It’s Independence Day, which means the streets will be filled with parades today and the skies with fireworks tonight. There will be lots of picnics and barbecues, plenty of flags and streamers, and celebrations from sea to shining sea.
Throughout the day and throughout the nation, people will correctly remind each other that “freedom isn’t free.” The United States won its independence from England not through diplomatic negotiations but in battle, and generations of brave men and women have fought and died to preserve our liberties. It’s important to remember that, and to honor their sacrifices.
But freedom also isn’t free because it comes with certain responsibilities. Free people have an obligation to treat one another with kindness and mutual respect. Freedom insists that the weak be sheltered, the sick cared for, the hungry fed, the oppressed freed. Freedom demands that we preserve our beautiful country and the world so that we can pass them on to our children and grandchildren in pristine condition. Freedom forbids bigotry, violence, hatred, oppression, and fraud. Freedom requires not only our blood, but our time, talents, and treasure. Freedom calls us rise to our responsibilities, be worthy of our blessings, and strive always to do as much good as we can for as long as we can.
Freedom isn’t free. It’s incredibly expensive .. and worth every bit of what it costs. So happy birthday, America. Let freedom ring.Posted in ethics, Personal Ethics, Social Ethics | Tagged 4th of July, ethics, Freedom, Independence Day, Personal Ethics, Social Ethics | Leave a comment May 24, 2017
What a thrill to learn that Dancing at Angel Abbey is a winner in the 2016 International Book Awards! Just got word that my novel won the New Age Fiction category, and will be recognized among many wonderful books in the IBA’s materials. Truly, it’s an honor.
We live in difficult times. With all the rancor swirling around, it seemed to me that we needed to throw some hope into the mix for balance. Dancing at Angel Abbey embodies my belief that, no matter how tough things seem, the world we live in is full of beauty, and love is everywhere if you just remember to look for it.
So, my thanks to Jeffrey Keen of American Book Fest, and the judges who devoted their time to the competition. Congratulations to all the winners and finalists! I’m humbled to be among you.Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment January 19, 2017
Tomorrow marks the beginning of a new era in America, as we say goodbye to one President and hello to another. It’s been a tough transition, with lots of anger and accusations from both sides. Sadly, I don’t think that will change any time soon, because so many questions remain unanswered and it’s so difficult to know quite what happened over the past months and who did what to whom.
But if Americans continue to point fingers and shout at one another, the very real problems facing our nation will continue to fester unaddressed. If we continue to demonize those with opposing points of view and squabble endlessly over quotes and tweets, it will be increasingly difficult for us to agree about anything. And if those of us who are disappointed and angry throw up our hands in despair, we won’t be able to bring about positive change.
Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “we must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.” Whatever the circumstances, we can always choose to hope that people will ultimately be led by their best instincts, that help will come from unexpected places, and that honest facts will triumph over false impressions, even if that triumph comes later than we’d like. Every new beginning comes laden with possibilities. If we choose hope, now and in the future, good things must surely follow.Posted in Angels, Personal Ethics, Presidential Campaign, Social Ethics | Leave a comment October 7, 2016
Recently, I had the opportunity to see Embrace, a stunning documentary by Australian filmmaker Taryn Brumfitt. After the births of her three children, Ms. Brumfitt posted a “before and after” shot of herself as she transitioned from a bikini-clad body builder to a lovely, but not quite so skinny, young mom. The internet went crazy. Thousands of emails and 100 million views later, Ms. Brumfitt went on a road trip, interviewing women around the world about why 90% of us report being “highly dissatisfied” with our bodies. Having seen some of the heartbreaking messages she received (women wrote to say that they felt “disgusting,” that they couldn’t stand to look at themselves, that they were even considering suicide) I applaud her for making the trip.
There’s a lot to absorb in Embrace. It exposes extreme “photoshopping” of body images in the media, and objects to social brainwashing that pronounces only certain body types attractive. The film calls out the objectification of women and sexualization of little girls in the media, and points an accusing finger at advertising that preys on women’s insecurities about their looks.
The weight loss, cosmetics and fashion industries make billions every year by persuading women to loathe themselves. Their advertising is based on the notion that women’s looks are what matter most, and that almost nobody looks the way she should. Meanwhile, too many women waste money, time and emotional energy trying to measure up to an impossible standard. All of those things could be better spent on building their careers, strengthening their communities, supporting social causes, or just enjoying the lives through which our bodies carry us so well.
Ms. Brumfitt says she’s learned to love her body. That may be more than many women will ever be able to say. But I have to agree that women were never created to be purely ornamental, and that our bodies are infinitely precious regardless of how they look. Unless tasteful nudity in a good cause offends you, I urge you to watch Embrace. It could just change your life.
For more information about Embrace, click here: https://bodyimagemovement.com/embrace-the-documentary/Posted in Personal Ethics, Social Ethics | Leave a comment September 27, 2016
Donald Trump has taken (in my opinion) some well-deserved heat for saying that his opponent, Hillary Clinton, doesn’t have the “look” to be President. No surprise, I suppose. The Donald is legendary for his observations about women’s appearance. The Clinton campaign has rightly called him out for it in a recent ad featuring little girls examining themselves in the mirror while some of the uglier things Trump has said about women get played in the background. It’s a powerful counterpoint.
And yet, I couldn’t help noticing last night that several of the progressive commentators who gleefully pounced on Trump’s refusal to take back his criticism of Secretary Clinton’s “look” (okay, he tried to deflect it by focusing on her stamina) went that way themselves. Over and over, they asked each other if they thought Hillary had “looked Presidential,” each time concluding that she had. But were their questions really so different from Donald Trump’s assertion?
I think not.
Maybe the commentators were talking about Clinton’s demeanor, not her physical appearance, but I can understand why her opponent might get confused. Here’s the thing. When women attempt to rise to the top, a ridiculous amount of air time and ink get spent on their fashion choices. For instance, when French attorney Christine Lagarde became the head of the International Monetary Fund, all anyone seemed to care about was that she dressed really well. (If you don’t believe me, Google her – the phrase “Christine Lagarde fashion” will immediately suggest itself.) By contrast, men of all heights, ages and body types get elected or appointed to positions of power without a word about their “looks.” Whether it comes from Donald Trump or the press, the message seems to be that only men naturally “look” Presidential – women have to work at it.
So, here are a few questions. Do we really believe that half the human race was created solely to be decorative? Are all of our other, God-given talents just inconsequential add-ons? Shouldn’t intelligence, education, experience, and temperament count for more than looks? And what does a President “look” like, anyway?
Both of the Presidential candidates showed up last night well-groomed and nicely dressed. Beyond that, shouldn’t it be their ideas and qualifications that matter? Each of them successfully won their respective primaries, and both of them enjoy the support of a significant percentage of American voters. That ought to be enough to take their “looks” off the table. We need a capable leader, not a fashion plate.Posted in ethics, Personal Ethics, Presidential Campaign, Social Ethics | Leave a comment September 19, 2016
Yesterday, I had the incredible pleasure of giving away 75 signed copies of Dancing at Angel Abbey. The giveaway took place at Hay House’s I Can Do It! conference in Philadelphia, a three-day event featuring some of the brightest minds in the self-improvement community. There were hundreds of wonderful people in attendance, many of whom cheerfully stood in line waiting for their copies as I signed away. It was an amazing experience, and I couldn’t be more grateful.
Wait a minute, you might say. You were giving away books? For free? Surely, the people who got them ought to feel more grateful than you do, right?
Not at all.
I’m sure the folks who got copies of my novel were appreciative, and I hope they’ll be even more so after they’ve read it. But those kind folks graced me with the opportunity to share a story from the depths of my heart, to introduce them to characters who feel like friends. They freely accepted what I offered, and I walked away feeling like a million bucks when the last copy was gone.
Corporations engage in carefully targeted “giving,” usually in an effort to woo prospective customers. It looks like philanthropy, but it’s really marketing in fancy dress. There’s nothing wrong with that, but I hope that the executives who plan and execute corporate giving don’t get too cynical about it. Generosity is a virtue in its own right, something to be enjoyed without regard for the quid pro quo. Yes, it’s nice if people buy what you’re selling, and no business can last long without sales. But the opportunity to give freely is a precious one, and always something to savor.
I was able to make the world a little brighter by handing out a few dozen books. Just imagine how it would shine if the mega-businesses would share a little more of their wealth with worthy causes. The more generous we are, the more good we can do, and the more good we do, the more cause we have for gratitude.Posted in Angels, Archangels, business communications, Business Ethics, customer relations, Social Ethics | Leave a comment September 11, 2016
Today, the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in D.C., New York and Pennsylvania, brings back a lot of difficult memories. It was one of those days that you never forget if you were old enough to understand what was going on. I remember the horror, the terror, the confusion, the sorrow. Oddly enough, I also remember what a gorgeous day it was, clear and sparkling with sunshine … until the airplanes began to crash.
Between my ties to D.C. and New York City, I know many people who lost loved ones that horrible day. Personally, I was more fortunate. Friends who worked in the Trade Center and the Pentagon miraculously escaped, or happened to be elsewhere when the planes came down. I feel guilty to have endured so little when others suffered so much.
Still, my own life has been changed by 9/11, and I imagine most Americans would say the same. It’s harder to trust these days, and easier to indulge ugly prejudices that masquerade as reasonable caution. But I believe that the best way we can honor those who lost their lives, on 9/11 and in the ensuing war on terror, is to remain true to the principles of religious freedom and rule of law that have long been the foundation of American society.
There’s a lot of talk these days about what makes America great. Personally, I believe that our greatness has less to do with strength of arms than strength of conviction. Today is a day to honor those who died, and to offer our love and support to those who remain behind. It is also a day to renew our commitment to preserving liberty and extending fairness to everyone in this beautiful country we call home.Posted in Personal Ethics, Social Ethics | Leave a comment September 2, 2016
When I blog, whether about ethics or angels, I usually try to keep it non-political. Yes, I live near Washington, D.C., where politics are as essential to the atmosphere as oxygen. And yes, I’m an attorney, which means that I follow the fates of various laws and lawmakers with intense interest. But I also believe that the things I write about – ethics, apologies and, yes, angels – transcend politics.
Or at least I did.
This Presidential election process has sunk so low that I can’t stay quiet about it any more. Admittedly, neither of the major party candidates is a saint. But their human fallibility doesn’t justify the vitriol being slathered on them. Naked statues, cartoons in black face, vicious name-calling, even threats of imprisonment and death … it’s frankly disgusting, and uglier than anything I’ve ever seen in the political process before.
I have a distinct preference between the two candidates, and I’m willing to bet you do, too. You might agree with my choice, or you might not. But either way, vilifying them accomplishes nothing good, and distracts from the important and necessary task of picking the most qualified leader. The candidate who emerges victorious from this reeking mudpit of an election will have to lead the nation and represent us before the world. Do we really want our President permanently stained with political muck?
It’s easy to choose between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump based on their stated positions and personal qualifications. There’s no need to demonize them. Please, everyone! Take a breath, calm down a little, and try to elevate the debate out of the gutter.Posted in Angels, Apologies, Archangels, ethics, Personal Ethics, Presidential Campaign, Social Ethics | Leave a comment August 26, 2016
We’ve all seen angels portrayed as beautiful beings with long curls, flowing robes and gleaming white wings. They appear in stained glass windows and statues, or pose gracefully on holiday cards. Angels even show up on TV and in movies sometimes.
The more famous angels are often depicted holding objects symbolizing their special missions. Archangel Michael wears armor and brandishes a flaming sword. Archangel Gabriel regularly carries a trumpet. Archangel Raphael is frequently portrayed with a medical caduceus to symbolize his healing talents. Archangel Uriel is often laden with a thick book to represent his wisdom. All four are widely recognized around the world, each neatly categorized in his own tidy little box.
But what if things are more interesting than that?
Many people claim to have been visited by angels, but their celestial visitors didn’t always look like a Renaissance painting. Witnesses have reported seeing what they believed were angels resembling balls of radiant light, seemingly ordinary human beings, or even animals. They come, they do something miraculous, and they vanish.
The word “angel” derives from the Greek world “angelos,” which simply means “messenger.” In other words, putting aside the hand props and feathers, an angel is a messenger from the Divine, bringing hope and help when we need it most. While some messages may come more easily from one angel than another – Archangel Michael’s assurance that Heaven protects us is so clearly his – it’s hard to believe that any angel could possibly be limited by human ideas of what his or her message should be.
To me, the angels are Heaven’s ambassadors, reaching out to us with encouragement, guidance and love. I tried to convey that belief in Dancing at Angel Abbey. The world can feel like a bleak and terrifying place, but things seem brighter if you allow for the possibility that a loving Creator is keeping track of things and sending messengers now and then to keep us all on track.
Maybe you see angels, maybe you don’t, and perhaps they’re more symbolic than real. But they come with wisdom and, when you see one in art or in life, it’s a good idea to pay attention. You might just experience a miracle.Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged angels, archangels, inspirational fiction, speculative fiction | Leave a comment July 12, 2016
The news of the past several weeks has been heartbreaking. First, the mass shooting in Orlando, then the suicide bombings abroad, then the shooting deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, then the police shootings in Dallas, then the courthouse shooting in St. Joseph, Michigan… Sometimes, it seems as if people have forgotten how to disagree without resorting to guns and bombs.
While writing Dancing at Angel Abbey, I spent a lot of time thinking about what the archangels might have to say to us. One of the things that makes the book special is that every chapter ends with an angelic message. Archangel Gabriel speaks most often, but many of the other archangels – Raphael, Uriel, Ariel, Azrael, Metatron, and Michael, among others – offer their thoughts at one point or another, always in distinct voices. It often surprised me to see what emerged on the page as I wrote down what they might say.
Dancing at Angel Abbey is a work of fiction, of course, and I can’t pretend to speak for the mighty archangels. But I imagine that, if we would listen, they would tell us that each and every one of us is a beloved child of the Divine, utterly unique and infinitely cherished. We were made to care for each other, and to settle our differences in peaceful ways. When one of us dies at the hands of another, an irreplaceable soul departs the world, never to return. Creation is diminished, and the angels weep.Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment ← Older posts