Posted in September 2011

Wangari Maathai, a hero of mine is dead


One of my heroes died this week. Wangari Maathai was the unusual combination of social activism and humility. She had the courage to get a college degree when few Kenyan women were going to school, received her doctorate in the US, then faced discrimination as a female professor in her home country. Maathai dedicated her … Continue reading

What makes me wonder


On my book shelf are three items: a pink stone, an aluminum disk and the seed of a lantana palm. In 1976, near the hamlet of Badaling, in China, I walked, jogged and wandered along the roadway at the top of the Great Wall. Suddenly the passage ended. Although the Great Wall is 3,000 miles … Continue reading

The foundations of moral character


Families lay the foundation for good character. It is from those closest to us as children—parents mainly, but not only—that we form the basis upon which we build our character. From those who hold us closest, guide us (or not), support us (or not) and love us (or not), we develop the habits of character, … Continue reading

Unemployment causes NYC mayor to worry about riots


When riots broke out this summer in England, the analysis of the cause was split between those who saw the violence as acts of personal irresponsibility and those who put the blame on social inequities. Not surprisingly, the Prime Minister and other office holders blamed poor upbringing as the culprit. Parents, they said, have reared … Continue reading

Swimming With No Water in the Pool


In high school, one term of gym was devoted to swimming. We began the class by changing into shorts and sneakers for attendance on the basketball court, then returned to the locker room to undress. A teacher, who awaited us, turned on the water in the shower room and directed us there. He handed out … Continue reading