Sunday, November 20, 2022

Reflections on the UN Convention on The Rights of the Child

I didn’t learn about the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child until I was living in Cambodia, where it was an important framework for helping us address family violence, human trafficking, and community development. Maybe this isn’t too surprising, since the Convention is still young. It was adopted on this day (November 20) in 1989 by the UN General Assembly and became effective on September 2, 1990, after it was ratified by the required number of members. It is a very basic commitment to honoring and protecting the dignity and humanity of children, and 196 nations, including every member of the United Nations except one, has made that commitment. The one UN member that is still holding out, three decades later, is the USA. 

Sunday, November 13, 2022

“Even Where We Mean to Mend Her”: Transforming Culture in an Age of Catastrophic Climate Change

In 1879, Gerard Manley Hopkins celebrated a row of trees and grieved that they had been cut down. His grief expanded from those trees to the hubris of humanity, elegantly and painfully describing how quickly we alter the living world of which we are a part – often to its (and our own) devastation. The result was "Binsey Poplars": 

 My aspens dear, whose airy cages quelled,
Quelled or quenched in leaves the leaping sun,
All felled, felled, are all felled;
    Of a fresh and following folded rank
            Not spared, not one
            That dandled a sandalled
            Shadow that swam or sank
On meadow and river and wind-wandering weed-winding bank.

Sunday, October 9, 2022

From Coercion to Connection

Several times in the last months, I have been unexpectedly called upon to discuss my commitment to nonviolence. This used to be a regular occurrence, but it hadn’t happened in some time. Still, I wasn’t exactly caught off guard; it turns out that sharing my experiences and aspirations regarding nonviolence and non-harming are a bit like remembering how to ride a bike. What did surprise me was the realization of how I had become accustomed to not talking about nonviolence. A few weeks ago, I sat in a park with a good friend, someone who has shared similar convictions and experiences, and we reflected together on how our own relationship with nonviolence has grown and changed over the years, and what the role of nonviolence might be now, in a world that is both the same and different from the one we grew up embracing nonviolence. 

Sunday, September 25, 2022

Creating a Culture of Care

One of the great gifts my parents gave to me was a commitment to caring for one another. I watched them, and grew up helping out, as they would mow lawns, pick up groceries, provide transportation, babysit, and otherwise provide a helping hand to both family and friends. This was especially the case as people faced sickness and grew close to death. It was an expression of generosity and love, and (most of the time!) it was given without complaint. So, it wasn’t a surprise that, within months of the day I moved away to attend university, my childhood bedroom was converted into what became my grandmother’s hospice room. I would travel home on weekends to visit her and my family, often spending hours sitting on what used to be my bedroom floor, playing guitar and sharing stories with my grandma, and sleeping on the couch, before heading back for class. After her death, that room became the temporary residence of a series of other loved ones, who needed a combination of care, supervision, or just some extra help dealing with the ups and downs of life. 

Sunday, August 7, 2022

Facing Conspiracies & Reimagining Community

My Personal Roots

       I grew up in the 1980s in a Southern Baptist church, home, and community, but I was not exposed to creationism until my sophomore year of high school. And it was not at church. It was in my AP Biology 2 class at a public school. Our teacher had announced that, to avoid arguments about evolution, we would just be skipping that topic – you know, a topic essential to understanding biology. However, a few students saw an opportunity and brought creationist literature from home. They talked about them during breaks, loaned them out, and encouraged us to go to events and book studies at their churches.

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”. ( )