Archive for April, 2009

Should ’sexting’ be decriminalized?

Good news! Our courts are going after child pornographers with a vengeance, using technology like cell phones and social networking sites to locate and trap these heinous criminals and throw the book at them. The only glitch in this admirable fight for justice? The “scum” appear to be our own kids.

Youthful hormones and high-tech communication have dovetailed as of late, and “sexting” is the result — racy pics teens send each other via cell phone. Think this dangerous and vile behavior is part of an edgy subculture? A recent survey by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned pregnancy claims that 20 percent of our teens are involved in “sexting” activities. “It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity,” Einstein once said, making me wonder if he saw this one coming.

I’m shocked by how widespread this activity has become and grateful to live in a community filled with adults who are “on it” in a big way, …

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Does a family need a collective spiritual life?

It is Easter Sunday as I write this, and during today’s packed and joyful service, I found myself wishing that it wasn’t so easy to let regular life get in the way of the New Life that many are so conscious of – and conscientious about – during holidays.

Most people believe in God. Addiction recovery programs such as AA have found that they don’t work without relying on Someone greater than yourself. Numerous studies have found that every member of a family is more healthy, has more friendships, and a more positive outlook on life with more regular spiritual practice. And in a family, a collective spiritual life is very influential. For example, a study by Dr. Sung Joon Jang found that children whose parents were more religious in practice were less likely to use drugs later on.

If belief was just a collective delusion, studies would have found no difference from those whose parents said “just say no” a lot. But it makes perfect sense if there really is …

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Will U.S. standing in the world rise once we exit Iraq?

John Mayer’s tepid anti-war ballad “Waiting on the World to Change” always bugged me, a slacker’s lament that makes excuses for its own lack of passion. At least now the once-popular song is dated, and we’re no longer waiting to see if the world’s attitude will change towards us. It already has.

President Obama has clearly contributed to this changing world his first 100 days. He’s authorized a staged withdrawal from Iraq, incorporating advice from top military commanders. This policy, earning grudging approval from Sen. John McCain and some concern from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, is bound to sit right with moderates everywhere. He’s communicated unequivocally and directly to the Arab world, starting with an inaugural address that proclaimed a need to “responsibly leave Iraq to its people.”

The Decider has given way to the Diplomat, and the world likes what it sees. Yet gaining global approval hardly requires turning tail; our buildup in Afghanistan …

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Should we do more to encourage women to keep Down syndrome babies?

When I was growing up, seeing people with Down syndrome was common, and as a Special Olympics volunteer I was touched by how much they loved life. But today, at least 90 percent of women expecting a Down syndrome baby get an abortion, according to journals such as the American Journal of Medical Genetics. As in-utero screening has advanced, terminating Down syndrome pregnancies has become almost expected.

But should it be? Or are we as families and a society losing something important if we become a nation of more and more perfect people, preventing those with even the most livable disabilities from being born? As we get further away from recognizing that everyone is precious no matter their handicaps, we become less compassionate and accommodating toward those who are imperfect. And that makes it harder and harder parents to visualize how they could possibly navigate life with a Down syndrome child.

Forty years ago, that was easy to visualize. And those parents …

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