Trump, Trust, and Civic Renewal

More than anything else, the current political climate shifts the kinds of solutions for which our fellow citizens will reach. Rather than hoping to make change at the national level, we must organize our political lives around more local efforts. Rather than seeking assistance from state institutions we must organize and act ourselves. I have seen four specific projects suggested that I’d like to endorse.

Advice and Consent

“To what purpose then require the co-operation of the Senate? I answer, that the necessity of their concurrence would have a powerful, though, in general, a silent operation. It would be an excellent check upon a spirit of favoritism in the President, and would tend greatly to prevent the appointment of unfit characters from State… Continue reading Advice and Consent

Margalit and Derrida on Forgiveness and the Skandalon

“Stumble stones” in Berlin’s Wilmersdorf district November 7, 2008/Fabrizio Bensch

As I see it, the limit of forgiveness is not within our voluntary power, an act of will, but rather in developing the capacity to imagine the act that we are trying to forgive. Thus the skandalon of forgiveness is an imaginative challenge, we stumble over it when acts are unimaginable, and we overleap it when our imagination succeeds. We make these imagined acts meaningful for others through poiesis: we create a world of meaning in which they are imaginable by marking exemplars, noting commonalities, and creating spaces of remembrance. The product of our work thus makes these meaningless deaths and thought-defying atrocities meaningful and thinkable. If you think about it from the perspective of un-consolable resentment, this is a crime akin to justification or exoneration.

Going Upstream: Prisons and the Social Determinants of Health

by Flickr user John Watson

A couple of weeks ago, I joined with hundreds of other students and scholars at Johns Hopkins for a conference on prisons and the social determinants of health. The star of the conference was this story: One day three men were fishing in the river when they noticed a baby floating towards them. Two of the men jumped… Continue reading Going Upstream: Prisons and the Social Determinants of Health

What are the ruling ideas today? Is “College For All” among them? (Doubts-that-don’t-change-our-practices edition)

by flickr user ChrisM70

I’ve just finished an article on higher education and the liberal arts, and it’s full of hope and comes to some definite conclusions about particular ways that an education in the liberal arts is valuable. It’s out for peer review right now, which means that if the reviewer is googling phrases maybe she’ll find this,… Continue reading What are the ruling ideas today? Is “College For All” among them? (Doubts-that-don’t-change-our-practices edition)