Blog: From the Philosopher’s Desk


I Love a Dog Named Billy

Your small white body wrapped around a huge heart, beating with a distinctive murmur, brings joy now just as it did when I first saw your puppy face. A surprise gift for my mother from me in 1999, independently we both picked you out of the litter. You had presence then—you have even more now. Here’s a few of the million things that I love about you.

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Speak Up Against Cellphone Nonsense

Causing deadly harm behind the wheel, careless adoption of rude behavior any and everywhere, discomfort with face-to-face conversation, mental distraction and lack of focus—the damage of cellphone nonsense continues to stun me. What I find at times more surprising, however, is the unwillingness of so many recipients of the rudeness to speak up. It’s not okay that your coffee date interrupts your conversation at every “ping.” By opting for for ongoing phone use, your passenger demonstrates what matters more. When your companion at the concert, picnic, or ballgame prefers phone use to your company, just say something. Of course, there are often good reasons to keep a phone on while with others or in public, and a quick explanation conveys awareness and respect.We all know the advantages of the phone—providing directions, making and receiving timely phone calls, ending worry with a quick update, sending a text to clarify, receiving confirmation via email, seeking a little or lot of help, etc. Why don’t we better understand the disadvantages of non-stop devotion? Perhaps it’s this addiction’s hold on us that’s at the root of the culture of “busyness.”

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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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