Blog: From the Philosopher’s Desk


My Lessons from Prison, Visit 2

As class ended, students thanked me repeatedly for coming to visit them, making them “feel that we are not disasters forgotten by the world.” They promised to make sure that their professor gives me a copy of their magazine of collected writings and will sign their names so I don’t forget them. I’ll never forget them. Good teachers are hard to find.
And I’ll be back.

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“Just Help”

Yes, a restorative sense of belonging comes along with service. Making a contribution always boosts the spirit. And now, with so many feeling helpless in the face of frightening political and societal events beyond our control, “just helping” has never been a better idea. Opportunities are endless— over here, over there, by the side of the loner, at the door of the caregiver, shoes going to Somalia and shelter for the Somalian refugee.

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My Lessons from Prison

Inmates at the Fluvanna Correctional Center for Women can earn a two-year community college degree, beneficiaries of Doris Buffett’s incredible Sunshine Foundation. The week before our class, they read about Courage and Humanity from Little Big Minds. Their assignment was to be prepared with their own definitions of these concepts and with questions for me. They were so much more than prepared. They were amazing. Eager, respectful of each other and the professor and me, smart, honest, inquisitive, articulate, grateful for their educations, responsible for their lives past and future and focused on the present.

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Self-Love Comes First—Then Love the World

Self-love comes first. If we earn our individual senses of self-respect, if our minds and hearts are in good shape and receive our ongoing loving care—if and only if we’re right with who we’re making of ourselves, then we can make the planet our home. For sure, I can’t be right with anyone else, indeed […]

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A Grateful Heart

For all the truths revealed by philosophical clear thinking and re-thinking, the necessity of gratitude for experiencing joy may well be the most important.

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A Positive Election Plan from the Khan Family

Thank you to the Khan Family. You’ve shown the world a compelling generosity of spirit and redefined the meaning of patriotism. You’ve made the US look good and inspired many of its citizens toward active caring. Yes, we can remain positive and hopeful, reach higher and participate actively during election days—in our own lives, within the circumstances that every day brings.

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Sparking Writer Creativity

The Cooper stone masons, oblivious of my pecking at the laptop, helped me immeasurably. Their painstaking precision with several levels positioned just so, pieces of slate cut exactly to complement its stone neighbors, a piece here and there ever-so-slightly shifted after careful observation from all angles—a writing workshop just for me! As the simple, beautiful patio took shape, the writer peeking out the window found her groove as well.

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What the Dalai Lama Knows

“The only mistake you can make is to give up hope.” I often think of this statement from the Dalai Lama which closed his talk that I attended in 1998. His visit to this country last week heartened many, including President Obama in their meeting at the White House. About to turn 81, His Holiness was 77 when I wrote this blog. Truth ages well.

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