uncommon sense

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    Truth or Consequences Paid Member

    IF THE ANCIENT CHINESE proverb has much relevance today, I would say that I am cursed by living in interesting times. Beginning zazen while wearing the uniform of a U.S. Marine thirty years ago, I began to question "authority"—not only the authority of the Marine Corps and ultimately of the U.S. government, but the authority of Zen teachers, and even my own authority, my own sponsorship of and participation in the growing war in Vietnam. A stateside friend sent me an essay by Albert Camus, "Neither Victims nor Executioners," from which I copied most of one paragraph in my notebook: More »
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    Whither the American Left? Paid Member

    While congressional Republicans have adopted the stance of the pit bull, Democratic party leaders have been sent whimpering and piddling to the sidelines like lapdogs in virtually every debate over the future of this country. While the Democratic party has been fractionalized over minor issues, it has remained largely silent in the face of a Republican onslaught. More »
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    Saying No to the War on Drugs Paid Member

    Nowhere is institutionalized American racism more obvious than in our judicial system. One in three black males between the ages of fourteen and twenty-eight is on probation or parole, or is incarcerated. Nearly fifty percent of the more than one million men locked up in this country are black or Hispanic. A black man busted with a quarter ounce of crack cocaine routinely draws a five-year sentence while his white counterpart, busted with a quarter ounce of powder, draws probation. More »
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    The War on Words and Images Paid Member

    It’s that time when responsible citizens pinch their nostrils tightly, hold their collective breaths, and vote for the lesser of many unsavory evils. Most of us have listened to enough empty rhetoric in this presidential year to gag a maggot. But the real political battlegrounds are not so much at the national level as in underground skirmishes over—speaking of empty rhetoric—something called “family values” and various forms of censorship. The following are a few examples drawn from a recent issue of the quarterly national Campaign for Freedom of Expression. More »