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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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Sunday, August 29, 2010

Domestic Violence Awareness, September 30, October 6 and Beyond

Look for more information on the September 30 New Haven City Hall launch of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, which will include the annual Sound of Hope event on October 6 and an effort to encourage sympathetic men to wear purple ties on October 26.

Below, an August 21 post to this blog discussed related developments, including the "Stay at Home" Fundraiser of Domestic Violence Services of Greater New Haven.

8:16 am edt 

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Walk for Literacy on Saturday, September 25

New Haven Reads' Walk for Literacy is Saturday morning, September 25.

New Haven Reads is part of the Literacy Coalition of Greater New Haven.

6:53 am edt 

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Youthful Voting and Action

An August 11 New York Times article, “On Polling:  Obama's Youthful Voters More Likely to Skip Midterms ,” cited a July CNN poll that found 2/5 of those aged 65 and older said they were extremely or very enthusiastic about voting in November, versus just 1/4 of those under 35.

A decade ago, in October 2000, "Don't Mistake a Low Youth Vote for Apathy" touched on related issues.

7:20 am edt 

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Countering Violence Against Women, in the U.S. and Beyond

An August 7 post mentioned the films of Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy, who has explored women's rights in Afghanistan and elsewhere.

Earlier this summer, a July 31 New York Times article, “Afghan Women Fear Loss of Modest Gains,” reported “Those who have gained a measure of freedom and financial independence see little effort by officials to look out for their future.”

And a severely abused Afghan woman was pictured on the cover of Time.  Richard Stengel of Time wrote, “Our cover image… is powerful, shocking and disturbing. It is a portrait of Aisha, a shy 18-year-old Afghan woman who was sentenced by a Taliban commander to have her nose and ears cut off for fleeing her abusive in-laws. Aisha posed for the picture and says she wants the world to see the effect a Taliban resurgence would have on the women of Afghanistan, many of whom have flourished in the past few years.”

Activist Orzala Ashraf Nemat of Aghanistan was a Yale World Fellow in 2008.

Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn’s Half the Sky book and movement puts Afghanistan and violence against women in global context.
. . .

Locally, Domestic Violence Services of Greater New Haven (DVSGNH) is providing a support group for those wondering how to help their friends, daughters, nieces, sisters. 

According to the New Haven Register, “Sometimes those concerned parties call for legal information. Others want to know how they can best support the victim, and still others want to know how to approach their loved one about troubling behaviors,” said Sandra Koorejian, director of DVSGNH.

Posts to this blog on July 18, May 14, May 1 and other instances cited related laws and articles.  Please consider supporting the "Stay at Home" Fundraiser of Domestic Violence Services of Greater New Haven.

12:15 am edt 

Sunday, August 15, 2010

This I Believe and the My Hero Project

I recently looked at the website of the My Hero Project, with profiles by and about figures from different realms, from microfinance guru Muhammad Yunus to Erik Clemons of New Haven and LEAP.

Another website – which readers may have encountered as NPR listeners – is that of This I Believe.  The site contains both decades-old and recent essays on a wide range of beliefs.

Having years ago researched Chester Bowles – who twice served as U.S. ambassador to India and who also was governor of Connecticut and a Congressman from this state – I was especially interested in his essay.  Evoking FDR (in whose administration he had served following a lucrative advertising career), Bowles said:

“As long as two-thirds of the world is ill clad, ill housed, and ill fed, we have no right to relax in comfort.... As long as people live in fear, I must work with my fellow Americans to create a climate where faith can combat it. As long as cynical men tell me that freedom can be saved by borrowing the immoral methods of those who would destroy freedom, I must oppose them and persuade others to do so.  I believe that the survival of freedom depends not on blind fate, diplomatic trickery, or brute military strength, but upon the convictions by which we live. The most fundamental of these is a certainty that each individual life is a sacred, vital part of the universal whole, and that there is no force superior to the human spirit. I have seen ample evidence of this in our own day, when the millions of India, under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi, achieved their freedom without violence or bitterness. The growth of our own America has come not from the professional realists, who never worry of telling us of the things that cannot be done, but from men and women who know the power of great ideals supported by dedicated, individual effort. I believe that the democratic truths, which our Declaration of Independence once held to be self-evident, remain just as evident today. Consistent with our heritage, I believe that each of us in his daily life has the responsibility to reinforce these truths and to help extend them to all people everywhere.”
. . .

The This I Believe site contains a brief 2006 essay I contributed on "Cushioning Globalization through Global Families" as well as thousands of other commentaries that one can browse by theme.

7:36 am edt 

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Blood Donors Needed

The American Red Cross offers many opportunities for volunteers to donate blood, which is in particular demand during vacation periods when school and corporate blood drives are limited.

During Red Cross Month, a March 21 post to this blog had discussed related issues.

7:15 am edt 

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Literacy, Every Day

The Literacy Coalition of Greater New Haven is testing its new, still raw website:


Comments and suggestions are invited, before a fuller launch that will include a Spanish-language version -- and ultimately additional participating organizations:


6:30 am edt 

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Sharmeen Obaid Films

I recently revisited the website of Pakistani filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy, who before she was 30 had already made several respected documentaries.  She explores topics such as religion, culture, and human rights in countries including Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia.

7:41 am edt 

Sunday, August 1, 2010

For-Profit Colleges, Risks and Costs for Students and Taxpayers

The news last week, as reported in a July 23 New York Times article “U.S. Releases Rules on For-Profit Colleges ,” evoked a troubling Frontline report, "College Inc."

8:16 am edt 

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