Category Archives: Members’ Blog

Thoughts about current events and ethical culture from our members

New Hope for a New Year?

Submitted by Andrea Perrault

hp2015As the year came to a close, I found myself reflecting on the events of 2014; the summer was hard, but as fall approached, I had found some positive things to contemplate. Then we had the results of the 2014 mid-term election – nothing much positive there.  As we headed toward 2015, the state of the country seemed to grow even more dismal. However, as the negative events multiplied, a spirit of activism seemed to have been awakened among the population.  As the killings in Ferguson, New York, and Cleveland garnered increased publicity, outrage on the part of many Americans was percolating. Civil disobedience now is occurring to renew the fight for civil rights and to expand the discussion about what is meant by a “civil society”. Will it be sustained or will it be the trend of the season? Continue reading

Political Third Parties: Saviors or Spoilers?

Submitted by Fred Hewett

uipOn January 18, 2015 the Boston Ethical Community will host a talk by Evan Falchuk, 2014 candidate of the United Independent Party for governor of Massachusetts.

In that race, Falchuk succeeded in getting more than 3% of the vote, thereby conferring official status on the United Independent Party. This means that the party can hold primaries and voters can register under the party’s banner. Continue reading

Book Review: A Fighter for Equality

Submitted by Peter Denison

SPLC_LogoA Lawyer’s Journey: The Morris Dees Story.  Morris Dees and Steve Fiffer.  2001.

This book was sent to me by the Southern Poverty Law Center because of my long standing financial support.  Morris was the son of an Alabama farmer who had always been friendly with Negroes unlike his bigoted siblings and neighbors.  As a boy Morris played with other boys, black or white, even though he didn’t question Southern segregation.  The beginning of the Civil Rights Revolution had little effect on him, but the violent southern reaction to it certainly did.  He was impelled to study law, which his father had always wanted, and when he opened practice he did get involved in some civil rights cases.  He had found himself able to start a profitable mail order business, having figured out how to send out letters which would get more than a one percent return.  He finally developed a business with his law partner Millard Fuller which he managed to sell for six million dollars.  At that time, he immersed himself in pro bono work in civil rights cases, defending Negroes who had been unfairly accused, or at least preventing a death sentence.  Millard left the partnership to found Habitat for Humanity.  They had been college friends and idealistic, but started to practice their idealism in different directions. Continue reading

The Passivhaus Project as an Ethical Idea

Editor’s note: The following post was written by Fred Gordon, who spoke to us on November 16, 2014.  The corresponding Powerpoint slides referenced in this post can be downloaded here.

Fred Gordon photoThe issue of climate change is both overwhelmingly important, and also distant and abstract.  It is unlike the imminence of war, where motives which we recognize as bad—aggression, hatred, xenophobia, and national aggrandizement—threaten to produce disastrous results, and we can point to these bad motives with distressed warning.  It is not like issues of social injustice, where the anger and pain of those who are victims remind us of the presence of the injured.  Global warming was not the result of any evil act, but centuries of quite innocent and even beneficent acts—think of the early enthusiasm for electricity, or automobiles.  But through a slow accumulation of scientific data, all of these things we thought were benign are now recognized as bringing about a result which is quite horrible.  But it is a horror which won’t come upon us for decades.  Global warming has therefore a kind of intellectual distance —we depend upon science to tell us what we can’t see much of day to day and won’t see the worst of until it is too late to do anything about it. Continue reading

What’s In a Name?

Submitted by Fred Hewett

rose250At the fall Members’ Meeting, this past October 26, the Ethical Society voted to change the name that it uses in public communications. Soon, we’ll be calling ourselves Boston Ethical Community in the newsletter, on the web, and in all of our publicity. Our legal name, for purposes of incorporation and finance, will remain unchanged.

Continue reading

Human Rights

Submitted by Marvin Miller

marvin-headEvery December, the anniversaries of the adoption of the U.S. Bill of Rights (Dec. 15 1791) and the U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Dec. 10 1948) remind us to think about how  human rights have fared in our country and in the world. Have they advanced or deteriorated during the past year? Have they been advancing or deteriorating in recent years? Continue reading

There IS Some Good News

Submitted by Andrea Perrault

newspaper3In my last two contributions to this blog, I expressed my deep concerns about the disastrous state of current events. This month, although Ebola continues to spread, ISIS still terrorizes, and President Obama’s inept security details alarm me, I do see some examples of good news.

Continue reading

November Focus on Climate Change

Submitted by Fred Hewett

globalwarming_seatemperatureThis month, we have two speakers on the topic of climate change. On November 2, Sue Stafford, a member of the environmental group Mothers Out Front presents a talk entitled “Climate Change Ethics”; on November 16, we’ll have Fred Gordon of Second Street Associates presenting a talk entitled “Addressing the Climate Crisis with a New Type of Building”. Continue reading


Submitted by Marvin Miller

marvin-headAs our country expands its involvement in various wars around the world, it becomes increasingly hard to think about other things. In the recent PBS series on the Roosevelts, FDR was shown saying, after Pearl Harbor, that the New Deal had to be put aside in favor of devoting all efforts to winning the war.

Instead of life, liberty, and happiness, wars generate death, repression, and suffering. Continue reading