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The Road to COVID-19 Enlightenment by Ricardo Hausmann – Project Syndicate

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We have yet to identify the best explanations for countries varying success in controlling the pandemic, which obviously is enormously valuable when designing public-health strategies with potentially huge consequences. But knowledge does not advance just by formulating plausible hypotheses.

CAMBRIDGE Certainty is like a rainbow: wonderful but relatively rare. More often than not, we know that we dont know. We may seek to remedy this by talking to people who may know what we want to know. But how do we know that they know? If we cannot ascertain whether they actually do know, we must trust them.

With COVID-19 inflicting massive economic costs around the world, the two billion people working in informal sectors will be the hardest hit. But if these workers are brought into the fold of the global economy, they can tap into huge stores of wealth that already lie at their fingertips.

Historically, we have bestowed our trust on the basis of science, experience, or divine inspiration. But what if the knowledge we seek does not yet exist, and even science knows that it does not know what is being asked of it?

That is the situation we currently find ourselves in with COVID-19 and the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes it. Our knowledge of the new coronavirus is rapidly increasing, but utterly inadequate. We have not yet learned much about how to treat the infected, much less figured out how to make an effective vaccine. We do not even know how to control the pandemic reliably through social-distancing measures.

True, some countries have been remarkably successful in reducing COVID-19 cases and deaths from terrible peaks. The four countries that have so far recorded the highest number of deaths per million inhabitants in a single week are Belgium, Spain, France, and Ireland. New cases in these countries have now declined by over 95.5% from their respective peaks (and by 99.1% in Irelands case), suggesting that their lockdowns actually worked.

And yet, while other countries that introduced legally stricter lockdowns (as measured by the University of Oxfords Blavatnik School) and reduced mobility more (as measured by Google) avoided early deadly peaks, cases have continued to grow exponentially. Countries in this category include India, Chile, Peru, Colombia, El Salvador, Kuwait, South Africa, and Saudi Arabia. And another group, including Israel and Albania, have experienced a resumption of exponential growth after they lifted successful lockdowns.

It doesnt take long to devise many hypotheses from the mundane to the speculative to account for these differences. And, obviously, identifying the best explanations for countries varying success in controlling the pandemic is enormously valuable when designing public-health strategies with potentially huge consequences.

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For example, large households may facilitate intra-family transmission of the virus, while a lack of refrigerators in some countries may force people to go to the market often. The unavailability of running water may prevent frequent hand washing. The publics willingness to wear masks may vary. The size of a countrys informal economy, households financial capacity to abide by lockdown measures, and the generosity of social transfers may be contributing factors. The seriousness with which lockdown measures are enforced, the level of trust in government, and even features of a countrys national character seem relevant as well.

But knowledge does not advance just by formulating plausible hypotheses. We must find out which ones hold water. And we can shorten the list by applying the nineteenth-century British scientist Thomas Huxleys dictum that many a beautiful theory has been killed by an ugly fact.

To do this, we just need to collect more data and make it available for analysis. In the United States, for example, about 40% of COVID-19 deaths to date apparently are tied to nursing homes. Likewise, a recent study of more than 30 European countries by researchers from Tel Aviv University found a relationship between installed nursing-home capacity and COVID-19 deaths.

These analyses are not rocket science. In fact, if anything, they are extremely crude, because they use national rather than postal-code-level data. Moreover, these studies appeared only after tens of thousands of people had already died from COVID-19.

Rather than being a scientific triumph, therefore, such findings illustrate how unscientific public-health policies to combat the virus have been. If we had assumed from the outset of the pandemic that we know that we do not know, we would have created rapid feedback loops to learn as quickly as possible from experience.

Specifically, we would have focused on gathering simple data about each COVID-19 case the date when the infection was confirmed, the patients age, gender, home and work addresses, means of transportation, and contacts and supplemented this with additional data on hospitalization and outcomes as the disease progressed. These data may already exist in many cases, but are hidden from society and often from officials by overzealous or turf-minded health ministers, and are not being made available to the many trained analysts who could contribute to policymaking. And as the OECD has suggested, governments could also adopt approaches that use individual cellphone data, Internet searches, and rapid telephone surveys, with due regard for privacy concerns.

Many governments believe that this kind of data-driven strategy for tackling the pandemic is beyond their capacity, and decide to piggyback on what other countries have learned by adopting best practices. This is the wrong approach. The pandemics effect on countries differs in ways that we currently do not understand and need to discover. Are people living in Peru in households without refrigerators actually more likely to be infected, for example?

Moreover, each lockdown and social-distancing regime is different, reflecting the many degrees of freedom in their design. Finding out what works and what doesnt on a daily basis is now critical, especially as we try to find ways to open up economies while holding down infection rates.

The fight against COVID-19 is still in its early stages, and it is not too late to start this effort. After all, Socrates said that knowing you know nothing is a contradiction in terms. Let us therefore make our knowledge of our ignorance about the virus, and of our ability to overcome it, a source of strength. Lets set ourselves up to learn.

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The Road to COVID-19 Enlightenment by Ricardo Hausmann - Project Syndicate

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July 3rd, 2020 at 5:47 pm

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Religious faithful still ignore the Enlightenment. Thanks, Tom Paine. – Patheos

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If anyone needs a reminder of supernatural religions power over the conservative human mind, note that the European intellectual awakening of the 17th and 18th centuries the Enlightenment centuries later, is still a work in progress.

The movement, characterized as sicle des Lumires in French (literally century of the Enlightened), synthesized radical new attitudes about God, reason, nature and humanity into a human- rather than God-centered worldview, the Encyclopaedia Britannica asserts.

Central to Enlightenment thought were the use and celebration ofreason, the power by which humans understand the universe and improve their own condition. The goals of rational humanity were considered to be knowledge, freedom, and happiness, according to the encyclopedias online description of the movement.

Today, although more than two-thirds of the United States population claims belief in divine beings and an affiliation with Christianity, roughly a fourth of Americans are largely irreligious (many of them atheists) and are unaffiliated with any faith group and the so-called nones (the religiously unaffiliated) are among the countrys fastest growing religion-related demographics. Western Europe is already much further along the path of jettisoning supernatural faith altogether.

It wasnt always this way, and in historical terms, open religious doubt and faithlessness are a relatively new cultural phenomenon. In fact, although religious skeptics and atheists have always existed in human societies, after the eruption of impiety in ancient Greece and until the Enlightenment, divine religions for the vast majority of human beings on the planet were virtually the unquestioned be-all, end-all of existence. Nonbelievers and doubters heretics in medieval parlance were for centuries, even millennia, brutally persecuted and officially executed, often in depraved ways.

So the Enlightenment provided a shockingly welcome window of opportunity for pan-European doubters which were legion, it turned out to say what they really felt about the Christian faith that continued to fundamentally control not only their lives but their thoughts across the continent.

All you need to understand how suddenlyunchained Enlightenment intellectuals felt is to read a few lines from American revolutionary gadfly Thomas Paines scorched-earth assault on institutional Christianity in his arguably atheistic screed Age of Reason (which, today, is a bargain on Amazon at 99 cents for the Kindle edition). Paine was completely unrestrained in his Christianity-bashing fervor.

In Part II, Chapter I (The Old Testament), Paine wrote:

People in general do not know what wickedness there is in this pretended word of God. Brought up in habits of superstition, they take it for granted that the Bible is true, and that it is good; they permit themselves not to doubt of it, and they carry the ideas they form of the benevolence of the Almighty to the book which they have been taught to believe was written by his authority. Good heavens! it is quite another thing; it is a book of lies, wickedness, and blasphemy; for what can be greater blasphemy than to ascribe the wickedness of man to the orders of the Almighty?

Actually, in my view, Paines fraught beliefs are part of a continuing 21st-century infatuation with religion, at least his quasi-Deist philosophy that viewed God as uncaring Nature writ large, not the deity of the Bible who care about and attended to everyone very, very personally. But, still, an invisible divine.

If you read Age of Reason, it is indistinguishable from atheism a no-holds-barred, full-throated trashing of Christian theism and its foundational holy books, except that Paint incongruously also brieflypurports to believe in God. Somewhat.

So, Paine, like many religious skeptics and quasi believers then and now, just couldnt bring himself, publicly or privately, to reject the existence of some kind of divine power. He could comfort himself in the ageless dodge that Nature is so astonishingly complex and majestic it is incomprehensible that it wasnt created by some supreme power beyond objective human confirmation.

After reading Age, I challenge anyone to explain how anyone can still convincingly believe in God who, as Paine does in the book, intellectually demolish every single element of Christianity, sacred or otherwise. Im sure he was not alone his day and age, and this assumption of divine actuality remains deeply embedded in the human family today, if still permanently unverifiable.

Considering that reason, the heart of the Enlightenment, objectively showed the intellectual unverifiability of supernatural claims, one would have thought the movements principles would have logically led to an even more secular future than the Enlightenment promoted at the time.

But, no. Most of the billions of global representatives of our Homo sapiens (man the wise) species are still in absolute thrall to unseen, unsubstantiated, unverified deities.

Yet, happily, pessimism doesnt reign among modern secularists, who are still tilting at what have so far generally proven to be windmills.

The Enlightenment is still winning is the confident-sounding headline in a June 17 post in the Freedom from Religion Foundations blog on the Patheos hub. Author James A. Haught in the piece asserts that the Enlightenment launched the long-running conflict still driving much of politics in the West. He claims that the movement over centuries has won many battles against conservative, reactionary forces against its ideals, including succeeding, for example, in getting evolution taught in American schools.

However, evolution is only partially and often unenthusiastically taught in some American schools today, so the victory is only partial. Lots of Americans, a majority perhaps, still see evolution as a challenge to their belief in the inerrancy of the Bible, and continue to fight its insertion in school curricula tooth and nail (and by subterfuge), as they have for long decades since the Scopes Monkey Trial (if not before).

On and on, through recurring cultural battles, progressive principles that began in the Enlightenment have prevailed, Haught opines.

Perhaps, but history also teaches us that all of that can be lost in a heartbeat if a cataclysm such as war or plague descends on humankind, and people rush back to faith for comfort and hope, as Americans did after the Revolutionary War.

So, lets not take a victory lap just yet, while keeping up the good fight.

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COVID-19: UN highlights Buddhas message of solidarity and service in belated Vesak commemoration – Republic World – Republic World

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Lord Buddha's message of solidarity and service to others is more important than ever, UN chief Antonio Guterres has said, affirming that only through global cooperation can the nations deal with the economic and social consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Secretary Generals remarks came during a belated commemoration of the International Day of Vesak. The commemoration of this years Vesak Day, which marks the birth, enlightenment and passing of Lord Buddha, was postponed from May due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Buddhas teachings can also help remind nations and people of the unity that is needed to meet the COVID-19 challenge, he said on Thursday.

Citing a sutra, "Because all living beings are subject to illness, I am ill, as well", Guterres said this timeless message of solidarity and service to others is more important than ever.

"It is only by combining our energies and expertise that we can address the tremendous fragilities in our world today. Only through international cooperation will we ease the economic and social consequences of the crisis, which are pervasive, but place particular burden on the world's most vulnerable people and countries, he said.

The UN chief said that it is only by strengthening bonds across society that "we will recover better and build a healthier, more inclusive, sustainable, resilient and equitable world.

Indias Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador T S Tirumurti said during the virtual commemoration by Sri Lanka and Thailand that the COVID-19 pandemic had brought untold suffering into peoples lives.

We now, more than anytime else, should remember the Four Noble Truths of Buddhism, which teach us to bring the cycle of Dukka or Suffering to an end. As the Buddha said No one saves us but ourselves, he said.

Tirumurti highlighted he importance of embracing the Buddhist values of compassion, service to humanity, peace and non-violence, equality and equanimity and the middle-way practised for 2,600 years.

These values, one way or another, find or should find resonance in the Charter and work of the United Nations in a world where forces dividing us are numerous. As the Buddha said 'In the sky, there is no distinction of East and West', he said.

Tirumurti also recalled that he had overseen the making and gifting by India of the replica of the Buddha of Sarnath to Sri Lanka, assisting in erecting the replica of the 1st century Torana Gate of the Sanchi Stupa in Malaysia and in Indias renovation of priceless Buddhist heritage sites in many parts of the world.

Guterres underscored that the sense of shared fate and collective compassion is both the spirit of the Buddha and the animating force of the Charter of the United Nations, which just marked its own 75th birthday.

President of the General Assembly Tijjani Muhammad-Bande said the COVID-19 pandemic was putting the world under enormous strain and affecting everyones life.

"We are facing a global health crisis unlike any other in the 75-year history of the United Nations and it affects all of us. In times of great anxiety, faith can be a significant source of comfort and community resilience, he said, adding that the Buddhist teachings and guided practices, such as give, even if you have a little, can be a balm for those grappling with the pandemic today.

Muhammad-Bande said this years Vesak Day commemoration reminded all to uphold the values of kindness, compassion and empathy.

May this commemoration serves as occasion to remind ourselves of the importance of tolerance, mutual respect and understanding - that are enshrined in the Buddhist teachings, he said.

Vesak, the Day of the Full Moon in the month of May, is the most sacred day to millions of Buddhists around the world. It was on the Day of Vesak two and a half millennia ago, in the year 623 B.C., that the Buddha was born. It was also on the Day of Vesak that the Buddha attained enlightenment and passed away in his 80th year.

In 1999, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution in which it recognised the International Day to acknowledge the contribution that Buddhism, one of the oldest religions in the world, has made for over two and a half millennia and continues to make to the spirituality of humanity.

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Petition calling on Edinburgh University to rename a building named after David Hume attracts over 1000 signatures – East Lothian News

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David Hume Tower is one of Edinburgh University's most prominent building

A petition calling for Edinburgh University to drop the name of renowned Enlightenment philosopher David Hume from one its most prominent buildings due to his racist beliefs has attracted more than 1000 signatures.

The move comes as universities across the UK and USA have begun to rename campus buildings honouring historical figures who held racist views.

The petition, created by student Elizabeth Lund, is calling for the famous philosopher and Edinburgh University alumnus name to be removed because it is a very simple step that might help create an anti-racist culture at the university.

The petition suggests that the 14-storey building which bears Humes name should instead be named after Julius Nyerere, the first President of independent Tanzania who is also a graduate of Edinburgh University.

David Hume was a Scottish enlightenment philosopher, economist, historian and essayist, famous for his work on human nature and morality.

He is widely recognised as one of the UKs most accomplished philosophers and has been called The Father of the Enlightenment, however he also has a long history of spreading racist views.

In 1754, Hume wrote in an essay: I am apt to suspect the Ne***es to be naturally inferior to the whites.

Ms Lunds petition, which is being hosted on the website change.org, has so far amassed 1,252 signatures.

The petition reads: David Hume wrote racist epithets not worth repeating here. Naming the most prevalent building on campus after Hume sends a very clear message to black, indigenous and people of colour students at Edinburgh that we are willing to overlook this racism for the sake of alumni glory.

We should, however, not boast about the racist alumni of Edinburgh, especially given the institutions long history of involvement in the field of eugenics. The university should be taking great steps to provide further support and resources to BIPOC on campus. This is a very simple step that might help create an anti-racist culture at the university.

A spokeswoman for the BlackED Movement said: As a Black student at Edinburgh University, it is hard to feel a sense of belonging. The fact that the University still does not have any disciplinary or report measures against racism to protect their BAME students reinforces the sentiment of alienation.

However, with the Black Lives Matter movement, students are gaining strength in their voices to demand changes long due. One of them is renaming David Hume Tower.

There is a danger for the University to continue commemorating a single story about David Hume, disregarding his racist views of Black students. Glorifying Humes bigotry supports white supremacy and the idea that scientific racism was widely used to justify slavery and colonisation. In fact, scholars like Hume helped to justify through eugenics.

The major counterargument to this change was that there is the erasure of Humes achievements in history. The same way we do not need buildings and statues named after Hitler in Berlin to learn about him shows that this is not erasure of history. There are still books and the internet for that. People can still use his theories but the tower should be renamed.

We hope that people will understand the non-overt disrespect, offence, and racism that Black students have to go through at the University of Edinburgh.

A University of Edinburgh spokesperson said: The University takes issues around acknowledging its past very seriously. We are working with our students, staff and members of the community to thoughtfully explore how we address these matters. As this process continues, we will continue to encourage dialogue to ensure we are fit for purpose in the 21st century.

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Groundhog Day TV Show in the Works, Says Stephen Tobolowsky – Collider.com

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InGroundhog Day, which just might beBill Murrays best movie, jaded weatherman Phil Connors is stuck in a time loop in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania on Groundhog Day until he can become a better, more enlightened person and turn his life around by finally moving it forward. Now, it sounds like that idea is about to loop back again on all of us, proving once and for all humanity hasnt quite reached the level of enlightenment it needs to yet. According to actor/national treasure Stephen Tobolowsky on the Production Meeting Podcast, aGroundhog DayTV series is in the works.

Tobolowsky didnt reveal any plot, story, or structure details (hey, weve proven time loops work in TV onRussian Doll, why cant they work here too?), but the man who iconically played Needlenose Ned Ryerson in the original film charmingly spilled the beans on how casually he himself found out about the project.

Image via Columbia Pictures

Theres talk about a Groundhog Day series in the works. One of the producers I was working on The Goldbergs or Schooled, one of those shows over on the Sony lot, and one of them saw me and goes, Oh, Stephen! Stephen! Were working on a Groundhog Day TV show. Could you be Ned for the TV show? I go, Sure. Yeah. No problem But its Ned thirty years later. What has his life become?

I am not going to lie: The idea of a Tobolowsky/Ned-centered take where he comes to terms with his identity post-Phil encounter tickles me to no end. Plus: We would actually get to find out which of Phils many groundhog days stuck as the main continuity, as that would be where this shows timeline would kick off (I imagine). Beyond his work in the aforementionedThe GoldbergsandSchooled, Tobolowsky is kicking ass in his regularly occurring showOne Day at a Time, and I would love to see him get more and more leading TV work. Final question for yall: Whats the over-under on Murray ever appearing?

For more onGroundhog Dayand Murray, here are my favoriteSNLstar film vehicles.

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Groundhog Day TV Show in the Works, Says Stephen Tobolowsky - Collider.com

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Cancelling history: Red Guards and philistines are running riot across the Western world – The Times of India Blog

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Western societies seem bent on committing suicide. The best lack all conviction, wrote WB Yeats, while the worst are full of passionate intensity. With no moral core to hold them together, societies are falling apart. The cancel culture virus originated in the US, is already firmly implanted in the UK and strains have been found in Australia. Its highly infectious, has no known vaccine or cure and is extremely lethal to the careers of actors, athletes, authors, celebrities, comedians, commentators, editors, journalists and professors. In the drive to cancel history, statues of perceived racists and slave traders Mahatma Gandhi (in Ghana, Washington, London), Winston Churchill, Cecil Rhodes and even sons of slave traders are toppled and vandalised. But Rhodes scholars are reluctant to renounce their scholarship and the role of Africans and Arabs in the slave trade seems curiously neglected. Literary, childrens, movie and TV classics are given the chop.

Like its close chronological cousin the Wuhan virus, initially its main targets were the elderly with mental comorbidities, but now its also infecting the young. The main carriers of the virus are, in the words of Free Speech Union founder Toby Young, offence archaeologists: people who trawl through past pronouncements hunting any objectionable phrase and mobilise an online posse that swarms into action to shame cowering victims and have them fired. Truth is secondary to narrative, facts to feelings and biology to ideology. Innocent kids subjected to massive amounts of harassment because theyve been incorrectly identified are just roadkill on the moral highway of vicious teenage bullies.Theres been a fierce backlash to a Washington Post story about warmed over vindictive behaviour bytwo women of colour, whose 54-year-old Caucasian target was fired from her job.

During my college years in Kolkata, I fell in love with the beauty, solitude and serenity of Victoria Memorial. Should that symbol of the Raj be destroyed? In an article for the International Herald Tribune, I condemned Talibans destruction of the Bamiyan Buddha statues. A comparable act of vandalism would be to destroy the Taj Mahal. Taliban are owed an apology. Far from atavistic, they were decades ahead of their time in cancelling history. Universities were once bastions of critical inquiry. Operating behind impregnable ramparts of intellectual freedom, they interrogated every kernel of religious dogma. Todays campuses are hotbeds of enforced right-think. In the name of tolerance and enlightenment they promote bigoted intolerance. Offensive speech is literally violence, but literal violence is speech by other means. David Shor, a data analyst for the Democratic Party, was fired for retweeting a scholarlypaper that non-violent protests are more politically effective.

Like the reign of terror after the French Revolution, mobs are caught in a vicious purity death spiral. Indifferent to context, rejecting human fallibility with the possibility of contrition and redemption in favour of ritualistic confessions and self-abasement as during Chinas Cultural Revolution, policed by wrong-think lynch mobs as the current avatars of the Red Guards: thats a vision of dystopia.The philistines want to cancel history, art, literature and humour. We can be certain that some words and acts of the presently ascendant self-righteous will cause deep moral offence to future generations. Perhaps they should cancel themselves instantly. If nuance is banished because it can become a booby-trapped offence tomorrow, most people will be frightened off from entering the public arena for the contest of ideas on difficult societal challenges.

The Western world has entered a perfect social justice storm with a heady brew of every form of real and confected identity grievance. If you believe all lives matter, there is only one race, the human race, women deserve to be safe in women-only spaces, climate alarmism needs fact-checking: Out! People not personally responsible for past injustice must take the knee but those personally responsible for current violence and looting are celebrated as heroes. The blood-dimmed tide is indeed being loosed upon the world.

DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author's own.

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Lets Finish the American Revolution – The New York Times

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As baffling as it is to find statues of traitors, slaveholders and killers of Union soldiers ensconced in many a prominent square, consider the historical discordance of Custer County, S.D.

The hard beauty of the Black Hills, sacred land to Native Americans, overshadows the county, the main town and the state park, all named for George Armstrong Custer. The hard history was shaped by the slayer of those native people. Custers willful trespass into territory promised by treaty to the Sioux set the stage for the last violent encounters between New World and Old.

Just under 20 miles from Custer is Mount Rushmore, which President Trump plans to visit this Fourth of July weekend. A mere seven miles from Custer is the Native American Rushmore a still unfinished carving of the Oglala Sioux leader Crazy Horse, 641 feet long and 563 feet high.

Here is the American paradox in a grid of stark geology.

No country can last long without a shared narrative. You wonder, on an Independence Day when the mood of the country is more angry and fearful than its been in a long time, if this nation can ever have such a thing again.

I think we can. But to make that happen, it will take an imaginative projection of the best instincts of those four imperfect men whose visages are chiseled into stone, as well as the Sioux warrior honored just down the road.

Before we get to them, lets talk about him. Trump wants a fireworks display in the pine forest around Rushmore in the middle of fire season. There will be no required social distancing for the crowd. And the worlds most powerful narcissist will be projecting his dream to have his face carved next to those of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt.

There you have it everything that is so awful about him in one appearance, putting the lives of American citizens and a national landmark at risk to protect his eggshell ego.

But what about them? Rushmore was created by Gutzon Borglum, a confidant of leaders of the revitalized 20th-century Ku Klux Klan. Before Borglum took his jackhammers to the Black Hills, he had started work on the largest shrine to white supremacy in the world the bas-relief sculpture of Confederate leaders in Stone Mountain, Ga.

Still, few people think of Borglum when they gaze up at the four presidents. Instead, the visitor is prompted to think of what those men did for a fragile democracy.

Most revolutions dont end well. From the kindling of the Enlightenment, France was consumed by a wildfire of fratricide and state-sanctioned beheadings in the late 18th century. Russias 1917 revolt eventually led to an epic of mass murder rivaled by Hitlers Holocaust. And the Irish finally threw off centuries of British rule only to plunge into a bloody civil war in the 1920s over the terms of that independence.

The American Revolution, birthed in part by the looting of British merchant ships in Boston Harbor, was the exception, until our own Civil War over the Original Sin that had been ignored in the founding documents. The protests of 2020 are a legacy of rage dating to 1619.

Each of the Rushmore presidents furthered the ennobling sentiments of men who tried to fashion a democracy from a revolution. Some may never forgive Washington for his slave ownership. But among the nine presidents who owned slaves, only Washington freed them all in his final will.

He also kept the United States from becoming a monarchy when the Trumpians of the day wanted to make him king.

Jefferson was a slaveholding racist who wrote all men are created equal in the Declaration of Independence. The words outlive, and outshine, the man.

Lincoln needs no defense, except to say that those who want to destroy his statues now should read Frederick Douglasss nuanced take. Lincoln fought the anti-immigrant Know-Nothings, the Trumpians of his day, and ensured that the radical truths of Jefferson would apply to four million formerly enslaved people.

Teddy Roosevelt was no friend of the continents original inhabitants. But he evolved. His Rough Riders were multiracial warriors. And as the 20th centurys most influential progressive president, he invited Booker T. Washington to dine with him, the first time any president had broken bread with a Black man at the White House. This, at a time when it was difficult for a Black man to get a meal in a restaurant.

Each of them pushed the revolution closer to an ideal of true equality. And Roosevelt was the first to add universal health care among the truths we hold self-evident.

You can honor the work they started, and desperately needs to be finished, by ignoring Trumps ahistoric histrionics this weekend and watching Hamilton, which is streaming to many parts of the world starting Friday. This founder was an orphan, son of a whore, Washingtons better half, and in the person of Lin-Manuel Miranda, hes a face of the American tomorrow.

At the core of the musical is the founding reimagined, re-mythologized, rough-edged. A mess of contradictions, like this nation on its 244th birthday.

The Times is committed to publishing a diversity of letters to the editor. Wed like to hear what you think about this or any of our articles. Here are some tips. And heres our email: letters@nytimes.com.

Follow The New York Times Opinion section on Facebook, Twitter (@NYTopinion) and Instagram.

Timothy Egan (@nytegan) is a contributing opinion writer who covers the environment, the American West and politics. He is a winner of the National Book Award and the author, most recently, of A Pilgrimage to Eternity.

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ISSUES OF FAITH: Be grounded in gratitude, compassion – Peninsula Daily News

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STOP WHINING AND feeling sorry for yourself, we often hear people say. Why dont you just learn to count your blessings? Youd be so much happier if you did.

Unfortunately, such urgings no matter their good intent rarely help us. Why?

Because shifting our focus from what our lives lack to the abundance that is always present is difficult spiritual work.

It takes practice. And if youre like me, it takes daily practice.

Gratitude is the expression of appreciation for what we have, independent of monetary worth.

Spontaneously generated from within, it is an affirmation of the gift and goodness of life.

It is a recognition that we are not alone, that life has meaning, and that there is reason to be giving thanks even when life has brought us to our knees.

Yes, it is true: gratitude will make us happier.

It strengthens relationships, reduces stress, improves our health and helps us stay resilient in the face of hardship.

Whether we choose to write a few sentences in a gratitude journal or simply take a moment to silently acknowledge all that we have, giving thanks transforms us in many important and helpful ways.

So, how do we ground ourselves in gratitude when so much in life seems difficult and uncertain?

Cultivating gratitude starts with noticing the goodness in life, such as the natural beauty, clean air and abundant water of the Olympic Peninsula.

Or the people who care about us, make us laugh or inspire us with their music, art and ideas.

Or the animals that bring us delight with their antics.

Or the fact that our hearts are still beating and another day beckons.

These types of gifts are so easy to overlook while living in a materialist culture that encourages constant wanting, and that names possessions as the primary source of happiness.

Its so human to forget about them while being consumed with the pandemic details, the political debates or with our human tendency to separate humanity into us versus them.

Unfortunately, envy, fear, judgment and cynicism are the very thieves of gratitude. They are of no help to us now.

No matter the challenges in our individual lives, each of us has so many reasons to be grateful today and every day.

Recognizing this helps us stay open to life, and to become more aligned with the loving goodness at the heart of creation.

But if you are still struggling to find your way to gratitude, allow me to share some tips from someone who has experienced great suffering and yet is known the world over for his joy, the Dalai Lama:

Every day, think as you wake up, today I am fortunate to be alive, I have a precious human life, I am not going to waste it. I am going to use all my energies to develop myself, to expand my heart out to others; to achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all beings. I am going to have kind thoughts towards others, I am not going to get angry or think badly about others. I am going to benefit others as much as I can.

I am not a Buddhist, but I like many of the Dalai Lamas perspectives on living a good and meaningful life.

He argues that the purpose of religion is to facilitate love and compassion, patience, tolerance, humility and forgiveness.

I think hes onto something.

Staying open to life during stressful times is not an easy thing to do.

Whining and venting do have their short-term benefits, and I wouldnt ask anyone to forgo them completely. But if youre tired of being stressed out, grumpy and unhappy, Id like to suggest grounding yourself with the practice of gratitude today and every day.

________

Issues of Faith is a rotating column by five religious leaders on the North Olympic Peninsula. The Rev. Kate Lore is a minister at the Quimper Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Port Townsend. Her email is [emailprotected]

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Men Jeans Market Segmented by Applications and Geography Trends, Growth and Forecasts 2024 – 3rd Watch News

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July 3rd, 2020 at 5:47 pm

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Contending with racial justice in Vermont goes back years. So does the backlash. – Burlington Free Press

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Thousands of Vermonters attended protests and rallies over the last month to stand in solidarity with Black Americans, but not all were free from disruption. To some, this didn't come as a surprise.

People around the state joined in national protests against the deaths of Black Americans, such as George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, at the hands of police. Events stretched beyondBurlington, regarded as one of the more left-leaning hubs. But calls for Black Lives Matter in Vermont, with awhite population of 94%,have not been openly receivedby all.

"I believe that Vermonters think of themselves as very enlightened advocates of racial equality," said Stephen Wrinn, author of "Civil Rights in the Whitest State: Vermont's Perceptions of Civil Rights, 1945-1968." The book explains "why residents' reactions to the movement did not conform to their self-perceptions of racial enlightenment."

He pointed out that Vermont was the first to prohibit slavery and sent large droves to fight in the Civil War.

"Despite that attitude," Wrinn said, "I think the perception from outside of Vermont is, you know, they talk the talk. But do they walk the walk?"

The state has had a fractured relationship with race through the years.

"Vermonters were very much in favor of the national Civil Rights Movement when it was an effort to desegregate the south in the north's image," Wrinn said, an enthusiasm that didn't always sustain in Vermont when it came to the state changing its own laws and practices.

Wrinn pointed toracial unrestthat has come to the forefront of Vermont's history, including:

More: Kiah Morris: The Vermont incidents that led to a black lawmaker's resignation

The "Protest for George Floyd!" filled Battery Park, and then during a march spilled onto North Avenue and the parking lot at the Burlington Police Department.(Photo: Leonora Dodge/courtesy)

Recent efforts to address racism have seen support across the state. But they also received some local push back last month.Examples include:

A video posted on Twitter showed an altercation between an individual and protest attendees at a Black Lives Matter protestin Craftsbury.

The video opens with a shot of a pickup truck, with two individuals seated in the bed. One held a Confederate flag, the other a "Don't Tread on Me" flag. Someone can be heard repeatedly asking the driver of the truck if he doesn't believe Black lives matter. The man eventually yelled that he does not.

"Is that what you wanted?" he asked. At the end of the video, he said he doesn't have a problem with Black Lives Matter. "I have a problem with what most of it stands for."

Pablo Coddou, one of the organizers of the protest, said he expected maybe 30 attendeesto show up to the rally, but estimated the actual turnout likely exceeded 200. He wasn't surprised the incident occurred but didn't necessarily expect it, either.

He has since come to acknowledge that this is part of the reality. Coddou didn't think his rally brought problems into town, but just exposed what was already there.

In the early morning hours of Sunday, June 14, 2020, the Montpelier Police Department located spray painted graffiti applied to the city sidewalk and Vermont Statehouse walkway across from 120 State St. The messages referenced government spending and did not appear to reference the Black Lives Matter community mural project nearby.(Photo: Courtesy of Montpelier Police Department)

Hundreds gatheredin Montpelier last month to create a mural replicated across the country, as large yellow letters declared "Black Lives Matter" in front of the statehouse.

More: Black Lives Matter mural in Vermont vandalized with mud, oil

It didn't last untouched for long.

The mural got "smeared with mud, dirt and oil"that same weekend, according to police. Graffiti included messages like "Put it back call Trump."

"Sadly, I wish I were really more shocked that somebody vandalized this," City Manager William Fraser said.

While it might not be the majority, acurrent of racism exists in Vermont, he said. Fraserfelt mostin Montpelier supported messageslike those expressed in front of the statehouse.

"But not all."

"The First Amendment protects speech that a lot of us would find incredibly offensive," Gene Policinski said. "There's nothing in the 45 words that says we have to be polite, even make sense and certainly nothing that prevents us from being crude andrude and insulting."

Policinski is thechief operating officer of the Freedom Forum Institute, an organization dedicated to advocacy and education surrounding the First Amendment.Not all speech is fair game, including that which can be interpreted asa true threat.

Policinski offered an example: Getting into an argument with someone and saying you hope a meteor flies out of the sky and kills them likely won't fit this standard. Holding a knife during an argument and threatening to kill someone with it, however, could be interpreted as a true threat.

"The antidote to speech you don't like is not to try to suppress the speaker you don't like," he said. "But to speak out loudly with your point of view."

The Institute defines a few other categories that are generally not protected by the First Amendment. These include:

More: Winooski man accused of hate crime in verbal assault case involving child

More: Black Lives Matter: Burlington crowd protests for George Floyd, marches to police parking lot

More: Black Lives Matter flag in Milton torn down, stolen

Contact Maleeha Syed at mzsyed@freepressmedia.com or 802-495-6595. Follow her on Twitter@MaleehaSyed89.

This coverage is only possible with support from our readers.Sign up today for a subscriptionto the Burlington Free Press.

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Contending with racial justice in Vermont goes back years. So does the backlash. - Burlington Free Press

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