Category Archives: Human Spirit

Labor Day celebrates earning a living, but remember what work really means

Doing a job to help other people can give greater meaning to work. Photo by Eddie Kopp for Unsplach, CC BY-ND

Richard Gunderman, Indiana University

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on U.S. employment is dire. Economists estimate that 1 in 5 workers have lost their jobs. As a result, many people are finding it difficult to keep a roof overhead and put food on the table. Yet there can be more to work, and Labor Day provides an opportunity to see how through the writings of a woman who thought especially deeply about it, Simone Weil.

Weil looked at work as more than an exchange of money for labor. She argued that people need to work not only for income but also for the experience of labor itself. From her perspective, money does not solve the core problems of joblessness. Instead, work provides vital opportunities to live more fully by helping others. Continue reading

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Israel Defense Ministry Launches COVID-19 Voice Test for Americans

A company formed at the behest of the Israeli Ministry of Defense has begun collecting voice data from Americans to detect COVID-19 symptoms through technology with dubious diagnostic value, but highly profitable applications in law enforcement.

By Raul Diego  Published 7-2-2020 by MintPress News

The Israeli Ministry of Defense has launched a project to analyze people’s voices and breathing patterns using artificial intelligence (AI) in order to determine if they have COVID-19. The software allegedly listens for detectable “signs of distress,” ostensibly from the respiratory effects of the virus. A May 27 report in the Jerusalem Post stated that the research was already being conducted at several hospitals in Israel, where confirmed COVID-19 patients were asked to provide voice samples to be compared to those of a control group from the general population.

Results from the research were expected sometime in June. However, the study has now been expanded beyond Israel’s borders. Over one million voice recordings are currently being collected in the United States through a mobile app developed by Massachusetts-based Vocalis Health, under the auspices of the Israeli government. Continue reading

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How DC Mayor Bowser used graffiti to protect public space

Volunteers helped city workers paint ‘Black Lives Matter’ on the street near the White House. Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Rebekah Modrak, University of Michigan

When President Donald Trump sent heavily armed federal law enforcement officers and unidentified officers in riot gear into Washington, D.C. during the height of protests recently, Mayor Muriel E. Bowser responded by painting “BLACK LIVES MATTER” directly on the street leading to the White House.

While many spoke of it as a daring political act, for artists like me, it was also an act of urban intervention, an artistic act intended to transform an existing structure or institution, that reclaimed public space back for the public. And she accomplished this with little physical matter at all.

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To Provide Safety and Solidarity, DC Residents Open Doors to Protesting Teens Cornered by Police Crackdown

“I hope that they go out there today, peacefully as they did yesterday, and not blink,” said Rahul Dubey, who sheltered dozens of people, “because our country needs them.”

By Eoin Higgins, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 6-2-2020

Rahul Dubey, a Washington, DC resident who sheltered dozens of protesters in his home overnight, salutes neighbors and onlookers from his front door Tuesday morning. (Photo: kikivonfreaki/Twitter)

In a show of solidarity applauded as the kind of empathy and mutual aid needed in the face of brutal police crackdown, city residents in Washington, D.C. on Monday night opened their doors to protesters—mostly teenagers—fleeing police, keeping the demonstrators safe until curfew lifted Tuesday morning despite efforts from law enforcement to make arrests.

“I hope that my 13-year-old son grows up to be just as amazing as they are,” Rahul Dubey, who sheltered around 70 demonstrators in his home overnight, told WJLA. Continue reading

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‘I Took the Helmet Off and Laid the Batons Down’: Michigan Sheriff and Police Didn’t Disperse Their Town’s Protest—They Joined It

“Do I think this has solved the issue between police and unarmed black, human beings? No. But I do believe that this type of leadership is a positive step in the right direction and gives me hope for black men and women around the world and for all of humanity.”

By Common Dreams. Published 5-31-2020

Genesee County Sheriff Chris Swanson joins protesters as they walk for George Floyd. Screenshot: YouTube

Amid a national wave of uprisings against police brutality in response to last week’s brutal murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota—but in contrast to a wave of aggressive and violent responses from law enforcement to those demonstrations—a scene in Flint, Michigan that played out Saturday evening offered an alternative to aggressive police tactics as a local sheriff and his fellow officers laid down their riot gear and joined with those members of the community who came out to voice their outrage and sorrow.

When Genesee County Sheriff Chris Swanson, his deputies, and local officers were confronted by community members who marched on the Flint Township police station, witnesses described how Swanson told the crowd he wanted their pleas to be heard and that the police wanted to be in service of their demands and the protest itself. Continue reading

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Is it safe to visit your mother on Mother’s Day? A doctor offers a decision checklist

Many Mother’s Day visits this year will take place by video chats, as people put safety first. Stockwars/Shutterstock.com

Claudia Finkelstein, Michigan State University

As a physician, mother, daughter and socially responsible human, I’m finding Mother’s Day to be complicated for me this year, as it is for millions. Questions of whether and how to see my adult children and my own elderly mother present medical and ethical quandaries. As an associate professor of family medicine with a focus on wellness, as Mother’s Day approaches, I’d like to share with you my thinking about this using some tools to aid discernment.

Wouldn’t it be great if choosing time with parents or offspring were ever an easy decision to make? However, the answer is rarely that simple. This year, in the midst of a global pandemic and the need to continue to practice social distancing, the decision is even more complex than usual. Continue reading

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Restaurant Stunned After Customer Gives Entire $1,200 Stimulus Check as Tip for Struggling Staff

The tip was large enough to distribute $100 to every single employee.

By Elias Marat  Published 4-23-2020 by The Mind Unleashed

Small family-owned businesses have struggled mightily to remain open as the coronavirus pandemic rips across the country, with many struggling to pay employees’ sick pay or even continuing operating at limited capacity.

Such has been the case for one steakhouse in Arkansas which found itself receiving a tip its owners and staff will never forget. Continue reading

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Earth Day 2020: Hope Gardens for your future

 

During WWII, America united in the war effort. We had a unified voice in all things that would help win against an enemy that most Americans would not see personally. Children rushed to dump the contents of their piggy banks because we needed copper for bullets. Women became workers that built ships, tanks and airplanes for the war and we celebrated Rosie the Riveter. We planted Victory Gardens and encouraged food preservation through canning because tin was needed for the war and workers were needed for the war effort. In 1942, roughly 15 million families planted victory gardens; by 1944, an estimated 20 million victory gardens produced roughly 8 million tons of food—which was the equivalent of more than 40 percent of all the fresh fruits and vegetables consumed in the United States.

Key to America’s survival in the homeland was the national push for Victory Gardens; symbolizing independence and American’s ability to adapt. Those who did not garden were left at the mercy of survival solely by governmental rations of food, long bread lines and ration stamps. Those who planted Victory Gardens had the needed food to continue working as the nation struggled toward victory. Only two of these original Victory Gardens survive to today. One is located at the Richard D. Parker Memorial Victory Gardens in Boston’s Fenway and the other is the Dowling Community Gardens in Minneapolis.

Jump forward to today. We are once again fighting an enemy we can not see with our only defense being equipment and supplies that are hard to come by. Our meat processing facilities are threatened by outbreaks while our grocery stores can not keep enough stock on hand to meet the needs of everyone eating at home. Production in the United States has always focused on two separate markets; the consumer market and the commercial market. There is no adaptability between the two systems that have been specialized to specific markets. Packaging, size, quality, preparation, transportation and pricing all affect these two separate supply chains.

The problem is compounded by extreme weather associated with climate change. The western United States in undergoing a drought that makes the Dust Bowl of the 40’s appear meaningless. Bee and pollinator populations continue to plummet after the current Administration approved broad, expansive insecticides that are known to kill bee and pollinator populations.

Absent a federal response that meets the gravity of the moment, we are left to figure out how we are going to move forward with hope for our families and our future. Your grandmother would most likely encourage you to plant a garden to supplement your food needs for the short term. Chances are, she did it when your parents were young.

In a space of 20 x 30 feet (600 square feet), you can grow enough food to feed two adults for close to 8 months. If your family is larger, you can use more space to grow your Hope Garden. There is a plethora of information available online. Your county extension office, local DNR or any Master Gardener site can also assist you.

Preservation of food has come a long way since 1943. Options now include traditional canning, freezing or dehydration. All are effective and fairly simple to accomplish even at beginning levels. Fresh apple pie in the dead of winter is as American as pot roast with potatoes, gravy and a side or two of garden vegetables. Home made jelly on a slice of home-baked bread still warm from the oven has a certain nostalgia that is hard to beat. Sweet corn in January that tastes like it was picked yesterday is beyond rewarding.

This is the time to make your decision. This is the time to remove the sod from the space you want to garden in, so you are not fighting weeds and grasses among your vegetables. This is the time to choose vegetables based on your family’s preferences and source seeds or bedding plants to get the most from your growing season.

Yes, gardening is a commitment. So is marriage, being a parent or having a career. But food is essential to survival. Being totally dependent on others for your food places you and those you provide for at risk. Reduce your risk by realizing you can do this, you can have hope, and you can have a Hope Garden to gain that edge up in what appears to be a crumbling system whose consequences are not fully understood yet.

 

 

 

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Muslim women who cover their faces find greater acceptance among coronavirus masks – ‘Nobody is giving me dirty looks’

A woman wearing a niqab and headscarf, with other shoppers in Istanbul, August 13, 2018. YASIN AKGUL/AFP via Getty Images

Anna Piela, Northwestern University

Americans began donning face masks this week after federal and local officials changed their position on whether face coverings protect against coronavirus.

This is new terrain for many, who find themselves unable to recognize neighbors and are unsure how to engage socially without using facial expressions.

But not for Muslim women who wear the niqab, or Islamic face veil. Suddenly, these women – who are often received in the West with open hostility for covering their faces – look a lot more like everyone else. Continue reading

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Australia is Dropping Vegetables From Choppers to Feed Wildlife Starved by Fires

Helicopters are dropping thousands of pounds of food for animals starving to death amid Australia’s fires.

By Elias Marat,  Published 1-12-2020 by The Mind Unleashed

As Australia’s bushfire crisis continues to impact wildlife, aircraft have been deployed to feed thousands of starving wild animals who have been stranded by the blazes.

The government of the hard-hit state of New South Wales (NSW) has begun a campaign of airdrops across scorched regions, delivering thousands of pounds of root veggies —like carrots and sweet potatoes —from choppers flying above in a bid to sate the appetites of hungry colonies of brush-trailed rock wallabies, reports Daily Mail. Continue reading

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