Category archives for Logos/Ethos

Speech to Harvard Alumni Association

October, 2009   Civic Virtue: Signs of Life in an Age of Low Expectations               Thank you for inviting me here today.  I get good vibes from this room. My wife and I had our wedding reception here a few years ago. Congratulations for keeping Arpad in the money.             I spent 40 years in […]

Marriage and Civil Rights

 March, 2010             In November, a majority of California voters chose to deny the minority of citizens a right which the majority enjoys. The right in question, of course, was the right to marry. The majority of voters decided that only heterosexual couples possess this right. America’s founders would have been stunned to see such […]

The Town Square

   July, 2010            We call it the marketplace of ideas. It’s a metaphorical public square where  democratic citizens stroll about exchanging and exploring competing ideas which affect the common good. Socrates of Athens and Publius of the Federalist Papers once drew thoughtful crowds here.             I like to think the marketplace actually exists. Even […]

Two Boston Globe Letters

Civic illiteracy: The days of the living dead / Boston Globe October 8, 2006 JEFF JACOBY has used the results of a survey of college freshmen and seniors to conclude that America’s youth suffer from civic illiteracy (“Dumbing down democracy,” op-ed, Oct. 1). Not surprisingly, he rounds up the usual suspects, liberal college professors and […]

Speech to Simmons College Alumnae

 October, 2007 Thank you very much for inviting me to speak with you today.  For over a century Simmons College has played a major role educating women as independent, equal and empowered citizens.  You have every right to be proud alumnae and I am honored to speak with you here today. I’d like to share […]

Recalibrating Public Education

    January, 2013 A democratic society is we-centered and adult in nature; a consumer society is me-centered and adolescent in nature.             Any sound public school system should have three objectives in educating children: preparation for the duties of citizenship, preparation for earning a living, and preparation for exercising one’s moral obligation to […]

Is It Ever Wrong to Do the Right Thing?

April, 2011             There are some days that make teaching the greatest activity that one can imagine. One such day occurred a few years ago when a student asked me a great question. Is it ever wrong to do the right thing?  Isn’t that a great question?  It’s a special moment when anyone, no matter […]

Imus and Incivility

                              September, 2008             I have been an Imus listener since 1973. Obviously I enjoy the show’s content and style. I am rarely shocked or otherwise put off by his opinions and/or delivery. That is not to say that I have agreed with his opinions or that I think civil discourse ought to be […]

You Can’t Handle the Truth!

July, 2008             There is a painter in Maine by the name of Robert Shetterly and he has created a powerful series of portraits called “Americans Who Tell the Truth”. Americans as diverse as Dwight Eisenhower and Emma Goldman are captured in dramatic chiaroscuro effect with a quotation of theirs painted in thin characters. […]

On Peace and Misery

    May, 2010                  It took me many years to learn I couldn’t make deals with God.  It had worked pretty well throughout my teen and young adult years.  God got me into the college I wanted and convinced my parents that I was worth the room and board my older brother somehow didn’t merit.  […]

Enough is Enough

March, 2009             In his idea known as the “Golden Mean”, Aristotle pointed out that every virtue has the potential for becoming a vice if we do not practice it to an exact degree. A virtue like courage, for instance, quickly becomes a vice when we take it to an extreme. We call excessive […]

Plain Old Teaching

    July, 2005        As I prepare for my fortieth and final year as a classroom teacher, I can’t help but reflect on Thomas Sowell’s recent column, “What happened to plain old teaching?”  I have seen educational trends and national mandates come and go.  But because we care about our children and their lives we […]

Confronting the Extraordinary

  February, 2012             For decades, America has been suffering from language inflation. We take rather ordinary events or people and assign them preposterous descriptors. Cheeseburgers are awesome. Football scores can shock the world. And boyfriends are amazing.             Some time ago I pledged to myself that would try my best to avoid […]

What’s Wrong With the Golden Rule?

January, 2010               Just when we thought it was safe to hold another national election, the clamor for candidates to pass a religious preference test rears its ugly head.  Since the appearance of the religious right on the political scene twenty years ago, the GOP, the major benefactor of fundamentalist fervor, has insisted on […]

Contemplations on War, Freedom, and Guilt

            July, 2010                 The bumper sticker in front of me was troubling on so many levels. I haven’t been able to shake either the contradictory emotions I felt or my need to respond somehow.                                             “My son is a soldier in Iraq. Enjoy your freedom”               How frightening it must be to know […]

Independence Day in America

 July, 2010               I have never been able to determine our most significant national holiday. The closest I have come is to identify the two finalists, Thanksgiving Day and Independence Day.  Together they represent the very best of our human nature and our national character.   Thanksgiving Day signifies the moral virtue of our […]

Political Equivocation and the Right to Life

October, 2012             During the Biden-Ryan debate, the moderator managed to sneak in one non-economy question near the end. It had to do with the candidates’ positions on abortion. They responded as candidates usually do, with safe answers that are often considered unassailable and are designed to fend off the question and this morally […]

Education and Democracy

August, 2006             School starts this week, but for the first time in forty years I won’t be there.  I’m just beginning a new life as a retired teacher but I can tell already that I’m not going to be able to leave public education behind.  It is too important in my life and […]

War and Civic Virtue

March, 2012             The Iraq War cost the United States 4,436 citizen lives, 35,000 wounded and, depending on whom you want to believe, between one and three trillion dollars. (That would be 3 million million dollars). To arrive at roughly the same place as Iraq, that is, a wobbly state with virtually no government […]