Daily Life


Time to Start Using Ecstasy?

I am a drug user, and I’m not afraid to admit it. In fact, I think if more people could get more comfortable with drug use, a great deal of needless pain and suffering could be avoided. Okay, I’m referring to my occasional use of prescription-strength naproxen for headaches and a statin to lower cholesterol – not marijuana (legal or otherwise), or whatever else you may have thought I meant. To be clear, though, I’ve used opioids, the same stuff that makes heroin all that it is, for weeks at a time......

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Coexisting Beyond Bumper Stickers

I was out walking with a friend the other day when I noticed these bumper stickers sharing space on the back of a car, and I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Okay, so I laughed – really hard – and then without crying, was actually kind of pained. Before telling you what I think, ask yourself what you make of the messages. For me, the irony is intense. We’re encouraged to “Coexist” with a rainbow of faiths, traditions and identities, even as we’re also invited to heap abuse on Republicans......

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Rise Above 'No Harm, No Foul'

From the playground to the most serious deliberations about what it means to live a good life, many people subscribe to a definition of goodness that can be summed up as, “No harm, no foul.” In other words: As long as nobody’s truly harmed by what we do, then it shouldn’t be considered wrong. I’ve been thinking about that lately, and the more I do, the more painfully insufficient that measure seems. Recently, I appeared on multiple news shows where I heard others explain away looters in Baltimore, and cops who give......

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Our Neighbor's Suffering

How could it be that, in this richest country at the richest time in human history, some 49 million Americans are hungry, including 33 million adults and 16 million children? In New York City alone, 1.4 million – disproportionately represented by women and children, the working poor, the elderly and disabled – rely on soup kitchens and food pantries to meet their basic food needs. How could that be? And how could we – as caring human beings – have allowed ourselves to become immune to the suffering of so many? I’m......

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Tax Time: Should We Try to Pay Less?

Tax day is upon us, no secret there. And unless you’re profoundly generous and remarkably patriotic, deeply trusting the wisdom of how dollars are spent by the government, you probably feel like most people: less than thrilled about paying your taxes. There’s generally little use in crying about what cannot be changed, e.g., the taxes owed on last year’s earnings. Instead, you may as well turn your attention to lowering next year’s tax bill, now. Turns out that’s something most of us can do, as finance columnist John Waggoner points out in......

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Celebrate National Poetry Month

Did you know that April is National Poetry Month? Inaugurated in 1996 by the Academy of American Poets, National Poetry Month is touted as “the largest literary celebration in the world.” Writers, teachers and librarians throughout the United States band together to celebrate poetry and its vital place in American culture. For the organization’s annual event this month, luminaries in the creative arts (the 2015 list includes choreographer Judith Jamison, songwriter Sam Beam, actor Holly Hunter and chef Anita Lo) will gather in New York City to share their favorite poems at......

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What It Means to 'Receive in Order to Give'

Robert, a good friend of mine in his mid fifties recently celebrated his birthday in a way those who really do have everything might consider. He is a very successful lawyer in Florida, happily married for three decades with two wonderful sons – one a senior and excellent student at Vanderbilt and the other a passionate liberal-progressive writer for leading platforms like AlterNet and Salon and about to enter law school. He could have done just about anything he wanted, and as a generous philanthropist and someone deeply committed to community, whatever......

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Your Bracket Is About More Than Basketball

It is March Madness – college basketball’s two-week sacred time where 64 NCAA teams become 32 teams, and then a Sweet Sixteen, an Elite Eight, a Final Four and a Championship. The communal act that millions of people enjoy is filling out a bracket predicting who, from the initial chosen, will emerge victorious. Even President Obama participates in Bracketology. Over the past few days, I’ve done an informal poll on how people fill out their brackets. The responses, of course, reflect profoundly different worldviews. There are the rational-logical decision makers. They focus......

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Resting Is Far More Than 'Doing Nothing'

Ever feel insecure about what you aren’t accomplishing? Feel like you should be doing more, getting ahead faster, thriving on fewer hours of sleep? If so, I’d estimate there are probably millions of Americans right there with you, at one time or another — and me, for that matter. For inspiration, here are ten quotes that will inspire you to “Feel better about not getting anything done.” For example, take Gandhi’s observation: “There is more to life than increasing its speed.” All these words of wisdom are quite fascinating, as they’re really......

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Can Complainers Be Cured?

About ten years ago I was in a taxi with Elliot, the calmest of my five younger brothers. Traffic was at a standstill, and I was complaining about how late I was going to be for a meeting, and how impossible it was to get around in New York City. Elliot turned to me, and said something that’s become one of the most usable pieces of wisdom I’ve ever received: “Relax. It doesn’t pay to complain about what you can’t control.” Complaining without doing anything is often a security blanket used to......

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