Category 2. Personal Perspectives/Faith

A Draft Speech for Tonight

Good evening, and again, thank you for being here.

I have been a supporter of the Connecticut Cycling Advancement Program – CCAP – since day one, and I thought I would take a couple of minutes to tell you why that’s so.

Like most of you, I am both an avid cyclist and a parent. In the latter role, I have watched the effects of changing technologies and social circumstances on our children. In my view, nowadays most young people spend more time than is good for them surfing the net or on social media rather than playing or competing with each other outdoors.

Schools typically support only 5 or 6 sports, and those sports necessarily involve only a small minority of students...

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A Mistake

For something new and different, I thought I would write about a mistake I made in raising my children.

Now, don’t get me wrong – I adore my children. They have all grown into perfectly wonderful adults. The mistake I made casts no shadow on their judgement – but it’s still worth spelling out.

When our brood was young, the Beloved Spouse stayed home to care for them (and for me!); my designated role was to be the provider of financial resources. These roles worked well for us. The Beloved Spouse was a splendid mother, and I was always very proud that I was able to stay one step ahead of the ever-increasing costs of providing what my mother once described as “all of the necessities and some of the luxuries”. My ability to do so made me a success in my own eyes...

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Where Freedom Comes From

Religion comes first.

Whatever faith each of us has, consciously or otherwise, doesn’t so much define how we see ourselves as encapsulate it. We may or may not believe in God as described by one of the major religions, or even have our own clear conceptions of what He is, but we live our lives by one or another of various possible frameworks of understanding that enable us to get out of bed in the morning. Some of those frameworks help us set better patterns of living than others. We judge ourselves by these yardsticks.

We also accord others rights, and expect them ourselves, based on the same frameworks. Other people are either to be treated as being of equal moral worth in our eyes and those of God, or they are not...

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Roles

What I do with my time matters much less to my family than it once did because our children are grown. This new-ish status of theirs is something to be celebrated (“Every adult is a miracle” – my mother-in-law), but it is also a downgrade in the importance of my previously central roles in life, provider and father. My grandchildren are far more of a pleasure to me than a responsibility – their parents quite properly bear those weights. My Beloved Spouse is in great shape, thank you very much, and not in need – or, if I am honest with myself, in want – of my constant ministrations.

So who will I be other than the guy who was who I have been?

In my own mind, and I trust in fact, I am too young and healthy to be retired in the traditional sense, resting from my labors and savoring th...

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Small Miracles

Have you ever considered what an absolute miracle it is that you exist?

I don’t mean that life exists – I accept that when the right molecules are present with, oh I don’t know, electricity and the right atmospheric circumstances, the process that leads to life becomes a possibility, so if all those elements are present at enough times on enough planets, it’ll happen – I mean you, the person who is reading this blog post. You know, the one with particular (and, unless you are an identical twin, unique) DNA, who was raised in circumstances that only you know about, many of which were effectively random, and who is probably just now wondering: where’s he going with this? You.

Even ignoring the particulars, up to and including the innumerable times when your life might have ended ...

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An Apologia for Civil Horizon

We sometimes don’t know why we do what we do; we may even hold tight to perspectives about our motivations that others – or even we ourselves – will later rightly conclude did not reflect reality.

For a poignant example, consider the Civil War. Most of the soldiers in blue fought to save the union as, initially, did President Lincoln; though he hated slavery, Lincoln saw the possible dissolution of the union as a more immediate evil. And if, in 1860, he had issued a call for volunteers to fill an army to eradicate slavery, few would have signed up.

Reciprocally, in most of their minds, the Confederates fought to defend their states against ‘the War of Northern Aggression’ under the banner of states’ rights – the theory being that if a state could freely join the union, it could surely ...

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A Conversation with a Young Lady

Last night, prior to a board meeting, the trustees of Harlem Academy met with the school’s soon-to-be-graduating eighth grade class. The marvelous young lady with whom I spoke at some length will be heading off to a school in Massachusetts next year; she hopes to become a physician some day.

She asked me to explain why I work with this school, and why on a voluntary basis. Her attitude was one of genuine, polite curiosity.

I told her that the idea that everybody should have a chance to accomplish important things is one of the noblest characteristics of our country – it’s one of the values that bring us together. We are a nation of strivers, and fervent believers in merit.

Harlem Academy provides bright young people from underprivileged, inner-city backgrounds with a truly first class e...

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Letter to a Progressive Minister

First, thank you for the beautiful job you did christening my grandson. You have a wonderful manner and that part of the service was as warm and inspiring as was his parents’ splendid wedding ceremony last year.

Unfortunately, I came away from your sermon thinking that the call to action that you clearly hoped would provide inspiration to your flock was instead a manifestation of the very narrow-mindedness and unwillingness to put yourself into the shoes of others that ails our society.

The implication was clear that you believe that Trump’s supporters showed bigotry or ignorance or both. With righteous anger, you preached to your own choir. For the reasons detailed below, I differ.

***

To begin, the litany of alleged Trump sins that you cited was beneath you.

For example, you stated a...

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Under a Steel-Gray Sky

Two days ago I slipped in some mud while carrying my kayak up a hill. I caught myself, but in doing so I seem to have hurt something deep in my right shoulder. Since then the right side of my torso has ached.

This morning, at the suggestion of my Beloved Spouse, I went outside to sit in the hot tub by our pool. I am not really a hot tub guy – I have probably used it a dozen times in as many years – but she thought the heat and bubble jets might help lessen my shoulder pain.

So I sat in the steaming water under a steel-gray sky; to my surprise, my thoughts turned to an old friend.

***

Doug and I went to boarding school together. We got to know each other through rowing; he was a big, athletic guy – a gentle giant. Though we were two years apart, we became fast friends.

For we were n...

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A Grand Day

A little over thirty years ago, while my wife was in labor with our first child, my in-laws sat in the hospital’s waiting room for seemingly endless hours. Every so often I would go downstairs to inform them about the slow increases in the tempo of the contractions that were leading us toward the big event. My father-in-law greeted my every appearance with nervous pacing; I had the confidence of youth.

I spent most of that day with my wife, feeling largely extraneous to a process that had its own rhythm. Oh I could provide her with moral support, but the reality was that my role was minimal. Mother nature had taken charge; my wife’s body was doing the work.

Eventually, our older daughter arrived in a crescendo of pain and excitement that is like no other experience in life.

***

I used to j...

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