Monday, March 12, 2012


     My second entry is a day late—apologies if someone was paying attention!
     Since I’m just beginning this work, and have much to learn about how to do it well, I want to note that this will probably not be the place to come for facts.  In a way that’s a pity, because facts are much harder to come by, and opinions are a dime a dozen.  Nonetheless—not all opinions are created equal, and not all opinions are labeled as such.  What I will pledge is to keep my opinions 1) honestly labeled as what they are; 2) as sweet-spirited as possible (not nasty or attacking); 3) based on available facts as much as possible; and 4) the best insight I have to offer.  My experience suggests that there are those who will value these contributions, even with my limitations.
     A note:  I have no interest in hosting an “open debate,” in which every angry attack or uninformed knee-jerk rant is granted equal space. There are places where you can do that.  I do want to be welcoming to all who want to discuss these subjects--especially those who disagree with me.  If you want to contribute but find it difficult, please let me know.  That’s why I set up - to ensure that anyone who wants to get in touch on one of these subjects is able to do so.  If it seems to be wise to change the way access is set up here, I’ll do that.

     A place to start?  I want to start with “magic.”  I suspect that a significant majority of Americans would say they don’t believe in magic—but that a significant minority would admit that they do.  My central concern here:  there are far more Americans who believe in magic than would readily admit it.  It seems to be a very difficult addiction to kick.
     Follow me for a moment . . .
     --I don’t know what percentage of American newspapers (remember them?) still print a horoscope.  It looks to me to be very high.
     --I don’t know how many American buildings still don’t “have” a 13th story (for fear that renters won’t want space there).  Presto-chango, the 13th floor has now become the 14th.
     --The market for “lucky numbers” for lotto games, and for the numbers that previous winners played, may be small, but it’s always visible to those who look.
     --As I drive across America, the billboards advertising the service of “psychic readers” (or some variation on the theme) continue to flourish—so apparently some people are making money offering that service.
     Obviously I could go on at some length.  I think that’s enough.
     I once got a wake-up call on this subject in a workshop on gambling addiction presented by a specialist, for a group of United Way executives.  During the meeting she suddenly said, “How many of you are feeling lucky today?”  I thought it a bafflingly dumb question—till I looked around, and at least a third of my fellow executive directors had their hands in the air.  I was astonished—and as she played out the exercise, it became clear that (no surprise!) she knew her audience far better than I did.  She managed to whip up a small frenzy around who would be “lucky” enough to win the small prize she was offering.  And these were not uneducated people.  I won’t forget.
     My point is that there are many, many people who walk around, earn a living, and vote (!), who trust their decisions and some portion of their substance to magical forces around them for which there is not the slightest evidence, and who don’t see that as irrational.  My point is, further, that I think that’s important.  If I’m lucky, I’ll write next about some of the influences that help to create that situation. 

Wednesday, March 07, 2012


      One of my real pleasures has been the steady urgings of some family and friends that I do some serious writing—either for publication or for friends.  One of my real frustrations has been how difficult it’s been for me to make that happen.  Here’s a start.
      I don’t like writing letters to the editor or large pieces for Facebook.  I want to offer my thoughts to people who want to read them, and a blog is one logical way to do that—I don’t inflict my writings on you, you come to read them if and when you wish!  After many efforts to get Blogspot to work for me, my friend Diane in Louisiana has helped me get the bugs worked out, and to get this up and running.
      SO.  I’ll wait a few days after this initial post before posting again, to give friends time to check in.  Then I hope to be posting at least several times each week.  I’ve built up a huge backlog of topics I’m interested in, and I’ll be dusting those off and offering some for what they’re worth.  Here’s a hint of the kind of thing you’re likely to see dealt with here—if you come back.
      I’m not much interested in “preaching”—in the sense of offering advice and supposed wisdom into a marketplace already full of self-appointed gurus.
      What I think I do better—and what I believe to be more useful—is to offer thoughts, into which I invite people to thoughtful conversation and discussion.  I like to draw comparisons, point out distinctions, raise points often neglected, and in general participate in efforts to understand.
      My friends know of me that I’m a man who hates repression and injustice, and those are issues that will get my attention often and quickly.
      But I’m also one who has spent much of my life as a psychotherapist, dealing with feelings and relationships, so social issues are for me never just macrocosmic or theoretical, legal or judicial.  They are rooted in our hopes and fears, our awareness, our ignorance, our learned and inherited ways of understanding, and our yearning to grow in “liberty and justice for all.”
      But I don’t want just to deal with unpleasantness and conflict.  I also, often, see wonderful things going on around me, and I want to celebrate those.  By no means all the good things in my life are connected with Judaism—but I’m astonished by such things as the fact that Charlotte’s “Woman of the Year” is (drum roll, please!) a rabbi!  Or the fact that a rabbi e-friend of mine does stand-up comedy, often with a Muslim friend!   Or my vivid memory of a local imam delivering a Thanksgiving prayer (last November) in Arabic . . . in a synagogue!  My world is full of much more than just bad news!
      So check back from time to time.  Share the URL with people you think might want to think about the things you find here. 
      I’m aware that anyone who puts their thoughts into the public realm raises the possibility of some very rough—sometimes even unfair—treatment.  I hope I’m ready for that, if it comes.  But much more, I look forward to corresponding with friends as we look together for ways to help our country, our people, our world, grow toward more loving and mature ways of living together.  Hope to see you around.
      Comments?  Questions?  Suggestions?  Write me at