This week, South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg and his husband, Chasten, appeared on the front cover of Time magazine with the headline “First Family.” Apart from the historic nature of Mayor Pete’s candidacy, however, his candidness about being both openly gay and openly Christian has stirred an awakening for many similarly situated LGBTQ+ Christian Americans, prompting us to finally and fully “come out,” claiming both our sexual identity and our religious faith in all settings, not just selectively or advisedly. I count myself among the newly emboldened.Read More
It doesn’t take a high-level government position or even a law degree to practice good negotiation and mediation.
In fact, as a group of Seeds recently learned, many of us have been trying our hand at it for a very long time.
In January, 41 junior Seeds from Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Palestine, the U.S., and the U.K. met in Cyprus for a four-day seminar exploring how this vital form of communication can be honed to more effectively navigate difficult situations and decisions that arise in everyday life. Titled “Bridging the Gap: How to Resolve Disputes Through Negotiation,” the seminar was presented by a Harvard Law School team led by Bob Bordone, who has been facilitating such workshops for Seeds of Peace for eight years and recently joined the Seeds of Peace Board.Read More
Amazon’s decision to abandon its planned construction of a major campus in Long Island City has revealed deep fissures among New Yorkers. Typical of news coverage and commentary in these highly-polarized times, discussion of the issue has been framed in largely win/lose terms, both from the perspective of politics (progressives versus pragmatics) and the impact on the New York economy and lifestyle (“more jobs is always better” versus “union-busting vulture capitalist billionaires don’t deserve tax breaks”). As with most stories framed in win/lose terms, the narrative unfolds with heroes, villains, victims, and victors.Read More
The events surrounding and following the encounter between the Covington Catholic High School boys, Native American elder Nathan Phillips and the Black Hebrew Israelites at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., last month were deeply troubling, no matter where you stand politically.
Now the family of Nicholas Sandmann, the student in the video standing face-to-face with Mr. Phillips, has filed a defamation lawsuit against The Washington Post seeking $250 million in damages for how the newspaper covered the incident, which occurred after the annual March for Life and turned out to be quite different from the narrative initially spread on social media.Read More
Most people I know are utterly dumbstruck by the petty politics currently being played between U.S. President Donald Trump and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. In the throes of the longest government shutdown in U.S. history – and with virtually no end in sight – not only are neither of our national leaders doing anything productive or constructive to find a solution, they’ve also managed to open up another front in the conflict – a high-profile, petty, and pointless power play.Read More
The events surrounding and following the altercation between the high school boys attending Covington Catholic High School & Nathan Phillips, a Native American man are truly regrettable.
In today’s highly-polarized political environment, the altercation became an explosive tinder box for pent-up anger from virtually every side of the political/religious/ideological/racial fence.
From my perspective, nothing about this is edifying (so far). But I do believe something of value can come from it that is more ennobling than, “Check your facts before railing about how horrible someone is.”Read More
Mary Oliver is my favorite poet.
So much of her work speaks to my soul, challenges me, invites me to a deeper sense of self.
Her passing today hit me harder than I expected. A dear friend introduced me to her and the specific poem he invited me to reflect on was Wild Geese. It is my favorite and one of the most challenging of her pieces for me.Read More
Americans fancy themselves as leaders in virtually every sector from science to farming to healthcare. We want – even expect - our movies, our smart phones, our automobiles, our medical innovations, our military – you name it – to be cutting-edge and ‘state of the art.’
And, in most sectors, even if Americans are not ‘leading’ the world, we at least can make a decent showing on the world scene as respectable.Read More
Yesterday, my next door neighbor was murdered in the park next to my house. I walk in this park with my dog Rosie three times a day. It has running paths and fields and a dog park and lots of people of all ages who enjoy it every day.
My neighbor was discovered by a passerby at about 7:00pm. He had suffered blows to the head.
I knew him since I moved to Sherman Street in 2003. Like me, he was one of the four trustees of our small condo association.Read More
Four days ago, I had chance to visit the Moria Refugee Camp on the island of Lesbos, Greece. Images of the camp’s horrendous living conditions are haunting. Thousands of refugees from countries such as Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan have taken harrowing and often deadly trips on rickety boats to escape the horrors of war.Read More
The recent Vatican synod on the family was not the first time Catholic Church leaders came together to discuss a controversial issue of importance in Church doctrine. But it was the first time Pope Francis oversaw such a meeting – and what happened during the synod revealed a great deal about his negotiation style and attitude towards conflict and disagreement within the Catholic community.Read More
The past fifteen years have witnessed massive expansion, growth, and re-development throughout New York City – from Williamsburg and Prospect Park in Brooklyn to Times Square and the Meatpacking District in Manhattan. If a court decision on October 14 holds, Greenwich Village will become the latest neighborhood slated for a makeover. Last Tuesday, New York University received the green light to build out 2.45 million square feet of new classroom, office, and residential space in the Village by 2031.
Tuesday’s decision by the Appellate Division of the New York State Supreme Court closes (for now) one chapter in a bitter and contentious dispute between the NYU and its neighbors. But make no mistake. The decision will bring neither peace nor an end to the conflict.Read More
Those of us who recall former President George W. Bush declaring war on the “axis of evil” shortly after September 11, 2001, could be forgiven for experiencing deja vu last week when President Obama addressed the United Nations General Assembly. In a rhetorically-powerful speech evoking familiar and resonant values – typical for President Obama – some of his comments also took a distinctly atypical turn: specifically, referring to ISIS, he asserted that “there can be no reasoning – no negotiation – with this brand of evil. The only language understood by killers like this is the language of force.” Not surprisingly, this assertion was quickly turned into a soundbite and rebroadcast in countless media outlets as a condensed summary of the President’s approach to ISIS.Read More
In the tumultuous days since Michael Brown was shot by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, we have witnessed a wide range of reactions, responses, and coping strategies. Some have been physical in the form of protests or even violence; many have been vocal in the form of speeches, articles, or punditry; and more than a handful have called for, among other things, increased dialogue.Read More
This summer, my heart and mind have been consumed by the surge of violence in and around Gaza. Posts on my Facebook news feed and Twitter account, as well as personal communications from friends and colleagues in the region, have provided a chilling, sad, and yet still incomplete glimpse of what daily life has been like for so many in Israel, Gaza, and the West Bank. 24 hours into what will hopefully be a lasting cease-fire, these snapshots nevertheless stay with me. The photos and stories of grievous injuries and deaths and the vitriolic rhetoric and debate over the issues at stake have, at times, felt overwhelming. An externality of the war this summer has been increased media coverage of grassroots efforts to promote peace between Israelis and Palestinians by a multitude of NGOs who have been working in the region for years, sometimes even decades.Read More