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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.”  John Dewey and 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.
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Saturday, August 31, 2013

March on Washington, 1963 and 2013

The fiftieth anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom has drawn attention (for example, from NPR and the New York Times) throughout August.  My father participated in the 1963 march and returned to Washington for the commemorative occasion on August 28.

He reflected on the 1963 experience and its significance, in a Hartford Courant op-ed and a New York Times post, and in a local NBC TV story from D.C. this week.

Separately, my wife, children, and I were in D.C. last weekend, as mentioned in the August 25 post below.

4:23 pm edt 

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Visiting the Lincoln and MLK Memorials

Yesterday my family wasn’t marching, just strolling (and briefly biking) around the National Mall.   But we walked amid the anniversary marchers following their pilgrimage to the Lincoln and King memorials on Saturday – and we previewed that march on Friday.  It was the first time my wife and children had seen the Lincoln Memorial, and the first time any of us had seen the new King Memorial.

At the Lincoln Memorial, I read my children the inscribed Gettysburg Address and told them of the July 1863 battle that Lincoln recalled in his brilliant speech months later.  We looked out over the reflecting pool (along which we had just walked), to the Washington Monument and beyond.  We imagined the scene fifty years ago, the speakers on the steps and the crowd (which included my father) listening below.

At the King Memorial, among the powerful inscriptions of his words are these from 1967, in the final months of his life: “If we are to have peace on earth, our loyalties must become ecumenical rather than sectional.  Our loyalties must transcend our race, our tribe, our class, and our nation; and this means we must develop a world perspective.”

Beyond evoking the legendary event of August 28, 1963, this weekend prompted my own memories of three D.C. marches in which I participated from the late 1980s through mid-2000s – one for housing and two for women’s lives.  When my children grow a bit older and develop more endurance for sustained walking and standing in crowds, I expect we will participate as a family in such a march.  The need for collective protest and affirmation will surely continue.

1:41 pm edt 

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Historian Stephen Pitti on Families, Spanning Borders

In an essay for New America Media, Yale historian Stephen Pitti illuminates the experiences of families living across borders, from the “braceros” of the 1940s to today.

7:24 am edt 

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Guns and Domestic Violence

The relationship between guns and domestic violence is in the news, as it too often is on the crime blotter.

At the bottom of a New Haven Independent article on legislation proposed by Connecticut’s U.S. Senators, Richard Blumenthal and Christopher Murphy, I posted a comment containing various links.

Domestic violence has been a recurring topic on this blog, for example in a January 2012 (January 21) post.

7:56 am edt 

Saturday, August 3, 2013

John Lawrence’s “DOMEocracy” on Government Secrecy

A March 2013 (March 9) post mentioned John Lawrence’s new blog, DOMEocracy.  His latest observations, on “The Clandestine Congress,” as well as other historically informed posts, are incisive.

8:45 am edt 

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