Category Archives: Editor & Advisors

Editor Deborah Levine and ADR Advisors

Embrace our local-global connections – by Deborah Levine

(Originally published in The Chattanooga Times Free Press)

The recent kerfuffle involving Chinese graduate students speaking in their native language during a break at Duke University underscores our growing hostility towards internationals. The head of a master’s program urged the students to speak and practice English 100%. Even if it’s just private conversations in Chinese, she worried that they’d be overheard and discriminated against for not speaking English. As the controversy exploded, she stepped down as program head while Duke reassured its international students that they were valued.

International students make up 14% of Duke’s class of 2021 and are a substantial revenue source for the university’s revenue, like many of our higher education institutions. It’s not surprising that Duke respects these students’ contribution to their ongoing existence. The university chose not to buy into the current fear and loathing of anything foreign that generates suspicion, dislike, and even violence. There is little to be gained in allowing the negative trends to overcome common sense and the common good.

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The How and Why of Religious Diversity Training- by Deborah Levine

Why does Diversity & Inclusion training include so little instruction in religious diversity? The cultural awareness and cultural competence inherent in D&I are increasingly embraced as the major tools of the global market place of the future. Yet, there is a black hole of information on diverse religions. The silence is surely not due to a lack of interest or visibility. Turn on the TV, open a newspaper, or check the internet and religion pops out as a major issue across the planet. Look at the growing number of EEOC complaints based on religious expression. Yet, the vacuum of expertise in religious diversity exists in most relationship-oriented sectors of our society: business, education, government, and human services. As a result, too few professionals understand how to avoid clashes involving belief systems. How can their  paralyzing sense of being overwhelmed and under-prepared be managed?

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Let America Eat Again – by Deborah Levine

(Originally published in The Chattanooga Times Free Press)

The partial shutdown that President Trump and two branches of government agreed to lift temporarily left thousands of families with no income, with many forced to work without a paycheck, relying on reimbursement in the vague future. Their unemployment and indentured servitude has put a spotlight on their need for the basics of survival. The idea of these families going hungry has affected all of us and the impact is growing. It’s impressive that people are helping them with donations, restaurants are serving free meals, and food pantries are gearing up for waves of new clients. Let’s hope that the generosity and humanity currently on display remains alive and well after the resolution of the shutdown.

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Elephant in the room: Suicide – by Deborah Levine

(Originally published in The Chattanooga Times Free Press)

Of the top stories summing up 2018 and predictions for 2019, few mentioned the escalating rate of suicide. Adjusted for age, the annual U.S. suicide rate increased 24% between 1999 and 2014, the highest rate recorded in 28 years. Yet, despite about 129 suicides per day across the country, the topic remains in the shadows.

You may think that Tennessee is an exception, but we have twice as many suicides than homicides. With a suicide rate well above the national average, suicide is the tenth cause of death in our state. Tennessee averages one suicide every eight hours. And the situation continually worsens. The Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network reports that suicide deaths have steadily increased over the last 35 years since they’ve been monitoring suicide.

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The Powerful Connection of Entrepreneurship and Spirituality — by Deborah Levine

As etnrepreneurs gear up for 2019, let us remember that there are two basic motivations of the entrepreneurial spirit.  The first is the business side of the endeavor and its bottom line, otherwise known as ‘show me the money.’  The second motivation is self-fulfillment.  Some refer to this element of entrepreneurship as ‘personal satisfaction.’  At the core of the vague term ‘personal satisfaction’ is what is best described as a spiritual sense of purpose.  This spirituality is sometimes linked to one’s faith tradition, but is not necessarily so.  Rather, there is a commonality in this spiritual sense that translates across the boundaries of specific religions.  Most importantly, there is tremendous power where this spirituality and business overlap.

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Holocaust Memorial & Inspiration – by Deborah Levine

As a country, we observe Memorial Day by honoring those who have served their country and sacrificed so much. My father was only twenty-two years old as a young soldier in World War II during the Holocaust and on the anniversary of his death a decade ago, I wrote this Memorial Day poem in his honor.

For those who put themselves in harm’s way for their families, friends and country,
For those whose lives were taken in war-torn lands far from home
And for all those who carry the wounds of war proudly and with honor,
Let us say a prayer of thanks and remembrance of courage and of valor.

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Yummy or Yucky – by Deborah Levine

(originally published in The Chattanooga Times Free Press)

We struggle to resist the temptation minute to minute this time of year. It begins with Halloween candy and proceeds to Thanksgiving dinner, exploding with holiday eating extravaganzas with the year’s tastiest foods. By the New Year, the scale shows our over-indulgence. It’s no coincidence that 12% of gym members join in January.

Maybe this year we’ll wake up to the fact that 30 million Americans suffer from the obesity-related disease of diabetes. Did you know that the ten states with the highest rates of type 2 diabetes are here in the South?

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Pandora’s Box of Hate – by Deborah Levine

Editor’s note: this article on anti-Semitism was originally published as an op-ed in The Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Russian President Putin got my attention when he suggested that Jews with Russian citizenship might have interfered in the 2016 US presidential election. “Maybe they’re not even Russians,” said Putin. “Maybe they’re Ukrainians, Tatars, Jews, just with Russian citizenship – even that needs to be checked.” Putin reminded me why my great grandparents made the harrowing journey from Russia and the Ukraine to the United States. My ancestors weren’t the only ones. Between 1881 and 1924, over 2.5 million East European Jews sought to escape the relentless persecution and ghettoization. The slice of history was captured in the movie Fiddler on the Roof, but while Hollywood entertained, it didn’t fully show the history of anti-Semitism in Russia and Eastern Europe, or its ongoing ripple effect.

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Give thanks and Seek peace – by Deborah Levine

(Give thanks, seek peace – originally published in The Chattanooga Times Free Press)

Thanksgiving isn’t just food, family, football, and Black Friday. Not that there’s anything wrong with stuffing yourselves and your loved ones and then heading for the couch and TV or the shopping mall. All are fine American traditions celebrating the abundance in our lives, topped off with delicious left overs. But they seem more removed than ever from the holiday’s intended purpose.

That purpose was demonstrated at the Interfaith Thanksgiving Service held at Pilgrim Congregational Church. We sat in the pews listening to the harmonies of a choir made up of talented congregants from faith groups across the city. The graceful music surrounded and filled us as religious leaders representing Baha’i, Catholic, Humanist, Jewish, Muslim, and Protestant communities offered prayers and poems of gratitude and compassion.

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