Monday, May 21, 2018

Was it not ironic hypocrisy?

That the (otherwise) meaningful and beautiful service of Meghan and Harry began with the statement to the effect, "marriage is the joining of a man and a woman" was in stark contrast with the sermon extolling "the love between two people."

If I heard it right, I'm sorry I did not join the throngs of young people who must've been tempted to tune out yet another religious service.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Another lesson at Uber University!

It was my first trip on Uber Pool to see a notation reading, "Driver may be deaf or hard of hearing." Indeed he was totally deaf, but other than limiting my "usual" conversation, the drive went very smoothly through busy traffic. He appeared to be in his 30's, and seated next to him on the front seat, I could notice that his stylish cap read" Ethiopia". I tried to converse with him by stating that I had been to nearby Egypt!

How remarkable that I, because of my handicap in walking, was being assisted by a recent immigrant who was totally oblivious to the spoken word. I smiled at him in our mutual derision at the lady who insisted that he make a difficult turn in horrible traffic in order to take her merely one=half block closer to her designated address. I wondered what he must've thought about the American fetish for ease and service.

How I wish I could have the opportunity to converse with him to learn more about his possible trials or tribulations in entering our country. How I wish I could show that I would like to be his friend. But at least I luckily remembered that giving him my business card might be some evidence of friendship.

Monday, April 23, 2018

A remarkable new experience at 92!

Oh  I'd been to many concerts before, hundreds, maybe thousands if you count organ concerts at church. But I never had the almost out of body experience as I did recently at the Concert Hall of the Kennedy Center in Washington DC. I was literally "blown away" in a number of ways.

Most of my concert going has been in the nosebleed section where the sounds are blended and somewhat muted. From there,looking over a sea of patrons, we viewed the cooperative effort of anonymous and almost faceless performers. This time, however, Linda managed to get tickets that were not only in the Center Section, but were in the Second Row!

From the beginning of Bach;s Fugue for Strings I knew I was in a different world. As the violins began over here, there were violas over there and then they were joined by the cellos in the back. I could see the intensity of individual players and the effort exerted to fly their fingers over the strings and fling their bows in unison at their instruments. It was Stereo on Steroids live and in person!

But it only got better! As Leila Josefowicz played Stravinsky's Violin Concerto in F Minor just 15 feet from me, I saw unmitigated genius and dexterity at work.  Such concentration and intensity in blending mind, body and spirit!  She appeared to be dancing with her violin as her partner.

After the intermission we had the opportunity to concentrate on conductor Gianandres Noseda's and his magic fingers. Stravinsky's Symphonies of Wind Instruments was apparently performed by flutes, oboes, clarinets, bassoons, horns, trumpets, trombones, and a tuba. We couldn't tell because they were all hidden from us by the vacated chairs and music stands of the string section.  Truthfully to me, the music seemed to emanate from the fingers of the Conductor as he waved in various directions. As he turned to the audience to bow we could see the perspiration streaming from his face, and I was particularly warmed as, in response to my loud, "Bravado", he looked directly in my eyes in apparent appreciation.

But the climactic "climax" came with Mozart's Symphony Number 39 in E Flat Major. It was a chance for me to close my eyes and revel in beauty and contemplation. I thought of the effort and diligence of the performers and of the enjoyment  I shared with so many others.

But there was one added thing that drew my attention as I left my prized second row seat. I felt the need to greet more warmly a person in the first row. She was remaining until someone could escort her out. She was blind! How striking to learn from  our conversation that she had enjoyed the concert as much as I.

Yet another new/old experience

How thrilling on Easter Sunday to see once again Jesus Christ, Superstar; But in a totally different format and style on television. And for the first time three generations viewing it. The original performance heard by my young family so many years ago was so very meaningful to us. It was their Hamilton! They memorized every word. And here it was again bringing tears to us in a new exciting format.

I'm not sure though that I could tolerate anyone messing with 
Amahl and the Night Visitors

Monday, April 9, 2018

That March 25th Rant was my last! But.............................

You might recall that in it:

I promised to enlarge on several of the items that give me hope. And here I begin

    Advice for young people:
  • While I have thrilled to see their vigorous response to the gun issue, I sincerely hope that they not only have the conviction, courage and endurance to follow through, but they must realize that they not be a "single issue constituency".
  • And while I know I run the risk of being turned off and considered an, "Old fuddy-duddy" (or something much worse) for giving advice to young people. I'm still going to suggest a first area for their consideration.  And there may well be more to come.
The environment:

For 20 years or more. I've done my darnedest (that's as close as I can come to swearing on the printed page) to understand and do something about geting more than 10 states have a bottle refund deposit law. From personal experience in several states, from research and from the example of almost every developed country in the world but ours, it has been a boon to improving the environment. It's well-known that we have failed to extended such laws to other states primarily because of the lobbying of the bottle industry.
From my experience with young people I know full well that the environment is (and should be) a major concern of theirs. It also appears to me that they are among the greatest users of disposable plastic, glass, and any other kind of container. Thus I would challenge them to look at the issues that are involved ranging from personal choice to governmental issues and lobbying to determine an appropriate course for our nation as a whole to join in this environmentally sound the practice. There are times and conditions that necessitate dramatic events. The gun protest was one. The ingenuity of youth can find many ways to protect the environment. Perhaps it's time for boycotts of products or study and debate groups looking at the issues that would be involved in individual states or nationwide.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

A marvelous view of a changing society

This made my day!

It was at the end of a grueling trip – and almost any flight today is grueling when you're 92 years old. I wondered if – in order to save money – I had made a mistake by taking a bus instead of Uber to get from BWI to my apartment in DC. And the three block walk from the connecting Metro stop seemed interminable to my aching back.

But it was worth it! Crossing Macomb Street, just one block from home, were two middle aged gentlemen. Walking with them was a beautiful, smiling, child of about four years of age of a totally different racial composition.

And then as I entered my apartment complex, I again saw a male Caucasian speak to a two-year-old African-American child saying, "And daddy is upstairs fixing dinner."

How fortunate I felt that fate enabled me to have these two experiences. Certainly I made assumptions. But I could only feel joy that the bounds of love and caring in my lifetime have been expanded. And that no amount of pseudo-intellectual discussion could dissuade me from knowing the improvement I have seen in this lifetime of mine.


Quite a change from my previous very lengthy rant, but I hope you'll check it out. It's my testament to a hopeful future. 

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Hope for the future

At 92 years of age
I finally see hope for the future of America!
And here's why.

For the first time in my 92 years, I came awfully close to despair regarding my country's future. My lifelong optimism has been in danger of being lost because of the daily onslaught of divisive news and the lack of a cohesive effort politically to solve complex national and worldwide human problems. Having lived through depressions and recessions, hot wars and cold wars as well as innumerable natural catastrophes, I have always seen the citizens of my country unite to meet the various challenges through cooperation and respect for government. I've always been proud of my country even though our treatment of Native Americans and other minorities has been dismal. I am proud that in my lifetime progress has been made in redressing our countries' historically dismal treatment of minorities so that I could find succor in the statement of Dr. King and others that the arc of justice continues to move in a positive direction. But never have I been so dismayed by the disregard of our leaders for simple courtesy in the treatment of others, for the disregard for truth and scientific analysis, for an unwillingness to compromise for the common good and for the rejection of America's fourth estate, the press.

However I am now able to move from this temptation of despair
because of two forces that not only give promise for change,
but also provide leadership for the first time to

Make America Truly Great!

How heartening for me to live to see HOPE as women finally become co-partners in leadership and are now joined by the youth of America with their vision for a future of love, peace and goodwill using modern technology. How dramatic to see that that these young peoplS throughout the country have begun to realize the important contribution they can make in creating a peaceful and loving world: that they can see through the selfishness and hypocrisy that has been permitted to control America and envision a world that values unity and inclusiveness for all in a safe environment.

These two forceful movements provide the vehicle for change and progress for an idealistic future that has only been dreamed of. Yet I believe there are

  • The wisdom of Solons, oracles and prophets
  • The strength and unity of American communities in the past.
But before looking at the last two aspects involved in change, I think it important for me to share some of my personal thoughts relative to the reason for my optimism.

  1. The force of feminine leadership.
    From the privilege of attending the Woman's March in Washington the day after the inauguration of President Trump, I am well aware that the women of America need no advice for me. I increasingly find it inconceivable that human kind has ignored the strengths of one half of the population in seeking to solve complex world problems. Tradition, social mores' and emotional prejudices have dominated the conversation while we have ignored the unique contributions that women could make in charting undiscovered human potential. It's time for men to step back and see how we can best support women in this movement. It's time for we men to consider the past difficulties we have burdened women with in order for us to understand and and support them in the future. History is replete with arduous struggles for justice and equality. WE MEN CAN BEGIN TO HELP MOVE FORWARD by schooling ourselves in past and enduring injustices. We can begin by looking back at the great leaders like Anthony, Stanton, Friedan and Steinhem. We should also individually look at ourselves and see where we have failed to support insightful women in our own lives. Taking this advice personally, I can recognize my failure as a father and husband to stand up for daughters and a wife who endured misunderstanding and mistreatment:
  • When my high school daughter was in the dentist chair and told by her dentist, "Honey, open your mouth wider", She replied, "My mother may call me honey, my father may call me honey, but you can't."
  • My seventh grade daughter, in order to participate on her junior high school track team, had do undergo the ridicule of being on the boy's team since there was no girl's tea coach. She was not treated with respect by her male teammates and even her the adult coach.
  • The trauma of my two daughters being subjected to Me – Too behaviors by men in power positions!
  • It was hard for me to accept the fact that my 21-year-old fiancĂ© broke our engagement in 1950. As she gave me the ring back, she stated that while she still loved me, she felt she was compelled to do so since she had never – and probably would never would if she married me soon – experience the freedom of life on her own without being responsible to a male. Never did I give thought to her difficulties as a pioneering feminist. I thought only of my trauma. But how insightful she was to "endure" this experience that she deemed necessary. I know now the full happiness that ensued because of her wisdom.
  1. The idealism of young people in seeking to chart a new direction for their country.
    Young people throughout the world over the past few years have played a leadership role in seeking justice, equality and freedom from tyranny for all peoples. Certainly this was the tenor of the times in the Near East where it was so vividly displayed in Cairo Egypt. And for years, even our own country, young people have been on the forefront of improvement in civil rights For me the month following the murder of students and adults at the high school in Parkland, Florida, is a continuing part of this demand for change. Young people are tired of the hypocrisy on constant display and the pace of change over the past few years to improve conditions for those without hope our safety, especially for those whose voices have never been heard. I find it remarkable there are similarities around the world. While the similarities are uncanny, consider how dramatically different is the action of American youth. It began with young people from an affluent public school who learned their civics lessons well. Peaceful demonstrations were followed up by discussions and meetings with public officials to bring change through the American system of legislation and justice. Yet consider how dramatically different appears to be the action of American youth. It began with young people from a public school who learned there civics lessons well. Peaceful demonstrations were followed up by discussions and meetings with public officials to bring change through the American system of legislation and justice. Young people were mocked and faced ridicule and censure as they expressed their sadness and grief and deeply felt feelings. Yet they felt compelled to confront a system they perceived as being moribund.
    What an exciting way to begin a revolution.

Thus my hope for the future has been renewed. I would be remiss, however, if I left it at that. While in many ways my 92 years were never unique or exotic, I feel I have been in a position to participate in and observe a rather historical period. And I feel compelled to share insights I have gained in that time that might have value in the future.

  1. The wisdom of Solons, oracles and prophets. Even printing the words seems archaic. There are probably few who know that Solon refers to the wise, elderly lawyers of Athens who were called upon to redefine the law. Do many young people know that the Oracle of Delphi refers to the elderly Greek philosopher of wisdom in 1400 BC. But most Bible oriented Americans know what an elderly prophet is. I fear that one of the weaknesses of our society today is that history – the past – has nothing to offer and there is a reluctance by young people to seek elderly wise solons, oracles or prophets.
    This previous paragraph is my attempt to be erudite in giving some advice to young people: that their much needed enthusiasm and desire for change be tempered by looking to the wisdom, achievements and errors of past generations. For proof of this. I would like to share an example from my educational experiences in the 1950s and 60s.
    James B. Conant's distinguished career ranges from the presidency of Harvard University to that of a scientist developing the atomic bomb to leadership in West Berlin during the height of the Cold War. As an educator, however, I saw him best when he was called by the Carnegie Institute to lead a reform of American education. All America was upset because the launching of Sputnik by the Russians meant that their educational system was for superior to ours. While the study brought forth many helpful suggestions for improving the American high school, we failed to heed Conant's underlying warnings “written in wrath” in the Carnegie study, Slums and Suburbs:
that ghetto schools were woefully inadequate and were the equivalent of social
dynamite and he feared that the dangerous social situation would explode.

In retrospect, one can clearly see that a younger generation at that time did not follow the wisdom of this prophet who clearly pointed to the needs of Fourth of A Nation, the title a book published at that time which clearly denoted how one fourth of our country was being neglected.
While I make no claim to being an Oracle, Solon or Prophet, I shall occasionally use my Ranting blog to share thoughts from the past which may be of help in assisting these young people in their commitment to saving lives and making life better for all
  1. The strength and unity of American communities in the past.
    In his book, Bowling Alone, Robert Putnam mantains that America has lost those forces that have been the glue that unified our people into one country in the past. From Rotary clubs to churches, from a few mainstrem radio and television voices to a cacophony of discordant social media voices, we are no longer drawn together. Separation and isolation are today the norm.
I personally believe that recent political events have magnified this problem,
and it is perhaps the greatest stumbling block that must be overcome for harmony
and wholeness is to be achieved. if our . And while there are many tangents to the
problem. I believe that Robert Putnam's book American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us and Better Together:Restoring the American Community
provide insight into how unity can again be achieved. And yet I know that even though we profess to be a “God-fearing” nation, the mere mention of the word is not only anathema to my four children and nine grandchildren, but is disdain by
most of America's idealistic young people.

Religion: the word alone sounds the alarm of hypocrisy and hostility to young people. Mystical things like virgin birth, miracles, a heavenly father and an afterlife are anathema to them. Yet I am convinced that it is in this area that a better understanding of the role and function of the world's great true religions, all of which are built on the platform of love and peace will provide a world that is desperately sought by women and the youth of America. It is my belief that the hypocrisy expressed by religious leaders in maintaining traditional practices and superstitions has kept young people from finding the strength and purpose that they are desperately seeking. While I respect religious institutions for their good works, I am convinced that their tribal approach and concept of a father God who created and controlled world has shown the need for

A new Reformation is needed to remove divisiveness, political posturing and hypocrisy in order to create unity in America by making churches, mosques and synagogues places of contemplation and commitment to love and peace for all.

And as agnostic, atheistic Christian, I'd enjoy talking about the topic further.

Friday, March 23, 2018

This message for you who were fortunate enough not to hear and see Pres. Trump's press conference today.

 It was more painful than you could imagine. He droned on and on about two things.
  • The need to strengthen our depleted military, and
  • securing the money to build a wall.
How refreshing that tomorrow we will hear the voice of youth.

An equally painful to me was to see our "good Christian" vice president nodding his approval.