The joy of nuanced relationships

One of my favorite parts of living in a small city in the Midwest is that many of us tend to wear multiple hats for each other. When you get to know someone new in one setting, if you stick around long enough, it's a pretty good bet that you'll encounter them again in at least one other setting. These multi-faceted interactions yield some nuances and texture in relationships that I think are hard to find in less personal settings, and perhaps larger cities.
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If I Were Mayor

I was glad to see today's article about the Indiana Association of Cities and Towns` "If I Were Mayor, I Would..." contest (PDF link on that last one). Such things can only improve the quality of dialogue about what we want for our communities. Local elementary school student Ross Mathews took the prize in the statewide contest for his essay; his plan focused on a few key areas: 1) making sure children in Richmond had better funding for school books and educational field trips, 2) adding more staple businesses to the West side of Richmond to save gas for those living there, 3) decreasing poverty through charitable giving events, and 4) keep Richmond clean so it looks nicer. Hats off to Ross for thinking beyond his years and looking selflessly at the big picture. If only mayoral elections took place on the true merits of such plans alone.

I haven't yet received my entry form for the "If I Were Mayor" essay contest to be held amongst myself and other local adult citizens, but in the greatest tradition of blogging, I shall now commence to ramble on regarding something about which no one has asked me:
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Justifying war, values training for war makers

Hung out to dryIn my eighth grade English class, Mr. Sweeney asked us to write a persuasive essay and then deliver it to the rest of the class convincingly. The United States had just sent its military to the Middle East to expel the Iraqi forces that had invaded Kuwait, and that was a hot topic of discussion and controversy. As a part of these events, the head pastor at my church had recently delivered a sermon on what constitutes a "just war." It was a good sermon - contemplative, balanced, and challenging without being preachy (beyond the normal degree to which a white man adorned in robes standing in an ornate pulpit speaking down to a congregation with an amplified and booming voice is "preachy"). Because I admired this man and trusted my church and had not yet at that point in my life encountered any other theories of war, I found myself thoroughly convinced that the use of force by my government in that case was justified. I thought it was a perfect topic to use for my own persuasive speech.
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