Welcome to my blog, and really to the blog that belongs to any and all of you who are both deeply concerned, but still hopeful, about the predicament in which we find ourselves today–in our country and in the world. I’ve decided to call this blog “promoting curiosity and justice in trying times.” Certainly, the times are trying, arguably more so than when Thomas Paine wrote in 1776, “These are the times that try men’s souls.” There is a growing disparity in wealth, resources and power between the have’s, and both those who “have-a-little-but-less-and-less” and the have-not’s–in the US, and of course throughout the world. There is the growing disaster of global warming and enviromental destruction. The list goes on. And, the mainstream media, not just Fox News, is less and less inclined to feature news stories that challenge the existing power structure or which represent the kind of out of the box thinking necessary to solving these deepening problems.
This blog is written in the spirit of WISR’s founding principles and the commitments and wisdom of the many students, faculty and alumni with whom and from whom I have been fortunate to learn since WISR’s beginnings in 1975. This spirit includes a strong sense of curiosity and inquisitiveness, and a belief that we can potentially learn much from people in all walks of life. And yet, we also know that “mob-think” and media manipulation can bring out our worst impulses and blunt curiosity and inquiry.
Like WISR, this blog will be an effort to spark curiosity, fuel inquiry, and mobilize action and create hope. Also like WISR, its aims include promoting democratic participation, social and economic justice, multiculturality, the urgency for environmental sustainability, and the modesty and curiosity to continue to inquire and learn from and with others.
Contrary to the one-dimensional portrait of the American Revolution by “Tea Party” activists, there are other traditions that are worthy of emulation. One such example is Thomas Paine, who wrote and disseminated ideas that countered the dominating declarations of the British loyalists. However, he did not simply protest taxation by the British empire. He was one of the first anti-slavery advocates. He believed in the importance, and indeed, the necessity, of engaging all people in the creation of a democracy. He respected the wisdom of indigenous people, and more particularly he learned from the Iroquois people such key lessons as living in harmony with nature and organizing society for democratic particpation. [ see for example: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Paine ] So, when anyone today says we should follow the principles of our country’s founders, we should be sure to ask, which ones among those early citizens had ideals and actions that are worthy of our attention and curiosity?
Comments are encouraged from anyone who wishes to discuss this blog’s topics in a spirit of curiosity and inquisitiveness. Strong opinions and disagreements are welcome, even indignation and “righteous” anger, but comments must be civil and respectful of others in order to be published. WISR has a long and proud tradition of enrolling students from varied cultural backgrounds and life experiences. To be sure, WISR has attracted a very high percentage of people who might be characterzed as “progressive” or “liberal”; however, comments from people of all political persuasions are enthusiastically welcome, especially if they are submitted in the spirit of inquistiveness, rather than primarily to spawn hate and fear among people. This blog seeks to nurture the emotions of curiosity and empathy, as creative alternatives to the destructive emotions of fear and hate. Furthermore, we hope to promote a search for justice. and although there are many reasonable versions of justice, the Golden Rule provides one pretty good “first appoximation”–“Do Unto Others as You Would Have Other Do Unto You.”