July 1, 2015

100 Words -- What’s This Country Coming To?

Donald Trump tried to warn us. Millions of Mexicans are coming to this country looking for honest work. Next thing you know, they’re having kids who will fund the next generation of Social Security. Definitely a problem. And while we’re at it, what’s with the gay marriage thing? At a time when marriage rates have fallen by nearly half, gays are besieging local courts trying to get married the old-fashioned way. Boy, talk about being behind the times. Didn’t they get the memo? Imagine the nerve of those people, thinking they can be like us. What’s this country coming to? 

June 27, 2015

100 Words -- America the Beautiful

America has just passed through a defining moment in its history … at least I hope that’s what it was. The terrible challenge of a senseless hate crime in Charleston was met by a congregation and a city determined to reaffirm the values of love and forgiveness. Two Supreme Court decisions reaffirmed our instincts as a compassionate and caring people and reminded us that America was created to be the tip of history’s spear, not its blunt instrument. We showed we are still a nation that can confront its own worst moments, its own worst instincts and rise above them.

June 19, 2015

100 Words -- Ignorance

Today’s topic is things that have gotten harder to ignore. First is climate change. Pope Francis called out everyone who is turning our planet into an “immense pile of filth.” Next up is weapons in the hands of crazy people. The events in Charleston are, as one concerned white-supremacist wrote, “another nail in the coffin of the Second Amendment.” And finally there’s hate in America, the dark side of the American dream. Yes, it’s harder to ignore these things … but not impossible. We’ve proved that repeatedly. So we’ll keep killing the planet and ourselves. Sometimes ignorance ain’t so blissful.

June 14, 2015

100 Words -- Basic Instinct

I’ve been researching neuroscience, and I came across an article in Salon which quotes a neurosurgeon named Itzhak Fried. He studies the neurological processes that turn ordinary folks into genocidal monsters. Like most of us, he started out thinking that this sort of thing happens when our baser “animal” instincts take over. His research led him to the opposite conclusion, that our higher, more civilized frontal lobe overrides the older, reptilian brain stem. Animals aren’t mass murderers. Our most basic instinct is to live and let live. Somewhere along the evolutionary line, our brains got rewired, with tragic results.

June 4, 2015

100 Words -- The Best and the Brightest?

Here’s who is running for president. For the Republicans: Rick Perry, Lindsey Graham, George Pataki, Rick Santorum, Mike Huckabee, Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, and Ted Cruz are definitely in. Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, Bobby Jindal, John Kasich and Chris Christie are expected to run. For the Democrats: Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Martin O’Malley and Lincoln Chaffee have announced. James Webb is a maybe. Like it or not, one of these candidates will be our next president. If this is the best we can do … well, as Elrond might say, our list of leaders grows thin.

May 22, 2015

100 Words -- Memorial Day Memories

Putting on the heavy band uniform … dreading the heat … trying to walk straight while keeping my eyes focused on the music clipped to my trombone … playing the National Emblem, blaring out the notes … marching to the cemetery and then to the memorial plaque nestled under St. Stephen’s … feeling the heat … the home stretch, from the Common down South Main Street to the American Legion … waiting patiently in line with all the children of the town to get our cup of Hood ice cream … the little wooden spoon … licking the top clean.

May 12, 2015

100 Words -- The Good War

World leaders recently celebrated the 70th anniversary of the surrender of Germany. WWII is often praised as the “Good War.” Some historians might question that. Noble objectives to save Europe got lost in the fog of war. We started out to save Poland, only to let it (and most of Eastern Europe) get gobbled up by Russia. Both sides made killing civilians part of the battle plan. Millions more civilians died than military, entire cities burned to the ground in the name of saving civilization. Even then, the morality of this was questioned. Our generation should be doing the same.