Is it really so bad to grow old?

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Photo by Fabrizio Azzarri on Unsplash

What is the value of a consoling arm around your shoulders as you let out a good cry? Or the attentive gaze of a friendly coworker listening to you vent about your overbearing boss? Or the well-timed joke meant to momentarily distract you from the mountain of bills sitting on the kitchen table? Or the familiar smile of the one true love who makes your heart do somersaults every time you lay your eyes upon them?

Discussions about the value of human life often revolve around contributions and achievements that can be measured — the number of records set over the course of an athlete’s career; the number of jobs created by the pioneering business owner; the number of Oscars awarded to the world-famous actor; the number of best-selling books published by the eccentric author. We like numbers because they’re simple and concrete. But numbers aren’t good storytellers. They don’t capture the importance of our daily interactions with the people who mean the most to us, and therefore can’t be used to convey the importance of those relationships. …


How I Changed My Mind

I used to think ‘an eye for an eye’ was fair and just, but I’ve seen enough to know it’s not

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San Quentin State Prison. Photo: Jitze Couperus via Flickr/CC BY 2.0

Every writer writes for different reasons. Some people write to inform. Others to vent. For many, writing is a hobby. For a select few, it’s a profession. For me, writing serves several different purposes, one of which is to act as a tool that I can use to refine my ideas about the world and the institutions, philosophies, and cultures that govern it.

Next to my laptop is a stack of essays I wrote many years ago. Every now and then, I pull one out of the pile, pick it apart, and attempt to piece together a persuasive counterargument for the sole purpose of besting myself in a debate. When it comes to changing my mind about something, I’ve discovered that there is no method more suited to the task than arguing with myself. …


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Image by jplenio at Pixabay

I was on the road to liberation, strolling along quietly, content to walk until I either reached my destination or collapsed from exhaustion.

But then something unexpected happened.

The further I progressed, the wider the road became. It continued to widen until I suddenly found myself standing in the middle of a spiritual cul-de-sac, and I’ve been trapped here ever since.

My descent into this circular dungeon was relatively unremarkable. You’ve no doubt heard the story before; young man grows up in a religious household, leaves the nest, experiences a series of life-altering events, realizes his faith in God is starting to waver, and eventually embarks on a long and arduous incursion into the unexplored regions of his mind with a view to discovering the fundamental truths about existence. …


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Photo by Quentin Rey on Unsplash

WARNING: This piece contains LOTS OF BIG SPOILERS from the new Joker movie. If you haven’t seen it yet, stop right here and do not go any further— unless of course you’re not planning to ever see the movie, in which case, please continue on!

I’ve been battling a severe form of obsessive-compulsive disorder for more than twenty years of my life. In college, it cost me not one, not two, but three different jobs. I’ve lost countless close friends who just couldn’t make heads or tails of my compulsions. I once went two full years without a single hug or handshake from another human being. …


The true value of a thing is found in the stories it has to share

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Image Credit: darksouls1 via Pixabay

Regina sat stone-still in her grandfather’s throne listening to the frenzied roars of enraged citizens gathered outside the front gate. That’s it! Reveal yourselves! Show the world who you really are, she thought to herself.

A faint rasp tickled her ear — the sound of an intruder’s rusted iron lever chewing away at the frame of a bolted library window. She leapt to her feet and dashed into the hallway. They must have climbed over the rear wall, but how on earth did they survive the descent?


If Biden becomes president, making modest overtures to moderates would serve his governing interests

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(Drew Angerer/Getty)

If Joe Biden wins the presidential election, there are three ways he can choose to handle the enormous partisan divide that has torn this country apart over the last several years.

The first option is to ignore it, which he should not and — judging by what we know of him — will not do. A unified American electorate isn’t a necessary precondition for what he wants to achieve, nor is it a realistic goal. But if he plans to follow through on his campaign promises, he’ll almost certainly need some assistance from outside his party to do it. …


Mind Games

To avoid another devastating nationwide lockdown, we all have to do our part

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Photo: Jasmin Merdan/Getty Images

Author’s Note: This post touches on a range of sensitive topics, including mental health, suicide, and domestic violence.

I know better than most what it’s like to isolate yourself from the outside world, to live inside your own head for days, weeks, and even months at a time. I spent the better part of a decade living the life that millions of Americans are now anxiously trying to escape after just a few short months. I suffered, and still do, from a severe form of obsessive-compulsive disorder. Folks like me often refer to it as “contamination OCD,” a type of OCD that compels you to do everything you can to avoid exposing not just yourself, but also the people you love, to germs, viruses, and bacteria. …


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Photo by i yunmai on Unsplash

Fat-shaming is bullying, plain and simple. And by “fat-shaming,” I mean the act of making disparaging remarks to or about an overweight person(s) in order to make them feel ashamed of their physical appearance.

A doctor warning a patient that their weight is too high doesn’t fall into the category of fat-shaming, as far as I’m concerned. Doctors have a duty to look out for the health of their patients. …


The “Perception Gap” study found more than just misunderstandings about language

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Photo by Jonathan Poncelet on Unsplash

In a recent column for Arc Digital, Senior Editor Nicholas Grossman addressed “the Perception Gap” study published by More in Common, which claims that much of the current political divide in the United States derives from the left and right uncharitably misunderstanding each other. Using a survey, the study found that large chunks of both sides of the American political spectrum misinterpret their opponents’ political beliefs.

Grossman objects to this conclusion, arguing that the language used in the study was exceedingly vague, and for that reason, the results don’t prove what the researchers and many media reports say they prove. The first example he cites pertains to the statement that “properly controlled immigration can be good for America.” …


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Lady Justice (Image from WilliamCho via Pixabay)

In a recent piece for the New Yorker, columnist Josie Duffy Rice argues that the outrage over the decision to drop all charges against actor and singer Jussie Smollett highlights the American people’s hypocrisy on the issue of criminal justice reform. “There are currently two million incarcerated people in this country,” she explains. “Another four and a half million are under some other form of correctional control. Yet, with the Smollett case, it is leniency that gets the attention. There’s a common belief that criminal-justice reform is one of the few bipartisan issues left in politics. …

About

D.A. Kirk

Outer space enthusiast. Japanese history junkie. I write about politics, culture, and mental illness. Disagreement is a precursor to progress.

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