December 16, 2014

My wife and I had the sheer joy of taking two of our grandchildren to see a performance of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer recently. This is the 50th year of the fabled story of the reindeer with the genetic anomaly who leads Santa and the other reindeer on Christmas Eve during a major snowstorm.

But while it is easy to get caught up in the wonderful songs, the beautiful staging and the happy ending as Rudolph saves the day, the real message of the play is how we all need to tolerate differences and accept those who are not in the “mainstream.”

Rudolph with that red nose is made fun of by his peers, one of the elves who wants to be a dentist instead of making toys is taken to task by his boss, and the town of misfit toys is filled with sad and misshapen gifts that never made it into Santa’s bag. The toys only wish is to be useful and respected, despite their oddities.

For a play that is 50 years old it is heartening to see that Romeo Muller and Robert May, who wrote the play and Johnny Marks who wrote the music for Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer had the foresight and the compassion to develop a story and a score that reminded the audience that differences should not be the basis for judging people. Rather what matters is not outward appearances or life choices but what value those who are different give to others in making the world a better place. This is why Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is a timeless classic.

As my wife and I left the theater we talked about Rudolph with our young grandchildren, who were enthralled with the play, but we didn’t miss the opportunity to tell them about the importance of accepting those who are different. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is considered a children’s Christmas play but it has a universal message that all of us need to remember.

The Tragedy of Homelessness

December 8, 2014

Homelessness in Massachusetts is at crisis proportions. Our state, certainly, one of the richest in the country, is currently third in terms of families without shelter, behind New York and California. Some say that our numbers are so high because we have a more precise system for counting homeless families, but really what does that matter, our state still has far too many families without shelter.

If we look at numbers, there are currently 4800 homeless families in our state with over 1700 living in hotels and motels because there is no room in existing shelters or because there is an insufficient number of affordable apartments here in Massachusetts. The hotel/motel sheltering option is in many ways a human scandal as they are not only costly to the state and often place people in locations far away from schools and other important services but also living in one room with two or three children is just not acceptable for women whose husband has abandoned them or divorced them without providing child support. We can do better in Massachusetts.

The homeless crisis is not going to magically disappear. Already the numbers of families and individuals has reached record proportions, and the really cold wintry weather has yet to set in. Staff members of homeless organizations, like Fr. Bill’s and Mainspring, where I am a board member, are overwhelmed by the numbers of clients seeking shelter and services so they can get back on their feet.

Our incoming governor, Charlie Baker, has made homelessness a high priority and that is welcome news but action by his new administration is months away. In the meantime during this holiday season your generosity to help out the homeless would be greatly appreciated. You can go online at and make a donation or call the donation office to make a pledge at 855-435-7326.

Although homelessness can hit anyone and any family, it bears repeating that the stereotype of the homeless person is not the alcoholic or drug addict wandering the streets. Most of the homeless are families, people with mental or emotional problems, young people estranged from their families and increasingly veterans who return to our state with the scars of war.

Thank you in advance for helping out those in need.

Women and Justice in a Muslim Country

December 6, 2014

Some thoughts on Muslim justice from a female Moroccan judge

Asian-Americans in the Massachusetts Political Arena

November 22, 2014

The expanding presence of Asian-Americans in Massachusetts politics

Patriots-Packers – Packers-Patriots

November 20, 2014

It’s funny how the experiences of your childhood never leave you even at a later stage in life. I was born and raised in Wisconsin and lived and breathed the Green Bay Packers. There is an old saying in the Badger state that fall is the season for deer hunting and watching the Packers.

Well I am now here in the Bay State for nearly fifty years and root for the Boston teams, but I just can’t get those Wisconsin temas out of my head. Our daughter Laura is headed to Lambeau Field in Green Bay next weekend to cheer on the Patriots in front of 70,000 friendly but rabid Packer fans. She is a brave Patriots fan and I am sure will survive the catcalls of the home town folks as she yells for Brady and the Bunch.

She will be sitting with my godson who got the tickets and of course is one of those rabid Packer fans; he even has a piece of the frozen tundra from the famous Ice Bowl of the 1960s in his basement Packer shrine.

I certainly will be watchiang the game, which is likely to be a tune-up for the playoffs and perhaps the Super Bowl. But my problem is that nagging childhood support for the green and gold. In my head will be a little voice that cries out for the Packers, while in my heart will be a little throbbing in support for the Patriots. Which way to go is the question?

I kind of hope for a Patriot blow-out, which will for a time silence the Packer in me, but if the score is close or controversial than I know I will be torn apart inside as I try to take a side and justify my tortured fandom.

Of course, what happens on next Sunday in Green Bay, the little town that could, is only a game and shouldn’t be taken too seriously. But the issue is not so much the game but how I watch the game and how I think about the victors and the defeated. You just can’t get rid of childhood memories that easily. Here’s to the Patriots, or maybe the Packers.

China And The Capitalist Model

November 1, 2014

See my commentary about the growing interest by the Chinese to follow our capitalist model

Stop Being Scared

October 24, 2014

As we approach Halloween, the basic premise of the day is to scare people with spooky costumes, with the verbal challenge – trick or treat, and with the creepy condiditons of a dark and cold night. But this year many Americans are already scared – scared of Ebola, scared of ISIS, scared of illegal immigrants, scared of serial killers, scared of traveling or even going to school or the mall; in short Americans are just plain scared.

There is even a new television program called Stalker that is designed to scare the living daylights out of viewers who sit in their easy chair and watch some homicidal maniac stalk an innocent and unsuspecting person, usually an attractive woman.

Well despite the Halloween season, I am sick and tired of being told that I should be scared and having the media and politicians trying to get me to be scared. I hope you agree that it is time for Americans not to be scared of living in our world and to stand up to those who are working to keep us scared.

This is not the time to wallow in fear and constantly worry about how some person or group or disease out there is set to bring death and destruction to America and Americans. The whole culture of being scared is making us immobile and constantly looking over our shoulder.

Yes, there are bad people out there, yes, there are diseases around us, and yes, there are terrorists in the world. But being scared is really only for Halloween, not for everyday life. I would really like to hear a politician call for bravery and personal strength instead of trying to scare the hell out of our citizens.

Being scared is not the American way, never has been and never should be. Scared is for fictional television shows or all those Freddy Kruger movies. Scared is for trick and treat night, but scared is not the reality of our world or our values or our way of life. So let’s get back to being courageous and enjoy life and not fall prey to the media and political charlatans who want to gain ratings or win votes by making you fear your shadow.



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