Posted in June 2012

What I’ve Learned from a Rock


On my bookshelf I keep three items: a pink stone, an aluminum disk and the seed of a lantana palm. One piece I keep is from Asia. 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. … Continue reading

Empathy Is Necessary for a Good Life


“Suffering and joy teach us, if we allow them, how to make the leap of empathy, which transports us into the soul and heart of another person. In those transparent moments we know other people’s joys and sorrows, and we care about their concerns as if they were our own,” explains Fritz Williams, Leader Emeritus of … Continue reading

Happiness and gifts: 6 thoughts


1. Gifts properly given bring happiness to giver and receiver alike. Gifts improperly given create resentment and shame. Therefore, be thoughtful and careful in what and how you give.  2. Receiving gifts graciously is a gift to the giver. Graciousness is a gift of the heart. A gift of the heart is a gift of happiness.  3. Others … Continue reading

You’re a Cheater, Don’t Lie


Studies by Duke University professor Dan Ariely and colleagues indicate that most people are inclined to cheat, despite the fact that “we want to view ourselves as honest, wonderful people.” The trick in maintaining our integrity is by cheating just a little. “ As long as we cheat just a little bit, we can still … Continue reading

Race: Two Worlds—Stop and Frisk


I grew up in Brooklyn, in the 73rd police precinct, which covers parts of Brownsville and East New York. As a teenager I commuted to Stuyvesant High School in Manhattan. These two bits of my childhood—the neighborhood and school—figured in a story aired recently on WNYC, which reported that kids between 14 and 18 were … Continue reading

Humanist Code of Ethics


Do no harm to the earth, for she is your mother. Being is more important than having. Never promote yourself at another’s expense. Hold life sacred; treat it with reverence. Allow each person the dignity of his or her labor. Open your home to the wayfarer. Listen to your deepest dreams. Make restitution to those you … Continue reading

Liberty and/or Justice?


According to a report in the Huffington Post, some middle-class Americans find that the income tax morally unacceptable. The study, involving 24 small-business owners in the South, found that respondents assessed the tax not in economic terms but in moral ones. Despite the study’s small sample, I think the study is an accurate reflection of many Americans’ attitudes. … Continue reading