On Howard Zinn

The country has changed a great deal since Howard Zinn boarded his “moving train” a half-century ago. It has changed along very different trajectories. Some have been rich in achievement, often exhilarating, and full of promise for a better future. Others, in part in reaction to them, are ugly and ominous in their import. Which will prevail? It’s hard to overestimate the significance of the question. It’s hard to think of a better way to gain a clear understanding of what is at stake, and what can be done about it, than by reading, and pondering, the fascinating story of Howard Zinn’s crucial and intimate participation at every point, in thought and action.

The Gift

David arrived at the Indian restaurant a few minutes early and made his way past the ceramic statues of elephants and the colorful paintings of women in saris to a table in the rear. He’d chosen this place to meet Maya because it was quiet enough to talk. It had been a year since he’d seen her—and then only at a distance, with her husband—but recently he couldn’t stop thinking about her. Something remained unfinished between them, getting in the way of his closeness with Lee, the woman he now was dating. He’d emailed Maya and she answered right away, saying yes, she’d been thinking of him, too, and shouldn’t they get together.

Here’s to the Skinny Kid with the Funny Name

Barack Obama—the keynoter at the Democratic Convention—is a new political talent with enormous potential. Speaking with striking eloquence of the “politics of hope,” he electrified the Democrats convened in Boston in language appealing to Republicans and non-voters as well.

From Waste to Wonder

Not long ago, as I was composting the rinds and peels collecting in my kitchen, my mind wandered to the words of a mystic rabbi who claimed that whenever any event happened in the world, it surely has a reason for existing—that it is up to us to find the spark of holiness even in our greatest mistakes. Those things that we’d like to hide from, tuck away, and forget, he said, must be held up to the light, because there is something in them, some energy which could hold the key to our happiness and fulfillment, that is calling to be redeemed.