New Clear Vision


constructive commentary for the chronically farsighted


Archive for the ‘Randall Amster’

All We Aren’t Saying

January 21, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Randall Amster

Can We Talk More About What Really Matters?

by Randall Amster

Sometimes it seems as if the dream of peace moves further into the distance with each passing day…

Outside the “radical fringes” of the political spectrum, the silence is almost deafening. This is despite the palpable and (by now) incontrovertible nature of the conjoined crises in our collective midst, as the nexus of economic, ecological, technological, and militaristic challenges before us deepens by the day. Drudgery, droughts, and drones, oh my! Reality possesses a “fantastic” quality that often makes it seem as if we’re moving through a colorized version of an old-school horror flick — a notion reified in the cultural near-obsession with trite invocations of the much-anticipated “zombie apocalypse.” (more…)

Please Forgive Us

December 19, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Family, Randall Amster

An Open Letter to the Children

by Randall Amster

Dear Children,

I know that this world must often seem confusing to you. It’s noisy, dirty, and filled with adults scurrying about their busy lives without noticing you all that much sometimes. It’s filled with rules and people telling you what to do, mostly without asking what you want to do. It’s also a world where adults teach you about all of the dangers around you, but not as much about the wonderful, beautiful things.

You see, things weren’t quite like this when we were kids. We had our rules and dangers, to be sure, but nothing like the ones you face today. Back then (which is not really that long ago) people talked to each other more, neighbors knew one another, and schools were less like factories and more like playgrounds. There were less televisions, computers, and phones calling for our attention, and there were more open spaces to play like kids are supposed to do. (more…)

Save the Children

December 15, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Current Events, Family, Randall Amster

Sadness and Hope from the Connecticut Tragedy

by Randall Amster

My eyes filled with tears as I heard the news of the mass shooting in Connecticut, where most of those killed were elementary school children. As a parent with children of similar ages, I can only nullimagine the grief of those who suddenly lost the most precious thing in their lives. And as a person concerned about the well-being of all peoples and the tenuous future of our species, I keep hearing myself think: What will it take to end the madness?

I am loath to use yet another tragedy to point out (again) the inherent violence and brutality of our society, from the exploitation of individuals to the decimation of nations. I am not eager to connect it back (again) to the human-initiated violence toward the balance of life on the planet, that vast interconnected web on which our very existence depends. I take no solace in preparing to rant (again) about the culpability of the media, the profligacy of corporate profiteers who put their wealth above everyone else’s health, or about the profound alienation and emptiness of modern life. (more…)

Manning Up

December 03, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Current Events, Politics, Randall Amster

The Just Actions of a ‘Fan of Sunshine’

by Randall Amster

Whatever one’s views about his alleged actions, you would need a pretty hard shell not to be moved by the case of Bradley Manning. Hero to some, traitor to others, this diminutive soldier has endured an unprecedented level of mistreatment, languishing in a largely incommunicado pretrial state for more than two years and facing repeated episodes of humiliation and degradation. Compounding this case is Manning’s status as a gay solider, for which he had experienced repercussions well before gaining international notoriety as a purported Wikileaks source for some of the whistleblowing site’s most damning allegations about governmental and military machinations around the world.

Being accused of revealing the “emperor’s new clothes” is likely to land one in hot water, but Manning’s treatment has crossed all bounds of fairness, decency, and legality. Having one’s life stripped down (literally) to its most basic functions, being confined in a space barely the size of a standard bathroom, having to formally ask even for toilet paper while standing at attention, and getting access to the outdoors for only 20 minutes per day is the sort of thing that could drive anyone mad. (more…)

The Beloved Community

November 29, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Culture, Randall Amster, Windy Cooler

Strengthening the Ties that Bind in an Era of Alienation

by Randall Amster and Windy Cooler

As we move into the winter of 2012, the days are getting shorter and the sociopolitical realities put before us seem, in some ways, to be darkening by the minute. How is it that we do not know how to live in the world, in those ways that have sustained and advanced the human experiment for eons? Today we have reactionary, regressive policies masking as “progress,” replacing the reciprocal bonds of authentic community with the wafer-thin ties of social networking and, in the process, turning our alienation and dysfunction into a nouveau spectacle. During the recent Israeli assault on Gaza, for example, a reporter for the Jerusalem Post actually asked residents in fear for their children’s lives if anyone could give an interview about how the shrieking sirens were affecting pets. It is so taboo to speak of what really matters with the people who matter that we have to be encouraged to do so. (more…)

Giving Back to the Future

November 22, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Culture, Ecology, Randall Amster

Making Peace with Generations Yet to Come

by Randall Amster

I dreamed I saw Joe Hill last night; he was alive as you and me — although that’s not saying much anymore. Maybe it’s a dose of 2012 cynicism creeping in, but it’s hard to shake the escalating feeling that we’re here merely on borrowed time. The strangest part of this sensation is that if one said it openly even just a few short years ago, it may have seemed irrational and alarmist; now, with empirical observations and the grim predictions of most credible scientists firmly in hand, it seems more irrational not to hold the view that the paradigm in which we’ve been living is rapidly approaching its prophesied closure point.

This does not, of course, relieve us of the obligation to get up every day and keep trying to promote the values of peace and justice in our lives, communities, bioregions, and the larger world. The apocalypse is perhaps the ultimate “off day,” but that doesn’t mean it’s also a day off. (more…)

Campaign Supernova

October 17, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Economy, Politics, Randall Amster

Blinded by the Light of an Electoral ‘Reality Show’

by Randall Amster

Coming up next on ‘The Oval Office’: sparks fly as the final two contestants go head-to-head on live TV, while a dramatic surprise will soon be revealed that could change everything — and YOU get to make the call on who wins the grand prize and who gets voted off the show. Stay tuned…

One can almost hear the narrator’s voiceover as the news is reported and the debate is joined. Presidential politics, and media-age elections in general, more closely resemble an illusory ‘reality show’ than any substantive engagement with the critical issues of the day. If the Association of National Advertisers could select Barack Obama as ‘Marketer of the Year’ for 2008, then perhaps this year will bring another level of media acknowledgment. Joe Biden for an Emmy, anyone? (more…)