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The Sun Interview

Armed And Dangerous

The Desperation Of Rural America — An Interview With Joel Dyer

Five times as many farmers now die of suicide as die from equipment accidents — which, historically, have been the single biggest cause of unnatural death on the farm. And that’s not even counting suicides made to look like accidents: if you’re about to lose your farm and have life insurance, you can crawl into your combine, and your family might be able to keep the farm. Personally, I suspect there are more fraudulent accidents than straightforward gunshots to the head. So it could be that ten or fifteen times as many farmers die from suicide as die from accidents.

The Sun Interview

Undermining Democracy

Noam Chomsky On How The U.S. Breeds Inequality At Home And Instability Abroad

Researchers find in their polls that the attitudes of the poorest 70 percent of Americans have essentially no effect on policy. Those people are disenfranchised. It doesn’t matter what they think. Political leaders just don’t pay any attention to them. As you move up the income scale, you see a little more influence. By the time you get to the top, attitudes and public policy are very similar, because the few at the top are the ones who design the policy. They essentially get what they want. You can’t call that democracy. It’s some kind of plutocracy.

The Sun Interview

Homeland Insecurity

Stan Goff On Why U.S. Foreign Policy Endangers Us All

During the Clinton administration, when Hugh Shelton was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, he began what Donald Rumsfeld calls the “revolution of military affairs,” which is the complete restructuring of the U.S. military. The shorthand for it is “full spectrum dominance.” This refers to dominance in three dimensions: technology, the full spectrum of conflict (from street riots to thermonuclear war), and geography. The belief that we can achieve such dominance is quite likely the most grandiose delusion in human history. It simply is not possible. It’s amazing and worrisome to me that people who hold the reins of power would actually believe in something like this.

The Sun Interview

Throwing Away The Key

Michelle Alexander On How Prisons Have Become The New Jim Crow

Yes, during the original Jim Crow era Whites Only signs hung over drinking fountains, and black people were forced to sit at the back of the bus. There was no denying the existence of the caste system. But today people in prison are largely invisible to the rest of us. We have more than 2 million inmates warehoused, but if you’re not one of them, or a family member of one of them, you scarcely notice. Most prisons are located far from urban centers and major freeways. You literally don’t see them, and when inmates return home, they’re typically returned to the segregated ghetto neighborhoods from which they came, leaving the middle class unaware of how vast this discriminatory system has become in a very short time.

The Sun Interview

Dangerous Love

Reverend Lynice Pinkard On The Revolutionary Act Of Living The Gospels

For me, churches exist only to serve people and planet. The church is not an empire, a way for leaders to build monuments to themselves, for congregants to take pride in the curb appeal that a lovely edifice affords. The church is not a building. The church is an extension of Christ — literally Christ’s body — and an alternative to the militaristic, consumerist, alienated way of life that has become the norm.

The Sun Interview

By Fire And Water

An Interview With Michael Meade

All this violence is a fire screaming for the water of human attention. I don’t think we’re going to be able to keep going unless we deal with it. To me the two big events of the last two years are the fires in L.A. and the flooding of the Mississippi River. I think they are strangely related.

Essays, Memoirs, and True Stories

The Grace Of Great Things

Reclaiming The Sacred In Knowing, Teaching, And Learning

Community goes far beyond our face-to-face relationship with each other as human beings. In education especially, community connects us with what Rilke called “the grace of great things.” We are, in reality, in community with the genes and ecosystems of biology, the great questions of philosophy and theology, the archetypes of literature, the artifacts of anthropology, the materials of engineering, the logic of systems and management, the shapes and colors of art, the patterns of history, the elusive idea of justice under the law — we are in community with all these great things. Great teaching is about knowing and feeling that community, and then drawing your students into it.

Fiction

Inventing Wyoming

Everything we take from the earth, every drop of rain and every blade of grass, every bit of flower and fruit, the sinew and muscle of the animals we kill, we borrow these things for a brief time and we will pay them back. The records are kept from the beginning of time.

The Sun Interview

Not On Any Map

Jack Turner On Our Lost Intimacy With The Natural World

One of my essays starts: “My cabin is located next to a stream that runs through a meadow, but it is not on any map.” It’s not on a map because the places I’ve lived and loved are labeled with my own names: Where Rio chases her stick. Rio’s favorite pool. Where Rio ran into the bear. It’s a private mapping, a personal geography projected onto the land. It requires a long time living in one place and studying its plants and animals. If you follow them and their lives, you gain a deeper sense of home.