Monthly Archives July 2017

“Are You Somebody?” Lamentations of An Irish Woman Memoirist

How does one write gorgeous, lyrical, haunting prose about topics that reach to the very depths of human sadness?

About the deep grinding poverty of mid-20th century Ireland, land of no birth control and females as baby-producing machines.

About loss and longing, the physical and emotional battering of children, the abuse and oppression of women, the ache of adult loneliness, the vacancy of wanton sex, the invisibility wrought by old age.

About the alcohol and drugs to which so many victims of the above desperately flee.

And about the lifelong search for love, identity and self-acceptance that proves so elusive in the wake of so much tragedy.

You do it how Irish writer Nuala O’Faolain did it in her surprise bestseller, “Are You Somebody? The Accidental Memoir of a Dublin Woman.” With wrenching, sometimes brutal honesty that takes acute measure of all things human and leaves nothing outside the ...

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Is Health Care a Human Right? Or Is That the Wrong Question?

The intense debate about the Affordable Care Act and the “repeal-and-replace” effort currently underway in Congress by the Republican Party majority harbors an elemental question at its foundation: Is health care a human right?

Generally speaking, I think it safe to say Democrats would answer yes to that question, Republicans no. It’s a stark dividing line across which scores of different philosophical arguments and assumptions have been proffered by equally passionate advocates on either side.

But I think it is fundamentally the wrong question, and I will try to wrestle down the reasons why in the rest of this post.

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Neither the Declaration of Independence nor the United States Constitution say anything specifically about a “right” to health care...

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Crow, Unlucky

The crow never had a chance.

What were the odds of it being
this crow in particular and not
one of its hundreds of brethren
now squawking futilely on its
behalf as its hapless, now limp
carcass is being carried furious
and fast across the lawns of
Jacqueline Drive, hard in the
talons of this hawk who passes
within yards of my bicycle as the
victim’s fellow crows dive bomb
every determined flap of its wings?

Every crow spared but this one,
dead, snuffed, just like that, a
meal in the waiting if the hawk
can elude the battalion of angry
crows acting for all the world as
if they will not stand for this atrocity.

So startled am I by this raw hard
scene of everyday terror that I stop
my bike in awe and alarm as the crow
army screams and circles far above,
their fallen comrade then dropped as
suddenly as the hawk had pounced
and snagged it mere seconds ago.

And now it lies inert, heaped in the
middle of a neig...

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Ta-Nehisi Coates’s “Between the World and Me”: A Meditation

Every person, country, and culture carries a wound. For all its wonder and joys-a-waiting, life leaves virtually everyone bruised and torn by some deep hurt, some natural catastrophe, personal betrayal, shattered dream or misguided intention that leave us chastened, sobered, aware not only of our intense vulnerability to being hurt, but also our own capacity to fail others and cause pain in return.

We are born into a broken world, a stark fact that every religion this side of the most happy-talking prosperity gospel has affirmed throughout history.

America’s deep, still festering wound is slavery and the institutionalized, abiding racism and oppression it has left in its wake. Slavery was so monstrous, its premises and practices so inimical to our stated beliefs that “all (people) are created equal and endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights,” so contrary to our goal of paving the wa...

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