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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, September 26, 2009

The G20, Including India

Pittsburgh's G20 summit symbolizes the increasingly central role of major nations such as India and Brazil that are neither permanent members of the UN Security Council nor members of the prior  G7 (G8 with Russia) group of nations -- the U.S., Canada, U.K., France, Germany, Italy,  and Japan.  Economically, geopolitically, and with respect to climate change, it's surely wise to expand the governments participating in such summits, as unwieldy as such a large number of parties may be.

For nearly two decades -- since beginning to research the work of Chester Bowles, who twice served as U.S. ambassador to India -- I've taken a particular interest in that country.  Having since married a woman who is a citizen of India and had an opportunity with her to visit her hometown of New Delhi, I have continued to grow in appreciation for and curiosity about India.

Below are a few articles in recent months on a range of topics concerning India, beginning with an account of the growing prominence of the G20 (19 nations plus the EU):

WORLD   | September 25, 2009
Global Economic Forum to Expand Permanently
"The Group of 20, which includes developing nations, will replace the elite Group of 7 as a global economic forum."

BUSINESS / GLOBAL BUSINESS   | August 05, 2009
India Gets Caught Short as Sugar Prices Soar
"To meet growing demand, India will probably have to import 20 to 30 percent of the sugar it needs in the current fiscal year."

India submarine 'threatens peace'
"India's launch of a nuclear-powered submarine is a threat to regional peace and security, Pakistan's foreign ministry says."

Meeting Shows U.S.-India Split on Emissions
"India used a visit by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to dig in its heels against legally binding targets to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide."

Here, too, are a couple of pieces from 2006 combining personal, cultural, and policy reflections:

"From New Haven to New Delhi: Globalization and Its Human Scale"

"Marrying Cultures: The Magic of the Melting Pot"

7:22 am edt 

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Men Against Domestic Violence

Following on August 17 and July 13 and 18 posts below. . .

Attorney General Richard Blumenthal is among the men against domestic violence in greater Hartford. According to the Hartford Courant’s “Overcoming Battered Lives” series, some 30 men from businesses, television news, law enforcement and other agencies in Connecticut gathered September 22 to announce the initiative.

The men pledged to help Interval House, a nonprofit, domestic violence intervention and prevention program, combat the crime by raising money and helping to educate children and families.  One member of the group, Hartford Police Chief Daryl Roberts, had a September 20 opinion piece in which he urged citizens to counter a “culture of disrespect.”

Attorney General Blumenthal said, "Domestic violence is a cycle that can stop if we provide the leadership. I truly believe that men can make a difference. We're coming to learn, listen and lend a hand, but also to lead."

Richard Blumenthal has been part of a number of such efforts over the years, throughout the state. For example, he came to New Haven in 2005 to join Mayor John DeStefano, Police Sergeant Ricardo Rodriguez, educator Ras Mo Moses, regional Chamber of Commerce President Tony Rescigno, and regional Domestic Violence Services leader Sandra Koorejian at a City Hall event.  Blumenthal spoke, too, at the 30th anniversary occasion of Domestic Violence Services of Greater New Haven.

Look for more information about DV as October – Domestic Violence Awareness Month – begins.   One event is an October 7, 1:00 p.m. "Sound of Hope" remembrance of domestic violence victims, to be held at Long Wharf Pier in New Haven.  Contact Domestic Violence Services of Greater New Haven, a program of Birmingham Group Health Services.  Speakers on October 7 are expected to include Attorney General Blumenthal, New Haven Aldermanic President Carl Goldfield, and Client Services Manager Tirzah Kemp of Strive New Haven.

The October 2008 "Sound of Hope" event provides context.

It's encouraging to see more recognition of men's essential role in preventing, and accepting responsibility for, most domestic violence.  Here in New Haven, Yale pediatrician John Leventhal and SCSU VP Ronald Herron are two of the men who have been leaders.

7:33 am edt 

Friday, September 11, 2009

September 11, Eight Years Later

The wars in Afghanistan -- where the persistence of the Taliban continues to vex policymakers -- and Iraq, along with the explosive volatility of Pakistan, are constant reminders of the dangers the attacks of September 11 represented.  The anniversary of those attacks is an occasion to reflect on those dangers and their costs, human and otherwise.  Today especially we remember those who died eight years ago, and their families.

Last year, I posted on this blog about my own recollections of 9/11.  Those recollections are excerpted below:

"On September 11, 2001, I was on Manhattan's West 26th Street when the planes struck the World Trade Center just a few miles downtown.  Astonished concern soon turned to horror upon news of the second, third, and eventually fourth planes.  As we left our offices by mid-morning, the smell of explosive chemical fire and spread of dust were becoming evident.  By nature a fast walker, I sped with particular vigor uptown to meet my girlfriend at the landmark location we'd hastily arranged by phone: Zabar's on Broadway, just north of H & H.  (She was evacuating the Citigroup Tower in midtown, which seemed a plausible terrorist target.)  It wasn't the comfort of bagels and lox but merely a familiar rendezvous we were seeking.  We didn't have cell phones, and land lines were rapidly failing, too.  So Zabar's it was.

The experiences of those initial hours were surreal, as the magnitude of the attacks and their impact emerged, the human losses strained imagination, and we worried about what might come next.  Some memories remain vivid.  The next day's newspaper included photographs of people leaping to certain death to flee the flaming towers.  Posters with pictures of missing people were everywhere.  Shrines grew to honor fallen firefighters.  We explicitly thanked the police officers patrolling the streets.  The stir of helicopter surveillance overhead could be heard for nights to come. Images of the American flag roused a sentimental patriotism, immune to efforts by politicians -- then and since -- to exploit the attacks to divert attention from our national insecurities.

In some measure I will forever be a New Yorker, even years after returning to my home state of Connecticut.  Peace to those families who lost loved ones . . . years ago.  Those of us who walked away from the shock of September 11 will always remember it and them.  In living there is greater purpose, to savor our days and try to help make the sober brutalities of the world a little less brutal."
7:02 am edt 

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Health Care -- for All Ages

An August 16 post below concerned health-care reform.

President Obama's address to a joint session of Congress last night should help focus efforts to  to improve health-care access, quality, and security -- and the value of dollars directed toward those ends.

Earlier this week, "Long-Term Care: Grandma at 97" related some personal family experiences in this context.

11:02 pm edt 

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