- It is hard for any liberal
- (particularly a lawyer) to not contemplate the possibilities upon learning that Associate Justice Antonin Scalia has died in the middle of a court term. I have publicly criticized Justice Scalia in writing and in talks that I have presented. I particularly abhor certain statements that he has made regarding the death penalty.
Yet, I bristle at seeing so many rejoice in his death. Justice Scalia was a human being. And, notwithstanding my disagreement with most of his stances, he was a public servant. He dedicated his life to jurisprudence, and he effectively and enthusiastically advocated (and as a Supreme Court Justice, implemented) his honestly held views.
That does not make him an evil person. Does anyone seriously believe that he acted with evil intent? Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg certainly does not. She and Scalia were extremely close personal friends. Surely, she is in a better position to judge his intentions than anyone outside of the Court.
Let us be gracious in our view of those with whom we disagree, even as we are zealous in our diagreement.
I first became interested in classic Stoicism after reading Massimo Pigliucci’s column in the New York Times earlier this year. Stoicism is a philosophy of life that is compatable with many world views, both theistic and atheistic. I find that it blends well with my own Humanist lifestance. Contrary to popular opinion, Stoicism does not entail suppressing all emotions – although it does offer techniques that enable practitioners to constructively deal with negative emotions.
The main focus of Stoic philosophy is on meditation, mindfulness, and the classic virtues (Wisdom, Courage, Justice, and Temperance). It is similar in many respects to Buddhist teachings, but it is firmly grounded in the Western philosophical tradition.
Modern Stoicism is experiencing something of a resurgence, as philosophers and medical health professionals are combining efforts to bring the benefiits of Stoicism to a larger audience. The interest of the mental health community is no accident, for Stoicism is the philosophical root of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy, which are considered to be among the most effective treatments for depression and a wide variety of other mental disorders.
Every year, the Stoicism Today project conducts a free “Stoic Week” to introduce people to Stoic practice and to test the benefits that that Stoic practice brings to the participants. There is no charge for enrollment, but participants are asked to participate in a brief survey both before and after the program so that the organizers can study the results of the program.
As Massimo Pigliucci stated in his column, “Stoicism is simply another path some people can try out in order to develop a more or less coherent view of the world, of who they are, and of how they fit in the broader scheme of things.” While I don’t think that Stoic practice is right for everyone, I believe that many would benefit tremendously from exploring these ancient techniques. If you’re curious, I suggest that you check out Stoic Week to learn more. It starts on November 2, but there is still time to register.
Millions watched a video of an intoxicated UConn student last week. He has now posted a public apology.
If you watched the Macaroni video, watch the apology.
If you shared the Macaroni video, share the apology.
If you gossiped about the Macaroni video, tell people about the apology.
If you have every wondered what your life would be like if your worst moment were captured on video and seen by millions, then stand aside when others are awash in an orgy of public shaming.
If you are grateful that you have not been defined by something that you did when you were 19 years old, intoxicated, or both, then remember that before you judge someone else.
Videos are snapshots. They do not capture the entirety of a person, particularly someone so young.
“Humanists are especially eager. They claim Sagan as their own, and see in the “Cosmos” series — a multipart journey to the outer reaches of our universe — and in his dozen books a vibrant strain of their own philosophy. That philosophy favors reason over religion and holds human beings as both good and responsible for the Earth’s plight.”
Regardless of whether one believes that our desire to be good comes from God or from our evolutionary past, Humanists and theists can work together to build a more just society. They can work together to help alleviate poverty, hunger, and suffering. They can work together to protect and sustain our planet. And, together, they can find happiness and fulfillment in the effort. –
My Hartford Faith & Values blog is up – and I’m not saying nice things about Bill Nye’s decision to debate Ken Ham at the Creation Museum.
A group of Hartford Area Humanists recently met in a member’s home on a snowy morning for a group conversation about death and bereavement. This gathering was part of Hartford Area Humanists’ ongoing discussion on “Rational Spirituality.” While many Humanists eschew any mention of spirituality, dismissing it as supernatural “woo-woo” unworthy of serious discussion, others embrace spirituality as a natural human phenomenon that is not dependent upon anything supernatural. These “rational spiritualists” seek to live a happier and more fulfilling life by exploring the deeper aspects of being human.
Sandy Hook Elementary School. Image courtesy of HartfordFAVs
It was no coincidence that we discussed death and bereavement on the first anniversary of the Sandy Hook shootings. Tragedies such as Sandy Hook raise difficult questions for Humanists. In the weeks after Sandy Hook, New York Times columnist Samuel Freedman pointedly asked “where were the humanists?”, noting that, while Humanist and other secular groups raised money and held anti-gun rallies, there was no visible Humanist presence offering solace to the victims’ families. Atlanta Page, a Christian blogger writing in Examiner.com, declared that Humanists have nothing to offer the bereaved in the wake of such tragedies, arguing that only faith in a loving God and belief in an afterlife can sooth those facing the otherwise unbearable grief of lives taken too soon. Ms. Page argues that, while the Humanist stance that people should find meaning and purpose during our lives may be work well when celebrating the end of a long and rich life, that approach is inadequate in responding to the tragic and violent death of children.
Implicit in the accusation that Humanism has nothing to offer the bereaved is the assumption that the Humanist worldview is not an effective way of dealing with tragedy.