Investments

Two weeks ago my daughter asked me for some help on a school math assignment. She was given an imaginary $100,000 to invest in ten stocks and track how they performed over the course of two weeks.

In selecting her stocks, she picked things she believed in or liked. She likes to listen to music, so she chose Spotify. She loves to read, so she chose Scholastic.…


Understanding

There are so many things about life that are beyond my current understanding. Chief amongst these are the experiences of people whose backgrounds are different from my own.  

I do not understand what it feels like to be the victim of an injustice or to perpetrate it.

I do not understand what it is like to be discriminated against daily, to patrol the streets, to fight in a war, to live in fear for myself or my family.…


Tears

It happened as the parade of cars drove through our town, our children’s teachers beeping and beaming as we waved.

It happened as I attended the virtual graduation ceremony at City College and read the students and parents’ supportive and proud comments and emojis scroll down the Youtube Live chat box for an hour.

It happened as I watched each episode of Some Good News, as each story chronicled one beautiful act of appreciation after another.…


Sharing

My two favorite parts of “It’s a Wonderful Life” are both born out of crisis.

The first comes as there is a run on the Bailey Building and Loan, the small community bank led by the movie’s protagonist, George Bailey. Fearing insolvency the customers descend on the bank with the hope of withdrawing all of their money out of fear caused by the stock market crash.…


Public

One of the defining American debates is the ongoing question of Public vs. Private.  Another way to think of it is — what is mine vs. what is ours?  This question runs through issues related to economics, rights, education, health, property and so on.

Some see these ideas of public and private mostly at odds.  An example of zero-sum thinking (see here for a great summary of research on how this thinking plays out politically). 


Insufficient?

In the face of our current challenges, I’ve heard many echo my own feelings that our personal actions have been insufficient. This is especially true when we compare ourselves to others whose roles are deemed essential and actions heroic.

This sentiment at times comes when people reflect on their relative good fortune or privilege. But it is not limited to the lucky.

I’ve also spoken to those directly impacted by events.…


Canceled

They came one after another. A work event I’d been helping prepare for months. Both universities where I teach canceled classes and would move the rest online. A trip to Boston with my youngest daughter for her first basketball tournament. Another local tournament for two daughter’s soccer teams. Then the postponement of the youth soccer season altogether. Then their basketball season. Then one’s theatre program, another’s gymnastics etc.…


Heroic Hospitality

Recently, we took our daughters to go see the play, Come From Away. It tells the story of how the small town of Gander, Newfoundland came to the aid of over 7,000 passengers whose planes were forced to land as American airspace was closed in the minutes after the 9/11 attacks. They provided not only lodging, food, and clothes, but also comfort, compassion and love to the strangers who doubled the size of the town’s population for almost a week.  …


Three offers you can refuse…

Every holiday season, AMC puts the Godfather trilogy in heavy rotation. The timing is ironic on many levels.  Including that one of its most iconic lines, “I made him an offer he couldn’t refuse” is antithetical to the very idea of giving. 

As a verb, an offer is “to present something for someone to accept or reject as so desired.”  As a noun, it is “an expression of readiness to do or give something, if desired.”…


What are your greatest hits this year?

With just one month left in the year, it is natural to look back at the previous eleven. For some it will feel like a blur, others a slog, others yet a mixed bag.
 
In the context of our life, it is likely that only a handful of memories from this year will remain lodged in our consciousness this time next year, joining the handful of others from each previous year of our lives. …