Saturday, May 14, 2022

Making Peace In the Moment We Are Alive

        It is a custom to offer reflections of gratitude for a Buddhist teacher on the 100 day commemoration of their death. May 1 marked this continuation for the Most Venerable Thich Nhat Hanh, or Thay (teacher), and this is my belated offering of gratitude. 

Sunday, May 8, 2022

A Spectrum of Trust

        For years now, we’ve been discussing different aspects how to manage broken relationships, especially relationships strained by the increasing polarization of American society. More and more people speak with me about feelings of isolation and loneliness. Even before the pandemic, more than 40% of Americans reported feeling that their relationships weren’t meaningful, and 20% said that they “rarely or never feel close to people”. ( )

Sunday, May 1, 2022

May Day, Unions, and Economic Justice

I grew up in a working class family, with a father who worked in a factory my whole life. Most of those years, he worked second shift, which was great in the summer. We were able to go to the school lot and play some version of baseball several times a week. It was a pick-up game if enough people were available, using ghost runners if we were short. And if only a few of us were there, it would be fly-knocker or hot-box. Other days, we were out in the community, maybe mowing grass together for folks who couldn't manage their lawns or picking up groceries. During the school year, I mainly saw him on the weekends, except for those nights I managed to stay up late, and we'd catch the late news or reruns of M*A*S*H*. 

In our home, there was never a question of the dignity and importance of manual labor. My dad considered other careers, but the factory had better pay and benefits than the options available to him after university, so he stayed at the factory. I grew up understanding that his work wasn’t less important than the work he might have done if he had chosen a different career path. There was also never a question about the importance of labor rights and union organizing. Even though my dad worked at a non-union factory, he always emphasized that the benefits he enjoyed were also because of the power of unions. 

        At the heart of all of this were some very basic principles. I couldn’t put them into words as a child, but I could give a short list now: 

  •  a healthy economy cannot be separated from equity and equality; 
  • everyone should have access to a safe, stable, and healthy economic and social life; 
  • discrimination and disparities are signs of social sickness; 
  • the right of workers to organize and collectively bargain should always be protected and prioritized;
  • all work and workers should be treated with dignity and gratitude.