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The Real Rainbow Coalition

In the old Peanuts comic strip, Linus once declared that, “I love humanity; it’s people I can’t stand.”

It’s no longer a joke.  As human society grows ever more fractured, we see everyone else as either too traditional or too progressive, too dovish or too hawkish, too far left or too far right.  Unity remains a dream we no longer believe in as we divide ourselves up into increasingly tribal enclaves.

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The Beauty of Misfortune

What would Gandhi say?

There’s not much question, really. The icon of civil disobedience disdained every form of violence. He most certainly would have condemned riotous demonstrations protesting any courtroom verdict, no matter how unpalatable. So would Martin Luther King.

It’s easy to understand why many St. Louis residents took to the streets over the acquittal of former police officer Jason Stockley in the shooting death of Anthony Lamar Smith. Officer Stockley’s comments and conduct raised serious questions about the credibility of his own testimony. And civil protest is one of the foundational principles of a free society.

But on the other hand...

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2 Minute Video: What are Ethics?
Part 31 -- Communication is Power

There's really no difference between the message and the messenger.

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Irma and Harvey: a love story

If the stars should appear one night in a thousand years, how would men believe and adore.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

It’s a sad reality of human nature: we miss out enjoying the blessings that fill our lives because we take them for granted. Until we don’t have them any more.

Nature has its own way of reminding us to pay attention. Sometimes it’s through extraordinary beauty. And sometimes it’s through awesome power. Last month, the light of the sun disappeared at midday as the eclipse moved across the country. This month, the fury of life-giving water uprooted the lives of millions.

The misery inflicted by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma was horrific to watch, and exponentially more horrific to endure. From thousands of miles away, Americans shook their heads at scenes of devastated communities, shattered homes, and displaced families. We wrote relief checks, offered prayers, gave thanks for our own safety, and carried on with our lives.

We wished we could do more. But what more we could do?

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Winning Through Consensus

From the moment our current president began preparing for his ascension to power, the outgoing president began showing signs of concern — if not outright anxiety — over his legacy. And he had good reason.

Whether or not one approved of Mr. Obama’s policies or performance, there is one undeniable fact: as president, he made little effort to govern by consensus.

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No Safety in Numbers

“While nobody knows what's going on around here, everybody knows what's going on around here.”

In his eerily prophetic 1975 novel, The Shockwave Rider, John Brunner describes the Delphi pool, a futuristic incarnation of the Las Vegas betting boards.  It works this way:

Ask large numbers of people questions to which they can’t possibly know the answers.  For example:  How many victims died from influenza in the epidemic of 1918?

Even though few of the subjects know anything at all about the question, their guesses will cluster around the correct answer.  In the novel, the principle held true even for things that hadn’t happened yet, creating a reasonably accurate window into the future.

As it turns out, Mr. Brunner wasn’t far from reality.  Although his system doesn’t hold true for actual statistics, it’s right on target when applied to human psychology.

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Stop Waiting for Success... Just Ask!

Does this sound familiar?

You’re running out the door to take your wife to the airport, only to discover you have a flat tire. You don’t have time to wait for a taxi or the auto club. You want to ask your neighbor for a ride, but you’re afraid it’s too much of an imposition.

Or… you see someone on the subway reading a book by your favorite author or about a topic you find fascinating. You want to strike up a conversation, but you’re afraid of intruding on the other person’s privacy.

Or… you have a lead on a promising job opportunity, and an acquaintance has dealings with your prospective employer. You want to ask her to make an introduction, but you don’t want to put her in an uncomfortable position.

So what are you afraid of:

Overstepping boundaries?
Being a pest?
All of the above?

Sure, there are boundaries, and sometimes we do cross them. So if these scenarios arise often, you might need to examine whether you’re overly needy.

But most of us aren’t looking for such situations; they just happen. And when they do, here’s the key: just ask!

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A Bridge over Untroubled Waters

After 50 years, no one believed it would ever happen. That’s why they called it the bridge that was going nowhere.

But now that’s all water under the… well, you know. The new St. Croix Crossing Bridge opened last week to great fanfare, connecting eastern Minnesota with western Wisconsin and replacing the Stillwater lift bridge that was built in 1931.

Which just goes to show that two sides are never so far apart that they can’t be brought together.

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How Ants Survive Rush Hour

Who doesn’t hate rush hour? Either we’re stuck motionless in a sea of cars or taking our lives in our hands as if on an amusement park bumper ride.

Maybe we should take a lesson from the ants.

Yes, ants.

Ants are better drivers than we are. And the lessons of their highway habits offer some valuable lessons that extend far beyond the way we drive.

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