The Crisis Is Real, But We Have a Secret Weapon

Last Sunday, I wrote an op-ed on the COVID-19 crisis for the local newspaper in my childhood hometown, the Hazleton Standard-Speaker:

I’m writing from Los Angeles, where a Navy hospital ship is docked in the port, helping to treat the overwhelming surge of coronavirus patients flooding our health care system. I never thought I’d see such a day, but it’s here. And it’s a warning that we ignore at our peril.

The crisis is real. As of today, over 15,000 Americans have died from COVID-19. That’s five times the death toll on 9/11. In the coming weeks, millions will get the virus. We will lose more Americans than we did in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Vietnam combined.

But there is good news. Here in LA, the growth rate is starting to slow. In Italy where it was the worst, it is slowing significantly. In east Asia where it all began, the peak is far behind them, and the economy is starting to bounce back. If we can slow the growth rate across the United States, we can save hundreds of thousands, maybe millions, of lives.

I believe we can do it. But it’s going to require an unexpected weapon: compassion.

You can read the rest on the Standard-Speaker website if you have a subscription or if you want to buy a one-day subscription for $1.

36 Days To Go: The Universal Message of Christmas

This series has spent a lot of time on the true meaning of Christmas. In that spirit, we present the following videos. Since 2005, the famous TED conference has announced three annual prize winners, each of whom is given $100,000 and asked to deliver “one wish to change the world.” 2008 winner Karen Armstrong is one of my favorite theologians. She is a former Catholic nun who rose to prominence by comparing the Abrahamic religions with an engaging writing style. I haven’t yet read her latest book, The Case for God, but as Tyler Cowen says, it’s self-recommending. Her wish to change the world was for diverse religious leaders to agree on a “Charter of Compassion,” a set of universal morals that we can all live by. It’s hard to imagine a better way to continue our meditation on the true meaning of Christmas.

In response to this wish, TED asked six speakers from very different backgrounds to address compassion from their philosophy. You should carve out some time this weekend to listen to all six, but if you can only listen to one or two, step out of your comfort zone by listening to the ones that are most distant from your own philosophy or religion.   Continue reading “36 Days To Go: The Universal Message of Christmas”