Archive for the ‘progressives’ Category

The opportunity to fail–the best gift we can give our children

Tuesday, January 9th, 2018

Mo Issa writes:

My parents gave me love, and lots of it, but often faltered in giving me direction. However, the best gift they gave me was the opportunity to fail, and then learn from those failures.

That opportunity not only made me stronger, but also instilled in me a sense of responsibility and independence that has helped me in every aspect of my life.

I look at today’s generation and sense a mood of entitlement. They expect things to be done for them. They shun responsibility and avoid making decisions.

After reading Jessica Lahey’s bestselling book, The Gift of Failure, and with much reflection on my own parenting over the years, I wish I could get my kids back for another four years (yes, I miss them that much!) so that I could change my ways.

I was trying my best as a parent and thought I was a great father. On reflection, however, many factors affected my parenting, not least of which was ego and and a pull to acquiesce to society’s norms.

Do we want our kids to get the top grades, get onto the varsity soccer team, and be around the most popular people because of us—or them? How do we define what is “best” for them, anyway? Is it not based on our criteria and values, rather than theirs?

When we impose our likes, dislikes, and values on our kids, we rob them of their individuality and their own experiences. As Lahey says, “When parents try to engineer failure out of kids’ lives, the kids feel incompetent, incapable, unworthy of trust and utterly dependent.” They are, she argues, unprepared when, “failures that happen out there, in the real world, carry far higher stakes.”

I love the title of her book—The Gift of Failure—because learning how to navigate failure really is the greatest gift that we can bequeath our children. Especially when we also give them our undivided love and complete support.

Through failure, they will learn life-long lessons they could never learn otherwise.


The Fundamentalist Christian Chokehold On America

Saturday, September 30th, 2017

The fundamentalist chokehold on American politics seeks to destroy the religious and cultural plurality on which the country, and the Declaration of Independence, was based. These theological divisions – which pit believers against non-believers, and those who believe correctly against those who don’t – are a major contributor to America’s sharply divided politics. When someone believes he or she holds absolute truth, there can be no compromise, no middle ground, and no discussion.

Fundamentalism – Christian, Islam, or any other religious ideology – is the antithesis of progression. Fundamentalism’s dangerous anti-science stance threatens the world’s environment, reduces the efficacy of American education, and leaves citizens unprepared for life in a global economy. Fundamentalism is shrouded in ignorance, backed by authoritarianism, and places an enormous amount of trust in individual leaders. To free us of the religious chokehold, citizens must recognize, and actively vote against the powerful political machine of the Fundamentalist Christian right.


The World Roger Ailes Made

Saturday, June 3rd, 2017

Ailes started with the story he wanted told, and bent everything within his formidable reach to tell it that way. He did so without apology, without qualms.

The result was what we have today: A society inured to lying, where truth is in the eye of the beholder, where being loud and vehement is the same as being correct. Technology helps spread fake news around, but Ailes made it normal, made it acceptable, to believe what one wanted to believe.

Now we are seeing a bit of a bounce back of the traditional values of journalism: getting facts right, digging beneath the surface — particularly in print. That’s heartening but it has to last, and it has to grow. We have to see a commitment from the mainstream media, and broadcast media in particular, to take on Fox News and fake news directly, to call a lie what it is and to refuse to cover the latest Twitter rant even if the ranter is our president.


Annie Kagan writes

Tuesday, November 24th, 2015

Dear Thomas,

I’ve been stressed out lately. The news is daunting; terror attacks, families fleeing war torn countries, the environmental mess.

In my book, The Afterlife of Billy Fingers, How My Bad-Boy Brother Proved To Me There’s Life After Death, my brother Billy teaches how to better navigate life on planet Earth. Amazingly, Billy began sharing this wisdom with me a few weeks after he died. Two years of our conversations are recorded in our book.

One thing Billy says is;
People spend lots of time on things that make them unhappy. To cultivate joy, pay attention to what you like.

So, with all the disturbance happening on Earth, I made a list of things Billy says can soothe the soul.

The light, colors, scents and sounds of the natural world bring pleasure to and heal the senses. Walking in the forest, planting a garden, or simply feeling the warmth of the sun on your face, help you tune to the miracle of creation.

Many spiritual paths promote the concept of gratitude. Saying “thank you” may be simpler than trying to feel grateful. Saying thank you to all the things that please you, silently or out loud, helps you notice the grace in your life. Thank you is an easy step down the road toward gratitude.

Take time every day to admire something of beauty. Beauty is evocative; it awakens something deep inside and transcends the noise and static of the world. Beauty reminds you of the awe at the heart of life itself.

Singing, dancing and listening to music connects you to the special pleasure of being alive. Have favorite songs on standby to enhance your mood or change it. Some music could be bright and upbeat, some slow and melancholy, some designed for healing. Melody and rhythm turn the ordinary into the magical.

A change in perspective is powerful. According to Quantum physics, the way you see things can actually change them. If something upsets or frightens you, look for what you like about it. When it comes to people, focus on their deep voice, their sparkling eyes, their quick smile, their unique wit. When someone senses positivity coming their way, they may respond in kind.

Joy comes from doing what we love simply for the pleasure of it. Keep a journal, learn to surf, sing in a choir, bake bread, plant a garden, feed the birds. Everything you do doesn’t have to lead to an outcome. The doing can be its own reward.
© 2015 annie kagan

With Love
Your friends
Billy Fingers
Annie Kagan
From the Cosmos

Abraham Lincoln’s respect for life extended from humanity to all creatures

Friday, April 17th, 2015

Lincoln was like more than a few of us whose pets have run of the house these days: He also left to those friends the dog’s favorite horsehair sofa on which to nap, as well as a long, specific list of rules for how Fido was to be treated during his waking hours. For example, Fido was not to be scolded if he came inside with muddy paws, and he was to be fed from the dinner table.

Lincoln’s attitudes and relationships with animals were in some ways ahead of their time. Matthew Algeo, author of the new book, Abe & Fido: Lincoln’s Love of Animals and the Touching Story of His Favorite Canine Companion, paints a picture of Lincoln as a deeply compassionate and empathetic person, whose respect for life extended from his fellow men all the way down to the smallest creatures.



The Key To Closing The Income Gap Is An Idea Almost Nobody Is Talking About

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015

From the article:

When industrialized countries fail to ensure inclusive prosperity, people stop trusting that hard work and careful planning will provide personal reward. The breakdown of that basic tenet of the social contract creates not just economic harm, the authors write, but “political alienation, a loss of social trust, and increasing conflict across the lines of race, class, and ethnicity.”

The decline of inclusive prosperity in the decades since World War II has brought threats to the democratic ideal of self-ruling pluralistic societies. As a result, “advocates and apologists for anti-democratic regimes argue that the democracies are no longer capable of managing their problems or creating a sense of social dynamism.” As with other grand economic transition periods such as the New Deal era and the tech boom of the 1990s, the commissioners write, policymakers in today’s industrialized world must navigate huge changes brought on by globalization and technology in ways that do not leave huge swathes of the populace behind — or the consequences could be far worse than the elevated economic strain and declining trust in public institutions that capitalist democracies face today.


Thomas Ramey Watson is an affiliate faculty member of Regis University's College of Professional Studies. He has served as an Episcopal chaplain (lay), trained as a psychotherapist, done postdoctoral work at Cambridge University, and was named a Research Fellow at Yale University.

In addition to his scholarly writings, he is a published author of poetry and fiction.