In Iowa one week before the Presidential caucuses, we were far from the only group discussing politics that blustery night. From Sioux City to Davenport and everywhere in between, we Iowans have been bombarded with political billboards flanking our daily commute and dozens of ads in our physical and virtual mailboxes on any given day.
I've come to believe that even if there was agreement in the U.S. that climate is a key concern, we would do a poor job of addressing the problem. Adversarial solutions will not suffice -- we must learn to hold the tensions of our differences and use this tension to inspire solutions that are better than we have yet imagined.
I don't expect very much from Santa Claus these days. I mean, he's been a disappointment over the years. My desires are few--power, money, and fame, that sort of thing--but he's yet to satisfy any of them. So I tried downgrading my requests to world peace and the end of international poverty. But that didn't work either. He still didn't deliver. This year I tried to be more realistic. I had just a few simple requests. It's been a difficult year so Santa, this would have been a good time to give me at least something that I wanted. But no! It's Christmas Day and I got up early to check under the tree, and nothing.
Though it has become popular in our culture for people of influence to project supreme confidence, speak in dismissive tones and dominate the "conversation," Jewish tradition teaches that there are "seven traits that characterize a cultivated individual" -- they all have to do with how we communicate.
Rush Limbaugh's remarks about Sandra Fluke, following her respectful and sincere testimony, can only be described as misogynistic, vitriolic, and a misrepresentation of the position of our student. In our vibrant and diverse society, there always are important differences that need to be debated, with strong and legitimate beliefs held on all sides of challenging issues. The greatest contribution of the American project is the recognition that together, we can rely on civil discourse to engage the tensions that characterize these difficult issues, and work towards resolutions that balance deeply held and different perspectives. We must return to the values that hold us together.