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Front Page » Table of Contents » Human Behavior

By Ken Poland on January 12, 2011

We have experienced a tragic event that has both united and separated us. We are united in our grief and emotional sympathies for those directly involved in this tragedy. We are divided and defensive when faced with who is responsible for this heinous event. We want to run and hide undercover to avoid our liability in this event. When our cover is pulled and we are forced to face reality, we flail about and find every conceivable way to place the blame on someone else.

Indeed! We are prone to divide society into categories that will validate our own opinions. And, sometimes, those divisions are valid to back up those opinions. Often, though, they are meant only to inflame emotions for or against.

Was it Hillary Clinton who said that "it takes a community to raise a child?" She was absolutely right. It also takes community to define a nation. We, as a nation, are inclined to base our opinions and justify our actions solely on our own selfish desires and benefits. We excuse our selves and blame the community, when things appear to have gone wrong. We puff out our chests and claim personal credit when things appear to have gone right.

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By Richard Head on December 14, 2010

After watching a few minutes of the obligatory Christmas movie "It's a Wonderful Life" this past Sunday evening on the local NBC station, I turned the TV off and didn't think much more of it. After all, like so many millions of others, I've seen it many, many times already. But an interesting thing happened on Monday morning.

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By Bob Hooper on July 20, 2010

Frankly, I'm curious about what Christianity is, and isn't.

In a previous column, I outed the icon of capitalism, Ayn Rand -- an atheist who not only preached self above others but saw Christianity as "the best kindergarten of communism possible." And, I relayed Glenn Beck's companion advice that if your church advocates social or economic justice, you should "leave that church."

There's a disturbing resonance between Rand and Beck and the paranoid, angry, militaristic, flaggity-braggity, gun-toting right -- a good many of whom claim Christianity. Frankly, I think they're giving Jesus -- as well as the Republican Party -- a bad name, Also frankly, to use a religious term, they scare hell out of me. I am reminded of Sinclair Lewis's book It can't happen here. In 1935 Lewis warned, "When fascism comes to America, it will come wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross." And an AK-47?

Maybe I'm wrong, but I see a disconnect today from the vital and necessary role of Christianity in not just advocating but struggling for social and economic justice. And so I began to wonder: is this country really as Christian as we hear? What is Christianity, that word we bandy about?

Read more of this post here ...

By Jeff Mincey on June 6, 2010

We Americans just love our evil. We not only demonize our criminals, but we relish doing it. It permeates our society. Our literature and movies are rich in evil protagonists, and we buy innumerable guns to protect ourselves against bogeymen of all sorts — even as we have a voyeuristic fascination with them.

The concept of evil permeates also our institutions. We codify it in our criminal judicial system, and we have the highest incarceration rate of any Western industrial society to show for it. Not satisfied only to elect politicians who champion the death penalty for violent offenders, we use a punitive approach even for nonviolent crimes as well — all under the banner of justice.

But just what exactly is evil?

Read more of this post here ...

By Diane Wahto on June 3, 2010

It happened again a few days ago. A long-time friend who should know better sent me another one of those racist anti-Hispanic e-mails, one in a long line of many I’ve received since Arizona passed its “Show us your documentation” law. This isn’t the first racist e-mail I’ve received nor will it be the last, I’m sure.

Racist e-mails have become the norm in the last few years. After 9/11, I received a torrent of hateful e-mails against Middle Easterners in general and Muslims in particular. Finally, after I received such an e-mail, a particularly hateful one, from a friend, I responded. I told her to take me off her hate mail list. I also told her that one of my former officemates at the community college where I taught is a Middle Eastern Muslim, as is the cardiologist I see. Both men are fine people who came to America because they knew they could be successful here. Many Middle Eastern students took my English comp classes, and I assume most of them were Muslims, even though I never asked. The worst crime they ever committed was to try to bribe me with meals so they would get an A in the class. Of course, the bribes never worked.

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By Weeden Nichols on May 30, 2010

It was Bob Dylan who started me pondering what ordinary persons such as I do expect from public figures, and what is reasonable for us to expect. It isn’t that I am overly sympathetic to public figures. Most of them sought that status, and that status pays off fairly well for most of them. We private citizens have a fair degree of legal right to our privacy. Public figures do not. That is part of the bargain. They forfeit privacy in return for the advantages of notoriety. So, it is not the privacy issue I am addressing. That is more or less settled. What I would like to address is ownership. Yes, once we the public fasten upon someone who has become a public figure, once we are delighted or moved by something he or she does, we think we own that person as he or she is (or as we think he or she is) at that moment.

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By Jean Binder on May 29, 2010

Death of the ocean bottom and thereby death of the life and lifestyle - of rig workers, of fisher folk, and of homes: for fish, shrimp, birds, and coastal dwellers. All because of what? Cain and Abel? Could it really be?

Seems it was due in large part to those following the example of Cain and Abel. You know, those Biblical boys, the firstborns of Adam and Eve, the ones who broke their parents hearts and ruined both their lives over jealousy, resentment, and "personal differences."

Apparently, the BP representative on that fateful rig KNEW from gauge readings that there had to be natural gas in that pipe, but failed to ask for advice before going ahead. WHY? Because of "personal differences" with his superior in Texas.

Read more of this post here ...

By Jennifer Schwaller on May 27, 2010

With the release of Sex & The City II, it’s that time again.

Time for breathless “news” discussing earth shattering stories of consequence. What are Carrie/Samantha/Charlotte/Miranda wearing? Are Carrie and Big still together? Is Samantha…umm, still not “family friendly”? What’s up with awkward Miranda? How’s Charlotte’s sugar coated, goody-goody life?

I am invoking the words of Roberto Duran when I say with regards to Sex & The City – “NO MAS”. Yep, in the words of Mixed Martial Arts, I am tapping out of the Carrie/Samantha/Charlotte/Miranda bout. No mas. Tap…tap…tap.

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By Darrell Hamlin on February 28, 2010

Like many Americans, I was unable to watch the health care “summit” live last week because I was at work. But I did stay up until about 2 a.m. watching the replay on CSpan. Even at the time I thought it was a little nuts to stay up so late to watch a political event that essentially meant nothing and accomplished nothing. I had already read much of the post-event analysis; I had watched a number of clips capturing some of the more dramatic moments. But that’s just it: I was getting somebody else’s commentary, and viewing what somebody else considered the “highlights,” like it was a football game and all that mattered were the touchdowns. My wife is sane, so she went to bed. I sat in the darkness watching government on television.

Read more of this post here ...

By Janet Morrison on February 25, 2010

Autism... it's something we often think of as a deficiency. However, autistic people are in tune to so many details the rest of us miss.Their skills can be an absolutely amazing asset and benefit (to themselves and us) if we know how to tap into their potential.

Temple Grandin is autistic. There is currently an HBO movie out about her. Though I think we have been heading in this direction anyway, listening to her TED talk (below) challenged me to think harder about how how we engage kids in our After-School Academy. We want to make sure we're tapping into their amazing potential... a potential that may be overlooked if we're not better in tune with them.

Read more of this post here ...

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