Homelessness

Marvin Miller

Submitted by Marvin Miller

The Boston Ethical community  has recently been giving its refreshment basket donations to Boston Health Care for the Homeless. We have given our Humanist of the Year award to people involved with providing services for homeless people, dating back to 1983. But why, in 2016, in the richest country in the world, are some people homeless?

Housing is one of the universal human rights in the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948). The right of every family to a decent home is one of the rights that President Franklin Roosevelt said, in his 1944 State of the Union message, that the United States has accepted.

Professor Juliet Schor Accepts 2016 Humanist of the Year Award

Submitted by Fred Hewett

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On April 10, 2016, BEC honored Professor Juliet Schor of Boston College as the 2016 Humanist of the Year.

Professor Schor’s talk, entitled “New Perspectives on Climate Economy” gave an overview of the economic challenges that confront a world beset by climate change.

She called for dramatic changes in our energy usage. “In the global north we need to move quickly to very large emissions reductions, well outside of the range of historic experience”, she said.

The Issue of “Frankenfoods”

Submitted by Peter Denison

The science of genetics has been growing so rapidly that it must be hard for even a scientist in the field to keep up.  Both animal and plant breeders have been modifying various plants and animals for several millennia.  The standard way had been to grow a crop of, say, wheat, and then select the seeds of those which seemed the best in desired qualities.  Gradually the wheat crop would give better wheat, and after a sufficient length of time, the wheat crop would have little resemblance to the original wild wheat.  If there is such a thing as “intelligent design,” this is it.  The fresh fruit we eat often bears little or no resemblance to its wild ancestors.  Break open the pit of a peach and one will find a nut resembling an almond,  but not one which is edible.  All dogs have evolved from one breed of wild wolves, although many fashionable breeds nowadays hardly resemble a wolf.

Member Honored for Volunteer Service

Terry Goldzier, treasurer and longtime member of the Boston Ethical Community, was honored on April 17, 2016 by the Massachusetts Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired.

Terry was given the Jane Falk Award for Volunteerism for 27 years of service.

Since 1989, Terry has been assisting a visually impaired person with her grocery shopping on alternate weeks.

Terry has been involved in many, many volunteer activities since high school and thinks it is an important thing to do —  “pay it forward”.

“It’s nothing extraordinary.”, Terry says. “People need to help each other if they can. In an ethical community, volunteering is part of one’s life”.

Double Standards

Submitted by Marvin Miller

Marvin MillerThe phrase “double standard” is used to describe having different ethical attitudes toward similar kinds of activity depending on who does the activity.

The phrase is often used with reference to extramarital sexual activity by men and by women. Our language has many words for women who do this, which carry connotations of condemnation and contempt. There are fewer such words for men, with connotations that are less harsh and may include a little envy and admiration. If Hillary Clinton had the same history of well-known extramarital affairs that her husband has, she couldn’t even consider running for president, while if Bill Clinton weren’t prevented by the Constitution from doing so, he could run and probably win.

Edward Locke, 1928-2016

Submitted by Marline Miller

Editor’s note: Ed LoedLockecke, who passed away in March, was a former president of the Ethical Society of Boston.

Ed gave to us in the Boston Ethical Community years and years of love and friendship. If you ever went on a walk with the walking group, which Ed led for some years, you might have heard the frog story.

The Right Side of History

Submitted by Peter Denison

Now that marriage equality has been sanctioned by the Supreme Court, we have read triumphalist calls that we are on the right side of history, with the implication that those on the other side should just desist and accept the inevitable.  I have strong reservations about that statement. Long before it became fashionable, we at Ethical believed that our defense of the LGBTQ was just.  Were we at that time on the wrong side of history?  Should we have given up?  No, when every referendum on the subject was going the other way, we still supported the ethical side.

Charity

marvin-headSubmitted by Marvin Miller

Religions tell people to be charitable. We all constantly get appeals from charities. The tax code offers a deduction for charitable contributions. What are we to think about charity?

Originally charity meant giving to the poor by people who are not poor. It therefore assumes that there are poor and non-poor people. This is true and always has been true, ever since prehistoric times when things became property. In a society characterized by scarcity, as most societies are and have been, it’s necessarily true. But in a society characterized by abundance, which technological advance over the centuries has made possible, this assumption can be called into question.

Our 2016 Humanist of the Year is Professor Juliet Schor

Submitted by Fred Hewett

schor_photoBoston Ethical Community is pleased to announce that Juliet B. Schor of Boston College is the 2016 Humanist of the Year. Schor will accept the award at our meeting on April 10, 2016.

Professor Schor is a professor of Sociology at Boston College in Newton, MA. A graduate of Wesleyan University, Schor received her Ph.D. in economics from the University of Massachusetts. Prior to Boston College, Schor taught in the Department of Economics at Harvard University for 17 years.

Election 2016 – History in the Making

Submitted by Andrea Perrault

election 2016Robert Reich, former U.S. Secretary of Labor under President Bill Clinton, has been burning up the pages of the Huffington Post with his analyses of the current state of politics and the economy in the United States. I must say that his theories seem cogent and plausible.