances instead on making a life in Burkina Faso or Tuvalu? Then good luck.

OK, my imaginary conservative would have a point. Even the losers in America are better off than the luckiest of people in most other places. But the price of all this wealth has been a rather cruel form of capitalism where the excesses have occasionally been mitigated by governmental intervention. But over the past 20 years or so, the capitalists have been pretty successful in beating back the interventionists, e.g. by eviscerating the Environmental Protection Agency and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and by deregulating the telecommunication, banking, transportation and energy sectors. (Not that there wasn’t need for change in those regulation schemes, which were set up about 80 years ago; but a lot of babies were thrown out with the bathwater in the way that deregulation played out, and we’re starting to see the effects, e.g. Enron, the California power crisis, airline bankruptcies, etc.).

Here’s an example of the cruelty of our system, right from my own back yard in northern New Jersey. About two years ago, there was a fire during the night in a dormitory at Seton Hall University in South Orange. Several students were killed, and others were burned and otherwise injured. The fire appears to have been started on some furniture, then jumped to other furniture and room furnishings. It turns out that in Europe, the strong fire safety laws would prohibit the sale and use in public areas of flammable furniture coverings, drapery and wall covering. Manufacturers clearly know how to make fire-retardant home furnishings, and have been doing so in Europe for many years.

However, here in the land of the free, industry lobbying groups have successfully resisted adoption of such laws by Congress and most of the state legislatures. Campaign contributions go a long way in keeping American furniture cheap and thus encouraging sales and profitability. Requiring fire protection would require American furniture-makers to invest some money in anti-fire manufacturing technology, or risk losing sales to the European manufactures who already make fire-retardant furniture. That would obviously diminish their profitability for a year or two. (PRACTICAL TIP: Ikea sells furniture that meets California and European fire standards; not surprisingly, Ikea is a European franchise).

I’m not saying that socialism is a better way, but we need to swing the pendulum back towards governmental protection of people. The capitalists made a lot of money in the 90’s, and will now get some icing on their cakes in the form of the new Bush tax cuts. Hopefully, they are sated now. It’s time for America to start giving something back to the other 99%.

◊   posted by Jim G @ 11:13 am       No Comments Yet / Leave a Comment
 
 
Tuesday, May 20, 2003
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LOCAL POLITICS: Many, many years ago, when I was young and naive, I used to think that politics could be a way of doing good for the world. Sure, I always knew that there were plenty of schmucks in politics who betrayed the public’s trust, but I still believed that a well-intentioned person could get involved and get elected and use their power to make things better for everyone.

Yeah, well. Maybe there are some people like that somewhere. But for now, I can’t really think of any. Some politicians are in it for the money, but I think that most are in it for the ego. And actually, many if not most of the ego-driven politicians give the public a good return on investment, relative to the power and trust placed in their hands. Something about the idea of being important and powerful and in the limelight all the time makes such politicians willing to devote themselves to public leadership on a twenty-four / seven basis. Their deepest inspiration is clearly not to better the lot of humankind; but in return for the ego satisfaction that they crave like heroin addicts, many of them actually do more good than damage (even though that’s not their main goal). That’s about the best you can expect.

Still, even if the best of the men and women called to elected office eventually settle into an ego groove (and avoid going the federal indictment route on corruption charges), sometimes their earliest motivations do include commendable ideals such as human progress and applied intelligence. Eventually, if successful, they will settle into the demagogue mode; seeing your name in the paper just about every day and your face on television will eventually convince you that you are no longer a mere mortal. But if they start out in the idealistic mode, you can at least hope that they will be no worse than the average politico once they make it to city hall or the legislature or the governor’s mansion or even Washington, DC.

I’ve either worked or gone to school in Newark, NJ for about two-thirds of my adult life, and even though I’m a suburbanite and can’t vote in a Newark election, I’ve been keenly aware of the crazy world of urban politics. As you might know, Newark’s mayor since 1986 has been Sharpe James, a former gym teacher who got elected to city council and then went for the brass ring. A lot has happened to Newark in Sharpe’s time, much of it quite good. After the urban upheavals of the late 60s and early 70s, Newark was in pretty sad shape. Decades of infrastructure decay caused by de-industrialization and suburban flight were accentuated by riots, lootings, fires and crime. I started college in Newark in 1971, and you could see the grimness in every direction.

Today, Newark still has a lot of problems and needs. There are still too many streets where you need to fear for your life, especially if you encounter a youth gang like the Netas or Latin Kings. Unfortunately, gang membership and gang-related violent crime in Newark are still on the rise. But there are more and more areas in Newark where things have stabilized and are looking better. There is a lot of new housing construction, and more of it is financed by private developers and aimed at middle-income families (whereby, for many years, the only new housing in Newark was constructed through government subsidy for low-income groups). The downtown area has many new office buildings, a minor-league baseball stadium, and a major-league arts center. And the universities continue to expand their campuses based upon new research ventures and partnerships.

Still, Newark impresses you as a place that could go either way in the coming years. The goods and the bads seem to be racing neck and neck, and it isn’t at all clear which side is going to win. Mayor Sharpe James has been an incredible cheerleader for the city, but integrity is not his middle name. Even if the feds haven’t been able to pin anything on him yet despite various investigations, he is still known as a Stalin-like leader, and is reportedly getting worse with each re-election (he just started his fifth term last year). You really get the feeling that Newark needs a fresh prince to step into City Hall and help it to win the race against the forces of decay that continue to eat away at the neighborhoods.

Last year, a lot of non-Newarkers thought that Newark’s savior had finally arrived, in the figure of Cory Booker. Cory is a young black man who grew up in the higher-income suburbs, got a first-rate education, and decided to adopt Newark as his life project. He moved into town and got elected to the City Council back in 98. Probably on the night of his election, he was planning out his 2002 campaign against Mayor James. Over the next four years, he used his suburban connections very well, raising lots of money by pitching himself to concerned outsiders (like myself) as the guy who could pull Newark from the sewers of corruption and bring it forth into a new era of viability and livability.

Well, even if Cory would have won by a landslide in 2002 if suburban Newark symphatizers were polled, unfortunately the majority of voters in Newark weren’t quite in agreement. Sharpe James’s motto, “The Real Deal”, made more sense to them. Things in Newark were far from perfect, but James did deliver a lot of jobs, housing and economic activity. Cory, with his promises of honest and open government, didn’t quite win the day. Too many people in Newark still need housing and jobs, or are worried about keeping what they’ve gained within the past few years, to worry about good government. So, Cory has gone back to “candidate in waiting” status, making occasional public appearances and keeping his suburban supporters interested (he recently made a speech at a synagogue in a suburban town, and was criticized by Newarkers for continually presenting stories about needy people in impoverished neighborhoods; to city folk, it tastes a bit like patronization).

I myself didn’t get on the “Cory train”, even though I very much want to see Newark make a full recovery and offer a good life to all of its people. I too share Cory’s concern for the children of Newark, many of whom have been disqualified for participation in the 21st Century economy. But for some reason, Cory never got me excited, even though I know that many of my fellow suburbanites are. There are a lot of people in Newark who live on or near the edge, and such people don’t always trust outsiders, even the best-intentioned outsiders. I think that Cory would (and will) make a “good” politician, even in his later years once ego takes over. But I’m not sure that Newark is the place where he is going to do that.

Before I drop the subject of Newark politics, I’m going to drop the name of someone that I’ve got my eye on, someone who may in fact yet fulfill the Cory promise. He’s young, maybe not much past 30 yet. He grew up in Newark, the son of a prominent politician. He ran for city council in the 2002 election and lost — but hey, that was his first time out. I’ve yet to see him in person, but some people who have told me good things about him. His name is Ronald Rice Junior.

I keep up with what Mr. Rice writes on the Newark forum on www.nj.com. Most of the town forums on that site are extremely sleepy, real Mayberrys, but the Newark forum is a rough-and-tumble virtual town meeting, much like the real thing in Newark, with plenty of invective and race baiting and hits below the belt. But Ron Rice Junior seems to be the voice of reason, the guy who says the right things at the right time, the guy who strikes the balance. He appears to have intelligence, idealism, and a deep-seated feel for urban politics. He presents himself as part of the Cory revolution. He holds himself apart from his father, State Senator and former councilman Ronald Rice Sr.; given the old-fashioned politics and Sharpe James alliances that his father has engaged in, that’s not a bad idea. But I have seen his father in action, and despite the exaggerations and unsavory anti-white innuendos that I’ve heard him make, I will say one thing for him: what you see is what you get. No dark and dirty secrets, as with Sharpe James. I’d like to think that Ron Rice Junior is the same. So far, so good. If you are interested in the future of politics in Newark, and need some hope, I’d suggest that you remember that name.

◊   posted by Jim G @ 9:29 pm       No Comments Yet / Leave a Comment
 
 
Saturday, May 17, 2003
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Well, as many of the 30% of Americans who didn’t quite agree with Mr. Bush’s decision to invade Iraq expected, we won the war but are quickly losing the peace. Check out any of the major media web sites and you’ll see various articles about the anarchy now prevailing in much of Iraq, one month after our victory. Admittedly, Saddam Hussein was a major bad guy. However, a lot of Iraqis are reportedly wondering if they were better off when he was in power — at least there was a system, bad as it was. Now there ain’t any system, ain’t any police, ain’t any electric power, ain’t any jobs to go to over there, and the Bush administration seems to be tiring already of the thankless and expensive task of restoring order and rebuilding Iraq. (And as to restoring democracy, well — any attempt to hold elections before the economy is resuscitated would just be a joke).

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld had this to say about the situation in Iraq: “Freedom is untidy. Free people are free to make mistakes and commit crimes and do bad things.” I work in a county prosecutor’s office, and I can’t help but wonder if the criminal defense lawyers are tempted to use that line the next time they defend a gang member up on homicide charges for killing a grocery store owner. I mean, one of the most powerful men in our government just said that we are free to commit crimes and do bad things, didn’t he? So, if we’re gonna go light on Iraqi revenge killers, why not go light on American gang members too?

Or instead, why not celebrate the fact that unlike the Iraqis, we do have order, infrastructure, a functioning economy, and a working democracy? And what better way to celebrate law and democracy than to vote out the jokers who would say such things, in the Presidential election next fall.

◊   posted by Jim G @ 10:04 pm       No Comments Yet / Leave a Comment
 
 
Thursday, May 15, 2003
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There’s an article in the January, 2003 Atlantic Magazine by Caitlin Flanagan about the lack of sex in many marriages today. Ms. Flanagan explains that most married women from the suburbs pursue full-time careers these days, but they still want to see their children brought up according to deeply engrained maternal insticts and domestic standards passed down from their ancestors. However, given the time demands on today’s two-earner family, husbands must share in most of the child-rearing and home-making tasks. And according to Ms. Flanagan, men generally do not carry out their domestic duties with Martha Stewart-like aplomb and a devotion to detail. Men, whether in or out of the home, tend to strictly define their tasks and carry them out to the letter; no less but no more. Women, despite our modern theories of feminist equality, still feel the need to properly feather the nest and raise the hatchlings. Thus, the woman’s urge is frustrated by the male’s no-nonsense approach to domestic tasks like feeding the kids and getting them ready for bed. Thus, a lot of women exact a sub-conscious (or not-so-sub-conscious) revenge by shutting down their desire for physical intimacy.

Wow. Marriage sounds pretty grim these days. Perhaps it’s just as well that my one attempt at domestic bliss with a career woman blew up just after launch (right around the time of the Challenger disaster, incidently). My generation was called on as the shock troops for a social revolution, a shock that won’t work itself out for several generations. Hopefully, women will learn to accept over time what they can and can’t expect from their “helpmates”, and men will be raised to do a bit better with house cleaning and such (I admittedly don’t feel any urge to alphabetize spices and wipe down lazy-susans, as Ms. Flannigan would like to see from her husband). Until then — well, it’s going to continue to be a good time for divorce lawyers.

◊   posted by Jim G @ 7:46 pm       No Comments Yet / Leave a Comment
 
 
Sunday, May 11, 2003
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First off, Happy Mom’s Day to all of you madres out there.

OK, so us liberal twirps got a nice chuckle the other day over William Bennett and his big-time gambling habit. The man who said that no vice is victimless is now saying that his own vice is, in fact, victimless. The man deserves be handed over to the satirists and mercilessly whipped with lashes of raw humor. A good example of what I’m talking about is the treatment that Allan Bloom, the celebrated social conservative from the 1980s, got from Frank Gannon (who, as I said before, is my favorite underrated American humorist). In Gannon’s second book, Vanna Karenina, there’s a chapter entitled “The Trial of Allan Bloom”. Gannon envisioned Bloom being brought before a tribunal of judgmental teenagers (is there any other kind of teenager?). I won’t describe the whole thing, but it’s an excellent read. Here’s the opening paragraph:

“So we finally got him out there. We had to cancel sixth period, but that was nothing because for most people, it was gym. So we get him out there, and we start talking to him, and he is just the biggest wienie in the world. Jason asks him ‘what happened with your hair?’ and everybody just cracked up.”

Yep, that’s the punishment that William Bennett deserves.

Speaking of liberals and conservatives, I was thinking the other day about why law-and-order conservatives get so upset about what liberal twirps say, e.g. in questioning the wisdom of President Bush’s decision to invade Iraq. After pondering this a bit, it occured to me that it has a lot to do with body types and a person’s sense of mission in life.

As a general trend, it occurs to me that liberals and anti-war people are usually not muscular people. Yea, I’m sure you can think of exceptions to that rule, but I’d bet that if you were to line up 10 liberals, 7 of them would be scrawny or otherwise out-of-shape (FYI, I weigh 130 lbs – not exactly an Arnold Schwarzenegger or Dolph Lungren). By contrast, conservatives are often robust, big-boned people, folks who like to get physical. (Again, there are exceptions like George Will, but they seem to prove the rule; Mr. Will is a big-time muscular wanna-be, the kind of guy who knows that he can’t impress the big guys with his pecs, so he tries to make them like him by saying brainy things that defend their way of life). I work in law enforcement, and I’m surrounded by robust, physical people who, in fact, are generally quite conservative. I’ve seen these people get very upset with liberal challenges to their ways of living. And I think I now understand it a little bit better.

People with muscles are like anyone else, in that they want to feel that their lives have some underlying meaning and purpose to them, something more than day-to-day survival. Yea, deep down inside, even the biggest lunk-heads have a sensitive spot about who they are and why they’re here. They often go into the armed forces or into law enforcement because that’s a good way for them to gain a strong sense of self-worth. They are using what they were given, i.e. their muscles and aggressiveness and robust bodies, to help maintain order, to defend society from the bad guys. In their own way, they are just as selfless and socially engaged as Mother Theresa and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. were.

The problem is, because these people are contributing to the greater good more with muscle and loyalty than with critical reflection, they need to put their faith in the goodness of the social institutions that hire them. If the U.S. Government or the local police department is not good, then they are not good. So, when the scrawny liberals come along and start pointing out the imperfections in their modulus operandi after critically reflecting on the U.S. Government or local police department, the big-boned (or wanna-be big-boned) conservatives can’t help but take it personally. This happens even when the criticism wasn’t intended as an insult by the liberals, but as a call to see the imperfections in society and try to make them better.

The liberals, despite their intellectual capacities, often don’t see this. Thus, the motto “support our troops” is a rather brilliant pitch by conservatives to force liberals to acknowledge that muscular people out in hostile places with with M-16 rifles and missle-launched grenades have just as heavenly a personal inspiration as the bearded liberal ministers and old nuns and Quakers marching for peace in front of the Pentagon.

Yea, if both sides could accept the fact that we all want to do good (and that we all do bad too, because of our inherent imperfections), maybe we could all communicate better. That would at least be a step in the right direction.

◊   posted by Jim G @ 10:45 am       No Comments Yet / Leave a Comment
 
 
Tuesday, May 6, 2003
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I was born a Roman Catholic, but back in the 80s and 90s I did some time with the Episcopalians. Yea, I was “received” by one of their bishops, so I was official. I paid my dues to them for many years. But after a decade or so it got old. So me and the Episcopal Church have gone our ways (and as to me and the Roman Catholic church — well, as they say, you can’t go home again; “home” ain’t where the heart is any more).

Actually, I shouldn’t say anything bad about the Anglicans. Most of them are nice people. Some of them are honestly spiritual people. Some Episcopals call their church “the thinking person’s religion”. There are indeed a lot of thinking people within the Episcopal Church. Unlike the Roman Catholic institution, there’s a lot of thinking and debate going on amidst concerned Episcopalians — debate about the role of minorities, the place of gays, the rights of women, and the obligations of the “unjustly privileged class” (read well-off white males).

The Episcopal Church today is kind of a schizoid experience. Some parishes are bastions of Anglo-Saxonism; just as the Greek Orthodox Church has a lot of Greek people in it, the Episcopal Church is still a haven for the English. But there are a lot of Episcopal parishes these days where the majority hail not from Britannia (although even then, you still have a handful of blue-bloods who think they represent the parish’s center of gravity). In those places, you are more likely to encounter ethnic minorities like Hispanics and blacks, and psychological minorities such as gays, radical feminists, and people like me, who for other reasons just haven’t found their spiritual homes yet.

The ethnic minorities pretty much take care of themselves. Once they form a critical mass, they bond into a self-supportive community and introduce singing and liturgical styles more familiar to themselves (which are often a lot more lively and inspiring than the usual Episcopal services). But the psychological minorities are usually a rather needy bunch. And today, more and more of the Anglican church’s ministers are being selected from these psychological minorities. In a way this is good; it’s a sign of the church’s openness. But I was rather troubled by the behavioral limitations and weaknesses of the leaders and priests who hailed from these groups. These people often ministered not from their strengths but from their weaknesses, and I often felt that my own weaknesses and spiritual needs could not be served by them. It was like drowning and trying to be rescued by a rowboat that’s so full of water it rides only a half inch above the surface. In some places, the Episcopal church is quite dysfunctional; in other places, quite boring. Take your pick.

The Episcopals are a rather contentious bunch. Their convocations are known for invective and dissention. Some people wonder if the whole thing is going to split up along the liberal / conservative fault line, or between the evangelistic and Anglo-catholic liturgists. But I don’t think it will. There is something that unites all Episcopalians, including the activist gays, the genteel bluebloods, the southern Biblical fundamentalists, the northern anti-war liberals, the Anglo-catholics, the radical feminists, the urban black communities, etc. Even though none of them will admit it to you, I know what the common thread is: the love of old buildings.

To be an Episcopalian, you’ve got to love classy old stone church buildings. They’ve got them by the bucketful, all over the nation, in the pine belt of Texas and in downtown Boston. Sure, there are some modern Episcopal churches, and yes, there are some simple little white-washed wood frame chapels. But for the most part, an Episcopal church is old and is made of big dark brown stone blocks with red-painted wooden doors and stained glass windows and a high, rafter-beamed ceiling. Give it to the English, they didn’t build junk.

So, if you want to join the Episcopal faith, you’d better be ready to devote yourself to the preservation of an old building. Because that’s where the heart and soul of that church is sited. I’ll be the first to admit, those old Episcopal churches are landmarks and deserve to be preserved. And perhaps it is a wonderful ministry to breath communal life and spiritual fire into a grand old edifice (hats off here to the Rev. Tracey Lind of Cleveland, who I knew back at St. Pauls in Paterson; despite being from the psychological minority, Tracey does a good job of breathing life into old churches; and a similar tribute should be afforded to Newark Diocese lay activist Louie Crew). But for me, I don’t know. I would sit inside those high-ceilinged, dimly lit old monuments and wonder, is this really the way to Yahweh / Allah / the Great Spirit ? For some people, indeed it is. If so for you, then maybe you’ll find a home in the Episcopal Church. But for me, I had to get back on the road.

◊   posted by Jim G @ 7:42 pm       No Comments Yet / Leave a Comment
 
 
Sunday, May 4, 2003
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AN OUNCE OF PREVENTION: There is now a field of study in the medical world called “chemoprevention”. The National Institute of Health and various universities are finally putting some money into exploring the effects of specific foods and nutrients, e.g. selenium and green tea and retinol, on cancer and other chronic conditions. In fact, there was an article in today’s New York Times about “nutritional genomics”, the idea that because each person has a different genetic make-up, there is a diet specific to his or her body chemistry that will optimize their health and well being. More and more evidence is piling up that the body does a wonderful job of staying healthy when it runs on the right fuel, and gets messed up over time when the wrong stuff is being fed to it. Perhaps someday, we will be able to go see a chemoprevention geneticist to develop diets specific to our genetic vulnerabilities, say if colon cancer or diabetes or heart disease run in our families, and to our body’s specific metabolic strengths and weaknesses.

Hopefully, in 20 years or so we will have a body of well founded research to back up such recommendations. Right now, we have a lot of enthusiasts and herbalists and a few honestly interested doctors who admit that we just don’t know that much on the subject right now. And we have political factions like the beef growers council and dairy farmers and fast food industry that may not like what the chemopreventionists and nutrigenicists will have to say about their products, and will thus do their best to choke off money for continued research. Look at how tough the tobacco industry has fought anti-smoking research and education over the years. And you have to wonder if the hospital corporations and pharmaceutical manufacturers and insurance companies and care management groups aren’t a bit scared of the idea that people who eat right and exercise properly might not need their services as much in the future.

Let’s just hope that somehow, in spite of the vested interests, our government gets the message that people want to learn how to eat better and exercise better so as to live longer and healthier, and that our leaders heed that call by making a lot more money available for chemoprevention and genomic research. It’s an investment that will pay itself back many times over in the future. It’s also a populist idea, given that it will benefit both the rich and the poor: we all have to eat, so why not eat the right stuff? Lets hope that a professional chemoprevention and genomic specialty grows within the health field, and does not limit itself to prescribing a few vitamin or mineral supplements as antibiotics are prescribed today, but addresses the overall topic of what foods are good and bad relative to a person’s specific health needs, and includes exercise and psychology and even spirituality, so as to help each person (rich or poor) achieve a longer and happier life.

◊   posted by Jim G @ 5:20 pm       No Comments Yet / Leave a Comment
 
 
Thursday, May 1, 2003
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SOMETHING TO BELIEVE IN: One of my biggest challenges right now is finding something to believe in. When I was young, it was easy to find things to believe in. Lots of things seemed good enough to put your faith and hope in. But after a while, those things showed their dark sides. And sometimes, the things that you would never believe in showed you their brighter sides. (Even the Republican Party? Well, OK, maybe that’s a stretch). Everything started equivocating. So I became a man without a cause; well, no one overwhelming cause, anyway.

I’m finishing up a book about Dan and Phil Berrigan, and whether you agree or disagree with what they did and why they did it, you have to admire them for believing in something. I myself work in a prosecutor’s office — arguably, the sworn enemy of the Berrigans and their ultra-resistance anti-war tactics. And yet, I sometimes see people who truly believe in criminal prosecution (not that I don’t believe in dealing with crime, but I don’t get all excited and swell with pride when I think about the actual system that we have in place to apprehend, prosecute and punish criminals). And I have to admire and envy those people almost as much as I do the Berrigans. They have something to believe in. (Hey, there are things to be said for the rule of law within a constitutional democracy and the maintenance of civilized conduct).

Yea, that’s one of the biggest battles in life — finding something to believe in, and to keep on believing in it.

◊   posted by Jim G @ 10:02 pm       No Comments Yet / Leave a Comment
 
 
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