Monday, November 13, 2017
Last week I went to a meeting of the Philosophy and Free Thought Club in the UMass Campus Center. Here is a view of the campus out the window of the room where the meeting took place.
The guest speaker was Terry Franklin, best known as one of the Valley's foremost marijuana legalization activists.
However, it was not weed that was the topic of Terry's talk, but instead a room-wide discussion that attempted to answer the questions: Why is there war? How do we prevent it? Don't assume that Franklin is tackling fresh topics because there's nothing left for Franklin to do on the cannabis front since marijuana was legalized by the voters last year. The roll-out of legal pot has been a tawdry, anti-democratic and crony capitalist nightmare, requiring committed activists like Franklin to keep constantly vigilant.
It just happens that Franklin is a serious thinker about a number of issues, including foreign policy. The exchange with Franklin and the philosophically inclined, free thinking students was lively at times, but in the end, the question of why we have wars and how to stop them is one that many have pondered throughout history without finding a successful solution. By the end of the discussion, the challenges of war and peace remained unresolved. Yet, these are questions that are always worth raising.
Every so often, maybe two or three times a year, I like to cut myself off from computers. That means no going online for any reason and leaving my cell phone at home without checking it for 24 hours. Of course, the next day I'm swamped with unanswered e-mails and my voicemail is full, but it's generally worth it. I like to remind myself that the first half of my life I never so much as touched a computer. It may amaze some younger folks, but I was fine with it and had no sense that anything was missing in my life. It helps me to keep my head right to go back to that earlier, non cyber mindspace sometimes.
So what did I do on my phoneless and computer free day? I headed down to my old stomping grounds in Springfield, where I was invited to win and win until I won in ol' Pine Point.
I passed by the Hiram L. Dorman Elementary School, where my Dad and his sister attended.
I also paused at the abandoned gallery of Doyle the Twig Painter, where some sun-faded lithographs still stand in the window.
A nice little walk around the neighborhood, and a worthwhile use of computerless time.