On Materialism

It is what it is. If the shoe fits, wear it. If you’ve got it, flaunt it. A rose by any other name…. Our language is peppered with such phrases that urge authenticity. Perhaps Shakespeare said it most eloquently (Hamlet, I,3, 564-566) with This above all--to thine own self be true, And it must follow, … Continue reading On Materialism

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Tyranny Prevention

Yale University’s Levin Professor of History Timothy Snyder has written a manifesto for democracy titled On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century (New York: Tim Duggan Books, 2017). This little volume (128 pages, 6” x 4.5”) packs a wallop. Although he never names anyone as his focal tyrant wannabe, the reader knows that this … Continue reading Tyranny Prevention

Loving is Living

The sleepy Davidson College campus awoke with a start. It was graduation day in the Spring of 1960. I, a lowly freshman, sat quietly with fellow singers in the Male Chorus. We awaited our next turn to entertain with song. With the audience of faculty, parents, and fellow graduating seniors expecting him to dribble on … Continue reading Loving is Living

What Does Meaning Mean?

Give me a break! That was my first thought when I read these passages in a scholarly article: “How do students make meaning when they explore their strengths?” “Does their meaning-making influence their daily lives?” “Identify your strengths and give them meaning.” “Enabling a deep analysis of personal meaning-making…” “Depending on individual meaning-making, etc….” “…reflection … Continue reading What Does Meaning Mean?

Beauty, Billions, and Brains

My search for summer reading led me to a first novel by Stuart Rojstaczer (ROYCE-teacher)--The Mathematician’s Shiva (Penguin, 2014). Hadn’t heard of it, but it sounded intriguing—a fictional, brilliant, female, University of Wisconsin mathematician named Rachela Karnokovitch was dead, and brainy mathematicians from around the were globe sitting shiva. Much of the story dealt with … Continue reading Beauty, Billions, and Brains

Leaving Stuff Behind

I’d like to leave more than a tombstone for folks to remember me by. German-American psychologist Erik Erikson wrote of the importance of generativity—of leaving something for future generations to value and remember us by. Something tangible that affirms our life has meaning for others after all is said and done. Our legacy. Recent happiness … Continue reading Leaving Stuff Behind

A Modest Proposal

In 1729, Jonathan Swift brought attention to the plight of Ireland’s starving poor by ironically suggesting the children be fattened and served up to the rich. My modest proposal today employs no irony. Rather, I address a serious issue by suggesting a small, effortless, non-resource-consuming, incremental change. The serious issue: Carbon emissions. The suggestion: Cut … Continue reading A Modest Proposal