An uplifting news item, poem, thought or quotation each day.
Archive of past entries

26 December 2004

Dave was my lab partner in high school physics. Our assignment one afternoon was to observe water waves, using a wide glass tray, full to the brim. When the lab was over, we prepared to take the tray back to the sink.

Dave was on one side of the tray and I was on the other, as we lifted it from its perch above our lab table, cautiously holding it level to avoid spilling. We started to walk across the classroom, and the tray gradually rose higher, from mid-chest to eye level. Now we were lifting it over our heads. I was about to panic, when the tray steadied, and we slowly brought it down.

"Why were you raising it?" Dave asked me.

"I thought you were raising it," I replied.

We dumped the water in the sink, and Dave said, "I think I know what was happening." I listened to his explanation.

"The tray is very full. Both of us wanted to make sure we didn't get wet. So without even thinking about it, we each tried to keep the tray tilted slightly away from ourselves. Thatís what made the tray rise higher and higher."

"What made it come down, then?" I asked.

"I decided in a moment to start pulling it down. Just an instinct. I knew we were in trouble if it got much higher."

Much later, contemplating arms races and the reason nations go to war, I appreciated Daveís wisdom, and his maturity in that moment. Tragedy will only be averted if one nation has the courage to disarm on faith, making that first, unilateral gesture toward peace.

- Josh Mitteldorf

25 December 2004

A radical disregard for status and material wealth;

Culturing an inner peace that supports nonviolence in outward action;

An unlimited capacity to forgive:

These are the virtues of Jesus.

 

24 December 2004

"The young do not know enough to be prudent, and therefore they attempt the impossible -- and achieve it, generation after generation."

 - Pearl S. Buck

23 December 2004

"It used to be thought that there was nothing that could be done about aging, and that there was nothing that could be done to extend the length of life for humans. But now we know that there is a lot that can be done about aging, and that people can live much longer than they used to live."
- James Vaupel, Max Planck Inst for Demographic Research

Human life expectancy has increased steadily for the last century and a half, at the rate of about 1 year of added life span for every 4 calendar years that pass.  Progress has come from a wide variety of sources: from public health to antibiotics to nutrition.  Significantly, the most dramatic advances in recent decades have added years at the end of life, increasing life expectancy for people who are already over 65.

Many technologies that are now poised to take off could change the way we think about aging: my favorite candidates include

"Of newborn babies in the developed world, half will probably celebrate their hundredth birthday." 

22 December 2004

"The soul should always stand ajar, ready to welcome the ecstatic experience."

- Emily Dickinson

THE SOUL should always stand ajar. 
That if the heaven inquire, 
He will not be obliged to wait, 
Or shy of troubling her.
Complete poems: CXXI

21 December 2004

"You do not become a "dissident" by deciding one day to take up this most unusual career. You are thrown into it by your personal sense of responsibility, combined with a complex set of external circumstances. You are cast out of the existing structures and placed in a position of conflict with them. It begins as an attempt to do your work honestly, and ends with being branded an enemy of society."
-Vaclav Havel

20 December 2004

"Ultimately we know deeply that the other side of every fear is a freedom."
-Marilyn Ferguson 

"One day, in retrospect, the years of struggle will strike you as the most beautiful."
-Sigmund Freud