Resistance in the Age of Trump

Submitted by Andrea Perrault

As the Trump administration continues its march to Make America Great Again, it seems that on each day we are shocked by a new tweet, press release, or news item promoted by Sean Spicer, the Trump Press Secretary. There are so many issues that deeply concern us, as budget cuts or severe decimation seem likely: the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Endowment for the Arts, National Public Radio, the Public Broadcasting System, public education, the National Science Foundation, and, of course, Obamacare. While we may be disillusioned or downright depressed, we need to focus on the types of actions that will bring about collective action to save the things we hold dear. Consider the following:

Efficiency

Marvin MillerSubmitted by Marvin Miller

Religions and governments are involved in ethics: they tell people, by commandments, laws, etc., what they want people to regard as the right thing to do.

Our society is the most inefficient in the world.

In physics, efficiency is defined as the ratio of useful work done to total energy used. Americans use more energy per capita than the people of any other country. But we don’t live better than people do in other technologically advanced countries. Those of us who have jobs work longer than people do elsewhere. We don’t spend less time getting to and from work than others do. We don’t have more time for lunch breaks, vacations, leave for family care, or holidays than others do.

Pot Talk Redux

marijuana leafIn February of 2015, the Boston Ethical Community hosted a panel discussion featuring members of the Cannabis Society of Massachusetts. On March 19, the Cannabis Society returns to BEC to present a talk entitled High Ground.

Much has transpired since the  2015 session. Marijuana advocates were then primarily concerned with medical marijuana. The panel discussed difficulties that caregivers faced in growing and administering marijuana as therapy for a variety of medical conditions. At that time, no medical marijuana dispensaries in the state had yet gained approval to sell the product.

Media Matters

Submitted by Andrea Perrault

The story of how we, the public, get our news has never been more important. In 2008, Barack Obama broke new ground with his campaign’s ability to communicate over social media. The campaign built a stunningly effective strategy to mobilize the youth vote. Yet, how quickly the bright light of that effort dimmed. In 2012, many younger people felt disillusioned because change had not come fast enough.

Religion, Government, Ethics

Marvin MillerSubmitted by Marvin Miller

Religions and governments are involved in ethics: they tell people, by commandments, laws, etc., what they want people to regard as the right thing to do.

Religion and government have always been entangled with each other. In ancient times there was no distinction between them. Over time, specialization occurred; the people who led the societies’ religious rituals were not the same people as those who conducted its civil and military affairs. This separation didn’t happen all at once. Even today in our own society, religious leaders are authorized by governments to conduct ceremonies that change the legal marital status of couples.

A More Humane Society

marvin-headSubmitted by Marvin Miller

The American Ethical Union’s statement of purpose says that the supreme aim of human life is to create a more humane society. This idea is in accord with the recognition that humans are social beings and that every act of a living organism has the purpose of making life better for that organism and its species.

What would a more humane society be like?

The Information Age Has a Breakdown

trump-line-artSubmitted by Andrea Perrault

During the 2016 presidential campaign, much political discussion revolved around the death of manufacturing in the United States, and its impact on the U.S. economy. The disappearance of manufacturing is not news, but the people who were most affected by it, most notably those in the Midwest, saw the situation as worse than dire and saw Donald Trump as their hero. Their voting patterns determined that it would be the make or break issue for the campaign. With their resolve, Donald Trump won the presidency; Republicans won the Senate and the House, and shock came to many, pundits and citizenry alike.

Many of us on the east and west coasts thought that the Information Age had supplanted the Manufacturing Age, and that the country was adjusting to the new reality in an acceptable fashion. Were we wrong!

Evolution and The Earth

earth-1706213_960_720Submitted by Peter Denison

Many people warn that the earth is in danger. Yet we know that our planet is now more than four billion years old and will probably last several billion more until our sun ultimately blows up. What people really mean is that human life may be in danger. Through the forces of evolution, many species have come into being, lived a number of years, and then died out. Over 99% of all species have run their course and become extinct.

We like to say that the dinosaurs “ruled” the earth for more than a hundred million years. Yes, they were obviously the largest animals on Earth for that period, but to say that they dominated the pests, insects, microbes, and parasites that fed on them and sickened or killed them is a stretch. Also, no single species survived throughout that period. Finally, due to environmental changes which included a gigantic meteorite crash, all dinosaurs became extinct.

Human Rights

Marvin MillerSubmitted by Marvin Miller

In other years I have written about human rights for the December newsletter, in recognition of the anniversaries of the Bill of Rights, Dec. 15, 1791, and the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Dec. 10, 1948. But January is also an appropriate month to remember human rights: it includes the birthday anniversaries of Franklin Roosevelt, Jan. 30, 1882, and Martin Luther King Jr., Jan. 15, 1929.

Dr. King’s struggle for equal civil and political rights for African-Americans is well known. In his ‘I have a dream” speech, he said that his dream was deeply rooted in the American dream, that all men are created equal. (In our day we would say all people are born equal.) Less well known is his struggle for economic rights and his opposition to the war in Vietnam, which he regarded as unjust. His last public appearance was in support of the sanitation workers of Memphis, who were on strike for decent treatment. The signs they carried said, “I am a man.” One of Dr. King’s memorable lines is “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

Toward Reconciliation

Submitted by Peter Denison

ESB bannerThe New York Times of Saturday, October 29, 2016, printed a story about a woman named Shifa al-Qudsi, a Palestinian so upset by the mistreatment of her people that she volunteered to become a suicide bomber. Fortunately, she was caught before she could detonate the bomb and was sentenced to six years in an Israeli prison. During her imprisonment, she learned about a group called “Combatants for Peace” which had been started by some Israeli veterans whose army careers had convinced them that there must be a better way than shooting and bombing the enemy. Shifa had come to the same conclusion while serving in prison. Thus she joined a group composed both of Israelis and Palestinians working for a peaceful solution.