Category Archives: Social Issues

Social causes, activism, and projects

The Courage of the Mystery Man – by Terry Howard

      “… You can call it fate or call it destiny. Sometimes it seems like a mystery. Timing is everything!” ~ Garrett Hedlund

Terry Howard
Terry Howard

Fate? …Destiny? … I cannot explain it.

You see, someone recently sent me a quick read on courageous acts by courageous people. “So, are you trying to tell me something?” I thought to myself while putting the piece aside. Now by coincidence – or destiny? – I remembered that Deborah Levine and Marc Brennan are about to release their long-awaited book, “When Hate Groups March Down Main Street.”

All that said, days later I received the following story from “Mariah,” that provided an opportunity for me to pull all these pieces together:

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Living and Dying – by Deborah Levine

When an anniversary falls on Yom Kippur, the most solemn holy day of the Jewish calendar, thoughts of living and dying take on cosmic proportions.  Fortunately, it’s rare for the two milestones to collide given the differences between the secular and Jewish calendars. Both are celebrations, but Yom Kippur which ends the New Year’s ten Days of Awe, is a sacred time when the celebration of life is combined with contemplation its finite nature. This year, I have a double dose of introspection and my mind sought the path separating living from dying and wandered from wonder and gratitude to mourning and humility.

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Disability Employment Awareness: Five Questions for EEOC – by David B. Grinberg

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). The observance, which dates back to 1945, is sponsored annually by the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Disability Employment Policy.

Did you know? The employment population ratio for people without disabilities (65.7%) was more than triple that of people with disabilities (18.7%) in 2017, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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Religion-based bullying: causes, dangers, solutions – by Sam Chester

Bullying can be based on various things. A person, most likely, a school student, might find themselves bullied by others because of their race, gender, sexuality, appearance, academic or athletic performance, personality, and other aspects of their identity.

A solution to the problem as complex as this one must be equally comprehensive. Today, however, I would like to tackle but one element of this problem: religion-based bullying.

Roots of faith-based bullying

Religion-based bullying is a horrible trend that is still going strong in our schools. It happens both in the physical world and online and shows no signs of stopping. It would be preposterous for us to blame it exclusively on children, equally as preposterous as to turn a blind eye to it.

Children, indeed, seldom have a strong understanding of religion: spirituality usually requires some life experience. Children are even less likely to be interested in the small differences between various faiths and creeds.

They can, however, and often are conscripted by grown-ups into the hate of the different. It is our instinct, after all, to fear and distrust “them” who are opposed to “us”. An instinct that goes counter to the ideals of diversity, sure, but still remains an instinct. And as it is with instincts, it can be easily exploited when there is little understanding or willpower.

It is us, the adults, who fuel this instinct in kids. What we say to them or around them doesn’t need to be downright offensive. A little biased comment here. A slightly derisive one there.

And it all builds up into a structure of oppression.

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The Online Spaces of the Final Generation – by Samantha Boucher

“The Final Generation”

Some refer to Generation Z – those born, roughly, from the mid-1990s onward – as ‘The Final Generation’. This is not due to some apocalyptic vision of the future, but rather as a reflection of the nature of culture in online spaces.

The Final GenerationIn previous generations, it could be reasonably assured that a monoculture would develop. Because of the nature of the distribution of media and the limited ways in which it could be communicated, entire generations of youth would grow up with roughly the same cultural experiences – watching the same shows and cartoons, consuming the same film and radio programs.

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Two Letters – taking a stand! – by Terry Howard

As sheer coincidence would have it, I’d just finished rereading Dr. King’s famous “Letter from A Birmingham Jail” when the following excerpts of a letter from my good friend “Shirley” popped up in my email:
Dear Pastor, I first want to say that I have benefitted from your sermons since I have been a part of your congregation. I, however, have some concerns that prompted me to write to you. I know that my political beliefs aren’t necessarily in line with a large portion of the congregation. I knew that when I first started worshipping here but I didn’t perceive it to be a concern. I believed this to be true because I try to look at people and issues and determine the best course of action based upon all that I hear, read, observe and analyze. Based on that process, I pray that I know what is the most prudent to address and decisions to make.  

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Asian Americans Must Vote for Inclusion- by Celeste Chen

When they first came to America, my parents, now Asian Americans, lived in a cramped apartment, first in New York, and then in Boston. My father likes to recount stories of how he would have to make multiple treks in the middle of New England snowstorms to buy diapers because they didn’t have enough money for bus fare.

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Muslim Niqab in America – By Claire Sydenham

Last semester I went through an experience I’d never gone through before in my teaching career: I taught a student whose face I couldn’t see. The reason? She was from Saudi Arabia, and she was wearing a niqab, that part of her all-black outfit that covered her face from the bridge of the nose down.

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Assembling our Time Capsule for Aliens – by Martin Kimeldorf

What would it mean to unlock the mysteries of both the visible and invisible dark night skies? In Matthew Bothwell’s article Monsters in the Dark, the Cambridge astronomer eloquently and patiently explains the invisible monster galaxies uncovered by the Hubble Space Craft’s long-exposure images. Relying on infrared light exposures, the new imagery penetrates the cosmic dust barriers to reveal in his words: a “vibrant cosmic powerhouses in the distant Universe” engaged in active star-making.

Bothwell admits that we don’t know why these massive galaxies even exist. The spiritual-cosmological questions that follow could sound like these: “What forces bring them into existence?” “Why do they die?” and most profoundly, “Why, or what purpose do they serve?” This busy star-nursery also fosters questions about our own existence back here on Earth and to what degree are we alone in the universe.

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