In Dreams Begin Responsibilities

by W.D. Ehrhart I had a particularly weird dream last night in which I was giving the commencement address at a school where I’d taught for many years. For reasons known only in dreams, I ended up talking about post-traumatic stress disorder and how PTSD is the inevitable result of subjecting a healthy human brain to traumatic stress. The consequences are unavoidable. If you are subjected to traumatic stress and it doesn’t screw you up, you were screwed up before you encountered the traumatic stress. You will not make the scarring go away with counselling or group solidarity (in the case of soldiers) or anything …

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What’s the Point of History?

by W.D. Ehrhart The writer and philosopher George Santayana is credited with saying, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Mark Twain gets credit for saying, “History never repeats itself, but it often does rhyme.” Pearl Buck said, “If you want to understand today, you have to search yesterday.” Howard Zinn wrote, “If you don’t know history, it’s as if you were born yesterday. If you were born yesterday, then any leader can tell you anything.” I found myself thinking about that quote of Zinn’s soon after September 11th, 2001, when President George W. Bush explained that terrible day by declaring, …

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Will Wonders Never Cease?

by W.D. Ehrhart Well, the 2022 midterm election results have certainly been a surprise to just about everybody. While the Republicans—can we still call them Retrumplicans? Sure, what the heck (more on that anon)—did gain a slim majority in the House of Representatives, the Great Red Tsunami that was supposed to obliterate our two-party system and set the nation up for a fascist takeover in 2024 turned out to be more like a Little Red Puddle. Don’t get me wrong. The current state of domestic politics is still fragile and fraught with danger. Ron DeSantis is a lot scarier than Dolt 45 because DeSantis actually …

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War: What Is It Good For?

by Jean Stimmell In 2002, Vernon Klinkenborg, known for his odes to country living, wrote The Rural Life, assigning a chapter to each month of the year. In his November entry, he veers off subject, observing that World War I veterans “are impossibly old by now.” He appears to be making reference to what we now call Veterans Day, celebrated on November 11—but first observed in 1919 on the first anniversary of the armistice that ended World War I. Rather than dismissing these old-timers, Klinkenborg argues, we should bring them front and center to remind us of “the intractable knowledge that comes from a place …

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When A Thing of Beauty May Not Be a Joy

by W.D. Ehrhart I’ve been writing poetry since I was 15 years old. I’ve written hundreds of poems over more than a half century. That’s a lot of poems and a long time. But no poem of mine has ever troubled me more or caused me more difficulty than this one: Old Men Eating Lunch for Paige Once a month my pals and I eat lunch at the Amish Market in Mullica Hill. We chose that place because the food is cheap. And good. But we keep coming back to see the waitress. She’s always there, month after month, and such a lovely girl, always …

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Now and Then, Here and There

by Paul B. Nichols It’s difficult to find much encouraging news from across the planet these days. Worldwide disasters brought on by climate change, Covid variations hanging on and threatening to worsen by seasonal change, senseless U.S. gun-related attacks at schools, churches, supermarkets and other places formerly deemed secure, and the right-wing assault on our democratic values. Plus, right here in New Hampshire the deeply harmful influences of the Free Staters fester. Two other headline grabbers involve the harsh violence inflicted on thousands of Iranian and Russian citizens who are protesting against vile impositions of their countries hard-line authoritarian regimes. Historic and virtuous protests in …

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