I gave a platform at the Baltimore Ethical Society this past Sunday on social justice. I was intrigued how it brought up childhood memories of injustice. Despite my relatively comfortable childhood, most of my memories were about injustice done to me! (Maybe this is not so unusual given adolescent tendencies towards solipsism – Q: How many teenagers does it take to screw in a light bulb. A: One. They hold the bulb and the world revolves around them.)
It was at Martin Luther King Jr. School in Berkeley, California, that I most poignantly remember feeling that I was the victim of injustice. My father’s 1969 academic sabbatical pulled me away from my comfortable East Coast private school and threw me into a labyrinth of corridors of this tough, large public junior high. I must have looked like a victim, as I attracted bullies like a porch light attracts moths. The typical shakedown began, “Got any money?” Answering, I thought sensibly, “No,” I fell into the trap. The bully would counter, “If I find any on you can I keep it?” Things went downhill from there.
Embarrassed by my own inability to avoid such confrontations, I put up with taunts and punches. One day, I dropped some quarters on the locker room floor. Like a fool, I tried to pick them up – I should have listened to the voice in my head: “just walk away from the money.” I was pushed against a locker, pummeled, and robbed.
Afterwards, sitting on the floor half in tears, what stood out most in the rage that swelled inside me was not the lost quarters or physical pain. It was the sense of violation that made my ears burn and breath quiver. The violation whipped up a swirl of emotions: embarrassment, humiliation, fear, anger, indignation, and even a yearning for revenge. Read more »
In my Ethical Culture home, Labor Day was perhaps the most sacred holiday, perhaps the only sacred holiday that we observed. Some of my earliest memories are of my stroller being decked out with crepe paper streamers to go to the annual Labor Day parade in Manhattan.
I was so proud to be able to participate in the parade as a union member myself back in the early 80's. I was a member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and the first parade I was in was during the year that Ronald Reagan was busy breaking the PATCO union. There was a lot of pro-union energy at that parade.
Supporting labor unions, not crossing picket lines were just something I grew up breathing. My parents were both active in their unions - my mother 1199, which continues to this day, although expanded from its scope as a union for health care workers, and my father, District 65 and even at 6 years old I could tell you that RWDSU stood for Retail, Wholesale, Department Store workers Union.
So I come to write about Labor Day for ESWoW this weekend and it occurs to me it is worth asking the question, why does labor day matter to Ethical Culturists, and of course, the underlying question, why do labor unions matter to Ethical Culturists. Of course, being a non-dogmatic religion, I can only tell you why labor day and labor unions matter to me. It has been a useful exercise to consider why unions were so important to my parents, and why I support unionization today. Read more »
Back from some quality family time in Canada, I feel the familiar pattern: starting over again in the fall. Summer vacation is over. Twenty-five years as an academic leaves me sensing rebirth as September nears. Fall, not spring, is when things start anew in the school calendar -- new students, new courses, new opportunities! Despite all the writing about spring being the time of rebirth -- as I did in my ESWoW blog of 3/12/2010 -- right now I am excited about the newness of the fall.
A big part of the newness is that now as a staff member of ESWoW (no longer "just" an intern), I will be creating and offering a new course on-line: "An Introduction to Ethical Culture", or Ethical Culture 101! While I have taught courses on the founder of Ethical Culture, Felix Adler, I have not yet taught a general introduction to Ethical Culture. Rather than starting with the 1876 speech marking the founding of Ethical Culture, I hope to start with what Ethical Culture means today.
In preparation for this course, I took the opportunity to read a great deal of essays written by Ethical Culture Leaders, most of whom are still active. Over the last week I have read all or part of essays by Algernon Black, Ed Ericson, Howard Radest, Dale Drews, Kenneth J. Smith, Joe Chuman, Bob Berson, Randy Best, Bob Greenwell, Richard Kiniry, Anne Klaeysen, Kate Lovelady, Don Montagna, and Bart Worden. (To those who I did not mention, give me time…I am getting to you!) Most of what I read came from two collections: A Lively Connection, Cable Neuhaus editor (1978), and a 2003 anthology of recent platform addresses still available from the American Ethical Union. The anthology can be purchased through the AEU. Read more »
What a great call honoring Felix Adler's Birthday. If you'd like to continue the discussion, this is the place. I've attached Felix Adler's statement on the purpose of the Ethical Movement.
How do you cook your okra?
Who would have thought that this simple question, asked in a supermarket would create international connections?
Although this time of year I buy most of my produce at local farmers' markets, I did find myself in the produce section of my favorite supermarket last week. My favorite supermarket is Market Basket in Somerville, MA. I like it because it is not a super big chain, and I'm trying to shop local more and more.
But what I like most about it is that I often feel like I am shopping at the United Nations. There are people of zillions of ethnic groups, speaking lots of different languages, many that I can't even identify. The ones I can recognize include Haitian Creole, Portuguese, Spanish and sometimes English. I know that people from Somalia, Cape Verde, Nigeria, and India shop there.
A Rose is a rose......?
Save the Date! Read more »
Mon, 07/05/2010 - 11:35am | Susan
The Fourth of July is upon us – Independence Day in the United States of America.
My usual theme for this holiday is about interdependence and how Ethical Culture holds that fostering the relationships between and among people is a path to living most ethically. I still think that is true, it is a concept I hold most dear and with high regard.
Yet this year, in planning to write about how the United States was founded with the acceptance of the idea that immigrants to this land, Pilgrims and others, could dominate a land that was not theirs and the acceptance of the idea that it was good practice for one human being to own another as a slave, I thought my theme was going to be different, more political, if you will. Read more »
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