• communication,  education,  how do we know what we know is true,  meaning of life,  politics

    Interacting with those we disagree with

    What do you do with people you don’t agree with? Do you agree to keep quiet about the topics you disagree on? Do you cut them out of your life? Or keep them in your life but with a mental note not to take seriously any of their opinions? Do you argue incessantly? These questions permeate my life. Perhaps it is because I hold strong opinions about things. I care about a great variety of issues which means I have lots I could potentially disagree with people on. I notice subtle implications of things so I disagree with things other people think mundane.  Yet I think another reason the questions…

  • books,  communication,  culture,  meaning of life,  politics

    Personal Responsibility in the Age of Unlimited Choices

    Have you ever heard of “cafeteria religion”? The term refers to the idea of people treating religion like a buffet table where they can pick and choose what parts they want rather than accept someone else’s menu. It is an idea I’ve had trouble with for a while. On one hand I can see definite problems with the pick-and-choose idea. How can truth be truth if the measure of it is what you want to accept or not? On the other hand, what’s the alternative? Even those who belong to reasonably strict churches or religions are just following the beliefs someone else has chosen to dish-up. With so many religious…

  • meaning of life,  politics,  the ethical life

    Day to day life and looking at the larger issues too

    This weekend I took one son to beaver camp. Then later at home we set up our Christmas tree and sang Christmas carols. This morning the boys did some schoolwork and then played lego. My daughter took an early nap. Then with all the children occupied, I turn my attention to other things. One of the environmental organizations I really like is asking people to help advertise their facebook page. The organization, Citizen’s Climate Lobby Canada, focuses on creating the political will that allows politicians to enact the policies we need, such as a carbon fee and dividend. Clicking “like” on their facebook page is a very small quick thing people can do…

  • books,  communication,  meaning of life,  money,  politics,  the ethical life

    safety, efficiency, cost of human lives and work

    My children watched part of Back to the Future III a few days ago and afterwards expressed surprise at the amount of walking on train tracks that happens in the show. “Isn’t that dangerous?” they asked and I fumbled to explain how the absolute risk wasn’t that high but that it was still a completely unnecessary risk, and thus why we don’t do it. Then I was watching an episode of Star Trek Deep Space 9 and noting the scenes where the two kids, Jake and Nog, are always sitting on the balcony above the promenade, dangling their legs down, and all I could think of watching it is, why…

  • communication,  meaning of life,  Occupy,  the ethical life

    trying to understand yesterday

    Even in my sleep I over analyze things. The other night I dreamed that I was a government bureaucrat for the Nazis. In my dream I knew I had a choice between getting myself thrown into a prison camp right away for standing up for what I knew was right, or I could try to survive in the job and use my position to help others. In my dream I didn’t feel fear for myself, just a question of what would be best for others. After all, I thought, the job would be done by someone and if I was doing it maybe I could help smuggle Jewish families out…

  • culture,  history,  meaning of life

    What to remember on Remembrance Day?

    Remembrance Day and its American counterpart, Veterans’ Day, are coming up soon. November 11th is a tricky holiday where on one hand I’m not comfortable with the idea of glorifying war and on the other hand I want to acknowledge the risk soldiers have taken and the sacrifices they, and their families, have made. This year my thoughts are shaped largely by the book  A War of Individuals: Bloomsbury Attitudes to the Great War by Jonathan Atkin. The picture of the war I gain through that book is of a war that whole countries felt drawn into. It wasn’t sending off their soldiers, it was sending off their young. Sacrifices were made by…

  • bullying,  meaning of life,  the ethical life

    Your Opinion of Me Is None of My Business. Except when it is.

    I remember as a teenager reading the line “your opinion of me is none of my business” and really liking it. Naturally I’ve never lived up to it. I’ve always cared what others think about me, but at least it is something to strive towards. I like that line partly because it doesn’t demand that the other person’s opinion be good. It doesn’t say “don’t judge me.” The other person is free to judge, but that judgement is their business and not mine. I was at The Feminist Breeder’s facebook page a few days ago. I shouldn’t go there. She was posting about how sick she and her daughter are, and…

  • books,  communication,  culture,  God,  meaning of life,  the ethical life

    A book about the Harry Potter books, and the many questions they invoke.

    My current light-reading is the book Harry Potter and the Bible: The Menance behind the Magick by Richard Abanes. In some ways it is a very weird book for me to read because I do not share the author’s conservative Christian religious beliefs. Why then should I concern myself with the criticisms he has of Harry Potter based on those religious beliefs? I am drawn to the book for the chance to see a little window into the ideas of others. How does his understanding of the Bible effect his understanding of Harry Potter? How does his understanding of Harry Potter help me understand my own views of the world? Much of the book ends…

  • books,  communication,  meaning of life,  religion

    Challenges of Communication

    Many Moons is a children’s story by James Thurber. Princess Lenora is sick and only being granted her wish will cure her. What does she wish for? The moon! Advisor after advisor described how much they have already accomplished for the king and why they can’t get the moon for him. Only the jester has the answer; noting that each advisor describes a different moon he suggests that they ask Princess Lenora what she thinks the moon is. Her moon is neither rock nor green cheese. It is golden, about the size of her fingernail, fairly easy for them to procure for her but will she mind that the other moon…

  • meaning of life,  religion,  the ethical life

    "Is everything okay mom?"

    “Is everything okay mom?” my sensitive little guy asks me after doing something he knows is wrong. He sounds really upset, so I say yes, everything is okay. We can clean up the mess. This continues over and over for a few days till I stop and say, no, it isn’t okay. Yes, we can clean up the mess, but I don’t want to have to keep doing that. The messes and problems my children cause are really not all that serious, yet they bring to light a difficult skill and that is the need to be able to maintain a sense of things being alright while acknowledging that something isn’t…