If You Watched the UConn Macaroni Kid Video, Watch This

Gatti

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.

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Humanists Thinking of Carl Sagan as New “Cosmos” Series About To Debut

“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.”

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Time for a Fair Wage Certification

Thousands of protesters gathered yesterday at Wal-Marts throughout the country.  They targeted our largest retailer on the busiest shopping day of the year to make a point: there are not enough hours in the week for many Americans to earn a living wage at the low wages paid by many companies.  Wal-mart earned about $17 billion in profits last year, yet the average Wal-Mart employee requires about $2,000/year in public assistance.  Taxpayers subsidize Wal-Mart’s payroll, because they are not paying workers a living wage.

Yes, the minimum wage needs to be raised.  But, that is going to take time in the current political climate.  In the meantime, consumers should support businesses that pay their employees decent wages.  Companies like Trader Joe’s, Costco, and Quicktrip have won recognition by paying higher than industry averages.  They have proven that paying a living wage can be a profitable strategy, because there is less turnover and better performance when employees are paid and treated well. 

Wages will rise when more businesses realize that paying a living wage is good for business. And, more businesses will get that message when consumers spend their money at stores and restaurants that that treat their employees fairly.  We have Fair Trade certifications for coffee and chocolate. Why not a “Fair Wage” certification for businesses?  The cost of a drive-through lunch wouldn’t be that much higher if the folks who prepared were paid a few bucks an hour more than a typical McDonald’s employee.  In Connecticut, the Wal-Mart protesters focused on a store in Avon because, according to one of the organizers, “this is a fairly wealthy area of the state, surrounded by wealthy towns, and these are a lot of people that have financial choice to shop somewhere else.”   

Many consumers do have a financial choice on where we shop  It would be a great help if we had better information so that we could meaningfully exercise that choice.  Fair Wage Certification would help consumers separate the Costcos from the Wal-Marts.  

 

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Toys for (Christian) Tots

The American Humanist Association’s Appignani Legal Center is threatening to sue public schools that are participating in a program run by Frank Graham’s “Samaritan’s Purse” group to collect toys and distribute them to needy kids.  Nothing wrong that that by itself – that is praiseworthy and noble.  But, the gifts come with a string – the kids are given “Pledges to Christianity” to sign.  Worse yet, the parents and kids that donated the gifts were often in the dark about the Christianity Pledges.

Isn’t it ironic that Frank Graham named his group “Samaritan’s Purse”?  In biblical times, the Samaritans practiced their religion differently and were despised by the Jews for being different. The whole point of Parable of the Good Samaritan is that people of different beliefs are worthy and capable of doing good.

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A SMART Approach to Recovery

Starting this month, I will be writing for the Hartford Faith & Values blog. My first contribution, which is today’s lead story, discusses efforts by Humanist groups to help establish SMART Recovery meetings in Connecticut. SMART Recovery is a science-based program that has been demonstrated to be effective in combating alcoholism and substance addiction.

How Humanists Are Good Without God

Yesterday, I was honored to be the guest at Unitarian Universalist Society: East in Manchester, CT to present the sermon.  The topic was “How Humanists Are Good Without God”.  About 180 people were present, including a nice contingent from Hartford Area Humanists.  It was a wonderful experience for me, and the reaction from the Congregation was quite positive.  Quite a few mentioned that they had not previously understood what Humanism was about.

Below is the text of the written version of the sermon.  This is quite a distance from what I actually said.  I hope to get a recording of the actual sermon soon.

UU East Address FINAL