New Clear Vision


constructive commentary for the chronically farsighted


Submission

November 13, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Missy Beattie, Politics

The Only Thing We Have to Fear…

by Missy Beattie

The stage was almost dark, quiet, but we could see 36 (Erma counted) tiered boxes with red curtains. Each was bordered with globes that were illuminated softly. Suddenly, a stringed instrument broke the silence as the lights brightened and the curtains of one of the boxes opened to reveal a cross-legged, turban-wearing musician playing the kamancheh. Then another curtain opened. Another musician behind that curtain. And another. And another.

The Sisterhood sat in a North Carolina concert hall Monday night, transported to an exotic world. Our jaws dropped. The Manganiyars, a 43-member troupe spanning three generations, are from Rajasthan, a desert region in India. Their performance suitably is called The Manganiyar Seduction. Seduction, yes — the visuals and music are alluring. During the extravaganza, a dancing conductor lead the musicians. He’d face the performers, then turn to the audience, back to the musicians, to the audience, clicking castanets and encouraging the audience to clap hands, mimicking the castanet-ing. Gracefully twirling, leaping, landing, this artist was an 80-minute, cardio-vascular demonstration interrupted only once when director Roysten Abel took the stage near the show’s end. (more…)

The Natural World

February 05, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Ecology, Evaggelos Vallianatos

From Abuse and Fear to Serving the Public Good

by Evaggelos Vallianatos

When I lived in Alexandria, Virginia, my home was near the Holmes Run Creek in the west side of the city. The Creek separated my neighborhood from high rises. It was partly natural and partly a cement ditch. Trees and bushes and flowers and the running water made the Creek beautiful, the only stretch of land that had the appearance of wild nature. I used to bike or walk some of the length of the Creek alone or with my dog.

In time, the Creek became my world, a place I went to reflect, exercise, and enjoy the natural world. I was not alone in appreciating the Creek. From 1979 to 2008, the 29 years I lived near the Creek, I noticed the number of people walking or biking by the Creek increased tremendously. The Creek became our neighborhood, where people visited for enjoyment. (more…)

Guns and the Ecology of Fear

January 29, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Current Events, Devon G. Pena, Politics

Challenging the Symbolic Politics of Hate

by Devon G. Peña

The ongoing debate on gun violence is certainly long overdue. As it unfolds within the mainstream media, it also strikes me as a discourse filled with revealing blind spots and shameful silences.

Blind spots and silences in the gun control debate

Let me start with some of the blind spots: Largely absent in this discussion is the fact that the majority of victims of gun violence are poor or persons of color. It is seldom noted that young black men are constantly under assault every time they step out, especially in any state like Florida with a “stand your ground” statute. It is seldom mentioned that young black and Latino males are already targeted by white men who can concoct any unfounded allegation of “feeling threatened” to justify shooting these young men.

It does not help matters that many of these killings are at the hands of the police. Silence surrounds the problem of police violence against people of color yet it has long been endemic. Proposals to put armed guards and police in schools will certainly not make the parents of black or brown students feel any safer since many school authorities have been sued and held in contempt for blatant racial profiling and harassment of students of color. (more…)

Unarmed Empowerment

January 11, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Family, Robert C. Koehler

Establishing a New Consciousness About Gun Violence

by Robert C. Koehler

“But my instinct was that if someone is shooting at you, it is generally better to shoot back than to cower and pray.”

This is the hidden argument for guns as America’s primary peacekeepers — that the debate comes down to gun ownership vs. helplessness.

Jeffrey Goldberg’s 7,000-word essay, “The Case for More Guns (and More Gun Control),” which ran in the December issue of The Atlantic — just prior to the Newtown killings — came down, for me, to the above sentence.

He made a number of quasi-reasonable points, the main one being that there are 300 million guns in America right now and it’s simply too late for gun control to be effective: “Only the naive think that legislation will prevent more than a modest number of the criminally minded, and the mentally deranged, from acquiring a gun in a country absolutely inundated with weapons.” (more…)

Hot Topic

July 13, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Ecology, Robert C. Koehler

Finding the Courage to Address Climate Change

by Robert C. Koehler

The heat backs up across the country, causing drought, wildfires, a mega-storm on the East Coast. More than 4,000 “hottest day” records have been shattered in the U.S. in the past month.

“The ecological ego matures,” Theodore Roszak wrote 20 years ago in The Voice of the Earth: An Exploration of Ecopsychology, “toward a sense of ethical responsibility to the planet that is as vividly experienced as our ethical responsibility to other people. It seeks to weave that responsibility into the fabric of social relations and political decisions.”

Social change of real value is slow-going indeed. How do we manifest responsibility to the planet? A serious consensus is building across the globe that doing so is crucial, that the weather extremes of recent years are no less than global warming in action, the result of centuries of unbridled, industrial-age irresponsibility toward the planet, and something fundamental has to change in how we live our lives and sustain ourselves, but our leadership, certainly in this country, seems incapable of addressing an issue of such complexity. (more…)

A Healing Justice?

May 02, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Current Events, Politics, Robert C. Koehler

Overcoming the State of Fear Through Restorative Practices

by Robert C. Koehler

This was the headline: “Zimmerman, Martin’s parents to face off in court.”

The words, of course, merely summed up a moment in the news cycle last week. We, the news-consuming public, were primed — by CBS, but it could have been any mainstream outlet — for a tidbit of potential drama the next day in the hottest murder trial around right now. But in the process, we were also silently reminded, yet again, that everything is spectacle. At the level at which we call ourselves a nation, nothing is serious, not even matters of life and death.

There’s something so painful about all this — painful beyond the horror of the crime itself, or the national murder rate. The 24-7 media trivialize the stakes and gleefully report the “courtroom drama” as a sporting event; but even more distressingly, the legal bureaucracy swings into motion without the least awareness of any value beyond its own procedures. It all happens with a certainty of purpose that generates the illusion that things are under control and social order prevails. But none of this has anything to do with what social order actually requires when harm has occurred, which is . . . healing. (more…)

Debt of Gratitude

February 22, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Economy, Family, Randall Amster

Less Earning, More Learning

by Randall Amster

I’d like to share a story, a personal story, a common story, an American story. For nearly two decades, I have carried the burden of a crushing student loan debt, well over six figures and impossible for me to fathom paying off in this lifetime. While I have written before about debt in a more generalized sense — advocating for a “Jubilee” as the ultimate stimulus and a chance for all of us to start anew — I’ve never connected it publicly to my own plight. The reasons are complex, but have to do with fear, fear of vulnerability, fear of judgment. I suspect that many people burdened by debt feel similarly and are often constrained to bear the pressures silently.

My story is relatively straightforward. I attended a private college (majoring in physics and astronomy, which did not yield any obvious career potential for me) and then a private law school. After clerking for a federal judge for a year, I was hired in the fall of 1992 to work at a large corporate law firm in mid-town Manhattan, complete with the accoutrements of privilege and compensation. I seemingly “had it all,” at least on the outside, and any rumblings of discontent — after a lifetime of being a working-class person — seemed somehow ungrateful. (more…)