Hope for a  Better World

Hope for a Better World

Violence seems to be all around us. Journalists and politicians, especially in the run-up to an election, love to create the burning platform – a sense of urgency that sends adrenalin pumping through our veins, and justifies their sound-bites and simplistic talking points.

 But it turns out that our sense of danger is not supported by the facts. Stephen Pinker’s extraordinary book The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined lays out the argument that in many tangible ways, the world is safer now than it has ever been. Read more about Hope for a Better World

Rock, Paper, Scissors

Rock, Paper, Scissors

I wrote a play some years ago, exploring the relationships and perspectives of three very different people, caught in wartime Afghanistan. At an early stage, my friend Michael Sanie expressed interest in writing an opera based on the play, and after several years of delays and struggles, here it is. The opera is in threeRead more about Rock, Paper, Scissors[…]

Music and Ego

Music and Ego

Music connects us. We celebrate the richness of life through creativity—expression of beauty, pain, our reality. Our task is to create better thoughts and feelings so people can be united. Unity is the result of letting go of the walls we build in our minds. Learning to say “yes!”—first to ourselves; then to each other. I’mRead more about Music and Ego[…]

Rhetoric vs. logic

Rhetoric vs. logic

President Bush is at it again. Not surprising, of course, he needs to defend his choices even if they were wrong ones. The latest example of faith leaping headlong over logic was from his 9/11 speeches reported here. “We will not leave [Iraq] until this work is done. Whatever mistakes have been made in Iraq,Read more about Rhetoric vs. logic[…]

Saint Osama?

Saint Osama?

This controversial piece was written to try to counteract the black-and-white, good and evil, freedom versus terrorist rhetoric that abounded following the 9/11 attacks. Now several years on, I think it still has merit. We see the US and other governments spending enormous resources on war, creating enormous pain and division, while there are many humanitarian causes that would not only have benefited directly from those funds, but that would go some way to building bridges between East and West, Christian and Moslem. It is deeply disappointing that fear and anger continue to prevail, where in truth compassion – and compassionate action – seems much more likely to create sustainable progress.

Attending Aurora Theater’s marvelous “Saint Joan” last week in Berkeley, I was struck by the parallels between the life of this fifteenth century warrior and our current nemesis in Afghanistan. Joan of Arc was a religious extremist who believed that God gave her precise instructions, independent of the advice of the established church or civil government. She also spoke of “France” and “England” in a day when both land masses were ruled in haphazard fashion by feudal lords. Read more about Saint Osama?

A Sailor’s View

A Sailor’s View

This was written for a US publication called “Spinsheet” that serves the yachting community. Following the attacks on New York and Washington, the paper asked readers to contribute their thoughts. With September 11th approaching again, I thought it was worth reprinting. Here’s what I wrote.

Sailing connects me with the planet, and with all the peoples of the world. It is easy to forget in these difficult times that the US is not the center of the universe, and that we are not the only people to have suffered a terrorist attack or to have lost innocent citizens in recent years. Yet every time we climb into a boat, and head away from the dock, we are physically connected, through the seas that surround the globe, to our fellow-travelers across the world. Read more about A Sailor’s View

Safely home again

Safely home again

We came in from San Francisco without event. The security here was a little tougher than we’d seen at Heathrow – our carry on bags were briefly searched at the gate right before we climbed on the plane.