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.
Thursday, May 28, 2020
Foster Care Month (May), Reunification Month (June)
8:46 pm edt
Sunday, May 24, 2020
CASA in the News
8:34 pm edt
"Many children in the foster care system demonstrate incredible
resilience, adaptability and flexibility throughout their life journey. This pandemic has presented challenges to adults that
children face as a normal course of life. Those of us who serve, support and encourage children have an opportunity to show
them that same ingenuity, flexibility and resilience.... If you or anyone you know
has ever considered foster parenting, now is the time. [Alternatively, be a CASA volunteer].... According to Harvard University’s Center on the Developing Child, 'The single most common factor for
children who develop resilience is at least one stable and committed relationship with a parent, caregiver, or other adult.'
CASA ... volunteers are often that person for a child in the foster care system."
Sunday, May 10, 2020
Eclectic Reading, from Lizabeth Cohen and Samantha Power to Michelle Obama and Mindi Englart
12:12 pm edt
Books I've read in recent months include
Lizabeth Cohen's Saving America's Cities and Samantha Power's The Education of an Idealist.
Cohen's book considers Ed Logue's work as a leading urban development administrator in New Haven, Boston, and New York, from
the 1950s to 1980s, and the lessons learned.
Like Cohen, Samantha Power, an acquaintance and classmate from undergraduate
days, is an author of multiple prior books, one of which--on genocide--won a Pulitzer Prize. Her new book combines personal
recollections and reflections with policy discussion. The Education of an Idealist resonates, and
includes many of her own compelling insights, along with quotations of others. For example, she cites Barack Obama--in
whose Senate office she served, as well as his presidential administration--advising (on page 148): "I have learned ... that if you are truthful, people respond, even if they don't agree with you. We have to
find our truth and not be afraid to be straight with people."
Recently I started Stretch,
a novel by friend Mindi Rose Englart, while my daughter and I are together reading Michelle Obama's Becoming.