Wishes

On any given day, approximately 800,000 people in the United States will celebrate their birthday. When we are young, we sit with a birthday cake before us, surrounded by friends and families and we make a wish to blow out the lit candles marking our years. 

In any given year,  many of these wishes bear some semblance to one another despite the diversity of the wish makers. …


Wonderful

While walking my dog in the woods nearby, I stopped to marvel at a giant fallen oak. Uprooted from the ground, it was hard to surmise what had toppled this mammoth tree. I was full of wonder at the extensive roots laid bare for all to examine the many connections severed.  Feelings of both loss and hope filled me as I was reminded that soon that tree would decompose with its nutrients revitalizing the soil that it would soon become part of.…


Blessed

I’m not sure I’ve ever felt as blessed as I did this Thanksgiving. It was a day of almost complete harmony among my wife and I and our three daughters.  

Our day began with a simple exercise of writing down the many people and things we were grateful for this year, in spite of all that has engulfed our nation and impaired our daily lives.

Under different circumstances, this request could have been met with eye rolls and pleas to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade.…


We

Which word do you use more often, “We” or “I”?

David Brooks’ column “How to Actually Make America Great Again” reflects on the new book by Robert Putnam and Shaylyn Romney Garrett called The Upswing It chronicles America’s swing from solidarity (we) to individualism (I) over the last fifty years.

As one point of evidence, the authors cite that the use of the word “I” in American books has doubled between 1965 and 2008.


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.…