Inevitably, in one form or another, a student in every class asks the question: “Miss, were you a hippie?” It’s a question that floats on their internalized images of the type–all flower-loving nonviolence–and the readings that hold sway in our content–readings by Michelle Alexander and Angela Davis detailing the human poisons of the privatized prison industry, articles about resource wars in Africa, about housing toxins and educational disparities. I sense their disappointment when I tell them that I came of adolescence after the hippie years under Jimmy Carter. Vietnam had passed; Jimmy Carter was kind. The hippies had a crisis of relevance. Continue reading
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I was listening to NPR yesterday—an interview with Sir Tom Stoppard, screenwriter for the new Anna Karenina movie. When asked about the meaning of love he posed the question, “Are we born self-interested and we have to learn to be good? Or are we born selfless and merely corrupted by competition and institution?” I’m guessing there’s not any black or white answer to the question, though I was taught in my young religious days that we were born in total depravity with the need, of course, to be saved in an institution that just happens to make a lot of money off such doctrines—a truth that seems to belie the first argument in support of the second. Then there’s my own parenting that seems to betray the truths of corruption.
When my older son was five, he had a passion for Mary Poppins. He loved her magic, her command, her…
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It wasn’t the first such postal advertisement I’d received though perhaps the first I’d given more than a cursory glare and the standard rant of expletives. Was it the recent flood of ads from this industrial mammoth that gave me pause? The obscene sums of money dumped into a campaign of such obvious deception? Maybe the gnawing fear that such schemes must have their effects… or why bother? Continue reading
It is Memorial Day, 2014, and below I am re-posting a piece I wrote last summer in order to honor the sacrifice, courage, and service of Pvt Chelsea (Bradley) Manning. I’ve struggled with the appropriateness of re-posting my own writing, which seems particularly ingratiating with this piece, by far the most popular post on my blog–at least in terms of the number who read it. Continue reading
In recent weeks, America has learned the extent to which our government collects data on its citizens, gathering and storing personal information on each and every one of its 316 million or so cell phone and Internet users–data available for scrutiny at any point that any one citizen becomes a threat to national security or, perhaps, simply inconvenient to the purposes of hoarding power. Continue reading