Beyond Coronavirus

It goes without saying that these are difficult times, and a lot of people are suffering.  It’s important to keep that in mind, and for each of us to do our best to help in whatever ways we can.  It’s also important to keep in mind that this interruption in business-as-usual offers possibilities for imaginingContinue reading “Beyond Coronavirus”

The Optimism of Uncertainty

Every January for the past several years I’ve joined activists in front of the White House to protest the indefinite detention of 40 Muslim men at the Guantanamo Bay detention center.  This year, January 11 marked the 18th anniversary of the prison’s opening. I took the train to Washington in January with a mixture ofContinue reading “The Optimism of Uncertainty”

Self-Compassion It

I was in a meeting at the Pentagon recently, seated at a table surrounded by uniformed military officers and dark-suited government officials. The meeting was tense, with the officials all insisting the Defense Department was doing the right thing and I and my colleagues from other human rights organizations pointing to our evidence that inContinue reading “Self-Compassion It”

War and Peace

To escape the news recently, I’ve been immersing myself in 19th Century novels, and one theme keeps coming across: the destructive human obsession with social status. In Tolstoy’s War and Peace, for example, Prince Andrew Bolkonski, infatuated with dreams of glory, leaves his young pregnant wife and family to join the military. As he chargesContinue reading “War and Peace”

Time Out

I’ve written almost nothing on this blog since the inauguration of Donald Trump. Partly I think it’s because I’ve been so outwardly focused – fixated on the daily, minute-by-minute news of the disturbing, twisted, often absurd machinations of this new administration that I haven’t taken the time to stop and think much. When I have,Continue reading “Time Out”

On Staying Hopeful

Last week was tough. Not just because many of us were returning to work after a holiday break, but for anyone who works in social justice advocacy, the air is thick with fear, apprehension, lingering shock and disappointment. What will this new administration bring?  So far, the signs are ominous. I was reading through newsContinue reading “On Staying Hopeful”

No Expectations

There’s a classic zen story that goes like this: A young man approached a great master and asked to become his student. The student asked the master: “How long will it take me to become a master?” “15 years,” replied the master. “So long?” asked the young man, looking disappointed. The master reconsidered. “Well, inContinue reading “No Expectations”

Separating the Normal from the Natural

I’m getting ready to head out on a 7-day silent meditation retreat, and I’ve been feeling a little weird about it. So I really appreciated coming across Paul Graham’s essay, The Acceleration of Addictiveness, which in large part explains why I’m doing this. A computer programmer and founder of the startup funder Y Combinator, GrahamContinue reading “Separating the Normal from the Natural”

What Would You Do If Nobody Knew?

When thinking about what to do with our lives, it’s easy to get sidetracked by the idea of doing something, rather than how we’d enjoy the experience of doing the thing itself. I loved the idea of being a public interest litigator when I got out of law school, for example, but it turned out IContinue reading “What Would You Do If Nobody Knew?”

On “The Habits of Highly Cynical People”

Rebecca Solnit has a powerful essay in the May issue of Harper’s that gets at something I’ve been thinking about for a while. In “The Habits of Highly Cynical People,” Solnit writes about what she calls “naive cynicism” — a pervasive cultural tendency to predict the worst, as if somehow that will protect us orContinue reading “On “The Habits of Highly Cynical People””