Downton is not unlike our own time, and that may also be a secret to its popularity. But if dramatic change was all it had to offer, the series would be depressing, if not also scary. What the characters give us is hope that we can come through both morally and materially intact.
I still sometimes struggle reconciling the self of my youth with the guy who now has a mortgage and an SUV. But the minute I became a parent, my worldview shifted slightly on its axis and I began to view everything through new parental lenses.
At the end of the term, most of my students agree that our time together was well spent, and it was probably one of the best classes they have had. Hence, I would like to share my secret on student engagement:
It occurred to me -- what about accomplishing in regard to moving away from something, stop doing something, use my resources to put to rest habits and tendencies that are counterproductive to me and therefore others?
Advent is about the choice to nurture a world reflective of divine justice and individual choice. To participate in a challenge to oppressive powers. Mary chose to participate, to nurture a force pushing against her experience of an occupying empire and furthering equality among peoples.
Retailers would rather we open our wallets before our hearts. One motivating factor is the fact that there are less shopping days between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year, as well as retailers being nervous about consumer spending and overall concern about the economy.
What's critical to realize -- lest we believe that Christian doctrine actually compels its adherents to condemn gay people -- is that anti-gay religious sentiment has always been a matter of tone and focus, so a change here is both the best we're likely to get and possibly all that's really needed.
I actually do not know what system would be better, though I am willing to work with others to create one. Perhaps, a possible solution is more subtle than a change of systems. One of the communal moral corrosions that I see all around will help explain this -- a lack of satisfaction.
An elected official, or any leader, whether of families, small teams or large organizations, has signed up for more than just being an effective manager. We have to believe in them based on our experience of them, not on what they say to us.
To treat health care as an optional commodity, which should compete in the market place alongside the option of choosing a large flat-screen TV, fundamentally misunderstands what health care is and why its provision is a moral imperative in a society that claims to be a moral one.
People care about more than numbers. They care so much about subjective well-being that they are willing to trade years of life for improved quality of life. Cold reason is really not sufficient to assess anyone's quality of life. That evaluation requires a robust application of empathy.
There are now a multitude of character education programs being implemented in schools all across the United States. While in principle it might be important to teach character, one might ask, "Is it effective? What is it good for? Does it ultimately help academic performance?"
Eating disorders are phobic disorders; therefore, we have to challenge the phobia and support patients in confronting their fears. To do so, we must find something they value more than their eating disorder, something that's so important to them that it overrides this anxiety.
For those of us who travel around the world, there is no doubt that, while admired for many other reasons, the United States of America is increasingly losing the moral ground that it not only was proud of, but is trying to preach to the rest of the world.
Fear of plummeting over the "fiscal cliff" is driving the political discourse in Washington right now. The conversation, however, needs to be framed not as a political or economic issue, but as a moral issue.