Editorials

On Water

Activists chant, “Water is life.” Introductory chemistry teachers instruct, “Water is the universal solvent.” Because of water’s exceptional ability to dismember all sorts of materials – carbon-based molecules, metals, salts – as well as its ability to absorb all sorts of gases – paleontologists tend to assume that life on Earth began in a body of water.

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On Weapons

Dear Friends: Almost anything can serve as a weapon, even life-giving water. All living creatures on earth have evolved (are evolving) fortifications against attack. Cellular life is fortified by membranes, and human societies are fortified by lines in the sand. Nutrients and attractive ideas gain access through those fortifications. Poisons and slander are rebuffed.

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On Mixture

Dear Friends: Our bodies cannot live outside of history, nor can we live outside of history’s cruelty, its “mixing memory and desire.” Rowing our boats with our backs towards the future, we despair at the carnage we watch flowing out from our wakes – oceans choked by our poisons, lives crushed by our bigotry, truth and kindness twisted by our greed. Some bits of beauty bob along, too.

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On Children

In her autobiography, Life on Two Levels (1978), Quaker dynamo Josephine Duveneck tells of a year when she provided a foster home in Los Altos Hills, CA, to a seven-year-old Jewish boy from Germany, while Hitler was rising to power in Europe. “What a sweet little personality he was . . .

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On Captivity

We have been created with gifts – awareness, comprehension, will, empathy – to do the work of Life. We can play with these gifts – and it is only by playing with them that we learn to use them well – but in play we risk falling into traps of self-indulgence, we risk blunting and distorting the vital purposes of our gifts and our lives.

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On Garbage

Henry Ford, the father of mass production, is famously known for declaring, “History is bunk.” Thus, he relegated “History” to “the trash heap of history.” (The word “bunk” comes from the Dutch word for “rubbish,” bunkum.) Histories exist to make sense of people’s lives, to reveal the meanings of humanity.

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On Home

Every living thing needs a certain amount of shelter to survive. Some humans cling aggressively to mighty castles; which is to say, they cling to piles of stones. Others remain ever ready to respond to The Call to pick up their tents and walk. The responsive ones are called humble; which is to say, they are blessed.

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