Backed by excellent research and writing of Bergen Ethical Culture Leader Joe Chuman, a resolution passed by the American Ethical Union Annual Assembly in April of 2008 declared that, “the use of torture is the most heinous violation of human dignity.” Prior to its passage, the National Leader’s Council discussed whether torture is really the “most” heinous violation of ethical culture values. After all, what about mass murder and genocide and terrorism? Besides, wasn’t torture supposed to help stop mass murder in the “war on terror?”
While this conversation may seem overly academic to some, it did help me clarify a particular horror of torture. My commitment to Ethical Culture includes an emphasis on the sacredness of relationships. As terrible as the killing of one person by another is, in most cases it occurs in a flash without establishment of any real relationship between killer and killed. Modern warfare is particularly good at creating a distance between them. Much killing is orchestrated with buttons and video screens, a dehumanization that is a topic for another blog.
Torture, however, relies particularly on the establishment of a personal relationship between torturer and tortured. The manipulation of psychology and power creates a perverse relationship twisted by humiliation and suffering. Given my reverence for relationships, I concluded that, yes, torture is the most heinous violation of human dignity and a particularly horrible aspect of U. S. foreign policy. Read more »
From the Leader - Welcome to our New Home
Community Call - Sunday, Nov. 21, 2010, Ethical Culture Leaders Statement with Tony Hileman
Around the Movement - Tony Hileman - What Passes for Religion
Ethical Awareness - Transgender Day of Remembrance
From Susan - Our Redesigned Website - we have a new home, one where we can have creative conversations with members and guests, one where members can share more about themselves, where we can continue the conversations we begin on our Community Calls.
Community Call - Sunday, Nov. 21. Our community calls are an opportunity to connect with each other and to learn more about Ethical Culture. On Nov. 21, Tony Hileman will join us to discuss the statement created by the National Leaders Council in 2009 - a statement reflecting the very best collective thinking of the Leaders of the Ethical Movement. The call is at 12 m PT, 1 pm MT, 2 pm CT, and 3 pm ET. The number to join the call is toll-free - 866-740-1260 and the access code is 5766842#. We hope you will join us and let others know about the call too.
Around the Movement - Tony Hileman, who will be joining us on our Community Call this week, gave this Platform on What Passes for Religion at the NY Society for Ethical Culture in 2007. The quality of the recording is not the best, but the content of the talk is certainly worth listening to.
We are live. You've found the new home of ESWoW.
I am so delighted to share with you the new home of the Ethical Society Without Walls!! It has been a long journey, taking a lot longer than we expected.
But now we have a new home, one where we can have creative conversations with members and guests, one where members can share more about themselves, where we can continue the conversations we begin on our Community Calls. And we have opportunities. The underlying platform of our website is one which makes it easier to change and add elements, to grow, to be responsive to the suggestions we get from the people who are using the website.
It seems so appropriate that this new website, our new home, is coming at a time when ESWoW is also working towards becoming an independent Ethical Culture Society, supported by the time, the effort and financial contributions of members and those interested in working with and supporting ESWoW. We will be working together to create a vibrant website and a vibrant congregation.
Please explore, join our forums, give us feedback - we want to know what you like about our new site as well as what you don't like. In the coming weeks we will be doing some tweaking and also sharing more with you each week about the contents of our website, how to find them, and most importantly, how you can participate. Read more »
Tony Hileman, Ethical Culture Leader, will be joining our Community Call on Sunday, Nov. 21, 2010. He will be talking with us about the 2008 National Leaders Council Statement on Ethical Culture.
We hope you can read the statement before the call:
The call is at noon Pacific Time, 1pm Mountain, 2pm Central and 3pm Eastern Time. I hope you can join us and please spread the word.
866.740.1260 Access: 5766842
For safety reasons, we urge people not to drive while participating in ESWoW calls.
Discuss Torture from an Ethical Culture Perspective - Community Call with Joe Chuman on October 17, 2010
Joe Chuman, Leader of the NY Society for Ethical Culture and the Ethical Culture Society of Bergen County will be joining the ESWoW Community Call on Sunday, Oct. 17, 2010 to discuss an Ethical Culture perspective on torture.
The number to join the call is 866-740-1260, access code 5766842#. The call is at 12m PT, 1pm MT, 2pm CT, and 3pm ET. Our calls usually last from1 - 1 1/2 hours.
Please invite anyone you know who is interested in this important topic to join the conversation.
For safety reasons, we urge people not to drive while participating in ESWoW calls.
Below, please find a statement developed primarily by Dr. Chuman, giving a comprehensive understanding of the issue of torture through an Ethical Culture lens and a resolution of the American Ethical Union about torture. The website of the Ethical Culture Society of Bergen County has extensive biographical information regarding Joe Chuman. In December 2009, Dr. Chuman gave a Platform Address at the New York Society for Ethical Culture on Ethical Culture and Human Rights. Watching this video will give you an opportunity to see and hear Joe Chuman giving a Platform.
Water is the subject of this year's Blog Action Day.
Blog Action Day is held on October 15 each year and is an invitation to bloggers around the world to all blog on the same topic on the same day. What an excellent way to connect with people around the world, people who care about and are working on important social justice issues. It brings to mind our saying in Ethical Culture "Diversity in the creed, unanimity in the deed." Many people, working to make the world a better a place.
In the last several years, I've had the sense that the way I thought about water for many years was no longer accurate. Writing this blog has been a good opportunity to review and solidify my thinking about water.
Long ago, when I lived in New Jersey, I thought that tap water wasn't safe to drink. I thought that there were various chemicals contained in tap water that weren't good for human consumption. Now, I can’t tell you if that was true or not. But back then, my family had bottled water delivered to our house.
When my son was about 5, I overheard him and a friend plotting to do something awful to another child they knew. It was clear to me that they were only imagining, and had no intention of actually carrying out this act, so I listened with amusement. The awful act they were planning was to make the third child drink tap water. In their world, they knew that was something pretty bad to do. Read more »
My last blog about Ethical Culture and Social Justice reminded me of my college quest for finding solutions to injustice. Like many other young Americans feeling guilty about their comfortable life and the expensive colleges their parents could afford, I was attracted to the intellectual left. I took courses in Russian History and the History of International Communism. The idealism motivating radicals and revolutionaries intrigued me. It annoyed my father who was paying for my education.
At the dinner table during breaks from my studies I ranted about capitalism, poverty, and the need for radical economic redistribution. "What are you, a socialist?," my father would ask, eyeing me suspiciously. "Maybe," I'd respond somewhat pleased with his discomfort at the idea. "What better solution is there?" He'd start talking about stimulating general economic growth, but I would interrupt, "Tell that to a starving child Dad!" And so it would go…
Probably to my father's relief, and greatly accelerated by my growing dread of learning the Russian language, I switched from Soviet Studies to U. S. History. My interest in social justice remained strong, however, as I studied progressive leaders like Bob LaFollette, Teddy Roosevelt, and Jane Adams. At least, I imagine my father saying, they were easier to stomach than "socialism."
My youthful intellectual attraction to radicalism and an interest in social justice is what attracted me to Ethical Culture fifteen years ago. A number of Ethical Culture Society mission statements include the term "social justice," and the American Ethical Union proclaims itself "a religious, educational, cultural and social justice organization." Read more »