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Practically Idealistic blog
The title for this blog originated with use of the term “practical idealist” in this 1996 opinion piece, which asked: “To what kind of work should a practical idealist aspire?” A century and a half earlier, Emerson, in his 1841 essay Circles, wrote: “There are degrees in idealism.  We learn first to play with it academically. . . .  Then we see in the heyday of youth and poetry that it may be true, that it is true in gleams and fragments.  Then, its countenance waxes stern and grand, and we see that it must be true.  It now shows itself ethical and practical.”  Mahatma Gandhi embraced practical idealism in the 20th century, as did UN Secretary General U Thant.  Al Gore invoked it in a 1998 speech. In the context of this blog, the term is meant to convey idealism tempered but not overwhelmed by realism: a search for the ideal on a path guided by common sense.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

“Where and How Diversity Succeeds,” with “New Americans and Young Voters to Play Growing Role”

In their book Pax Ethnica: Where and How Diversity Succeeds (2012), Karl E. Meyer and Shareen Blair Brysac write (p. 195):

 “History may not repeat, Mark Twain is said to have remarked, but on occasion it rhymes.  There is indeed a repetitious assonance in the alarms voiced during the past two centuries about the perils of multicultural immigration.  Who are these newcomers flooding into North America, Europe, and Australia?  Don’t their true loyalties really lie with a foreign flag or faith?  Doesn’t that weaken the social cohesion vital to any democracy?  Aren’t foreigners robbing jobs from native-born workers and farmers?  Don’t they live in separatist enclaves, walling themselves apart from our common culture?  And why … do so many resist learning their host country’s ways and languages?  On the eve of the American Revolution, such questions were already being aired concerning German speakers from Middle Europe arriving with their strange religions and alien tongues…”

Now, in June 2016, Connecticut Viewpoints published my thoughts on how new Americans – and young voters – are joining the electorate and participating as citizens.

A version also appears via Medium.

6:52 am edt 

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Massacre in Orlando; The 2nd Amendment's "Well Regulated Militia"

Peace and comfort to the victims of the Orlando massacre, and their loved ones.

Action is needed to improve background checks and limit access to semiautomatic weapons, which far surpass anything needed under the 2nd Amendment for self-protection, or for hunting.  “A well regulated Militia” is what the 2nd Amendment and our society demand, for "the security of a free State" -- a state free from the tyranny of gun zealotry.

A Well-Regulated Militia is the title of Saul Cornell’s book on “the founding fathers and the origins of gun control in America.”

Here is my plea for reason.

6:09 pm edt 

Sunday, May 8, 2016

“Impressions of India: New Delhi via New Haven”

The New Haven Independent published my account of a recent family trip to India.

A version also appears at Medium.

5:14 pm edt 

Saturday, May 7, 2016

V-E Day Tomorrow, War and Peace

Tomorrow marks Victory in Europe (V-E) Day, the 71st anniversary of the announcement of the surrender of the German Nazi regime to the Allies on May 8, 1945.  This momentous historical event had personal angles for families around the world -- especially but not only those actually serving in the war.  

At the time, my mother (of Lutheran background) was a child in Germany, my father (of Jewish descent) a child in New York.  Seventeen years later, they would marry in an example of one of globalization’s happier effects

Peace, and Mother’s Day greetings…

8:51 pm edt 

Saturday, April 30, 2016

New Citizen, New Voter

This past Tuesday, April 26, was the Connecticut primary – an opportunity for my wife, Sahar Usmani-Brown, to cast her first vote as a new U.S. citizen.

She and I, along with our children, arrived early in the morning at our polling place (Wilbur Cross High School) to vote, with a few photos capturing the occasion.
2:10 pm edt 

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