HARVARD SQUARE COMMENTARY

March 26, 2007
Potpourri

Ernest Cassara


Violence in Everyday Life

I imagine what I’m going to say will upset some folks.  But, as I think of our society’s concern with violence, we tolerate much of it, as long as it is considered sport.  Think about it.  Two men - and, even, nowadays, some women - in a ring battering each other.  Either with gloves on, in the case of boxing.  Or, jumping up and down on an opponent in the case of wrestling.  Yes, society, were it to really think about it, would be appalled at its sanction of so-called sport.

And, then, there is football.  So violent that players must wear all kinds of padding.  European football, which we would call “soccer,” is just, if not more, exciting, without the violence.


More on Idioms

In my talk on Carl Schurz at the Ethical Society of Boston a few weeks ago, of Schurz’s trip to America, I said:

On shipboard, he engaged fellow passengers in conversation, practicing his English pronunciation and acquiring a store of colloquial expressions. It was impressed on me how much of our conversation consists of idioms, which would puzzle someone learning English, when Beverly and I were at dinner with a group of friends at a restaurant in Berlin. When our host asked along the table whether we would all be satisfied with a particular soup, I responded, "Yes. I don't want to upset the apple cart." Professor Volker Lühr, sitting across from me, repeated the expression with wonder. Then, when our host asked whether we would be satisfied with a particular white wine, although I always prefer red, I responded, "I'll go along with the gang," again to the wonder of Volker Lühr across from me!

I thought of Professor Lühr the other day, when I heard Defense Secretary Gates refer to someone having to “step up to the plate”!  We, of course, having been raised on baseball understand the expression, but what would of my friend Lühr make of it?

By the way, my talk on Schurz, since it was given on a terrible icy day, was heard by few.  So, our intrepid leader Stanley Wayne has scheduled me to repeat it on Sunday, 15 April, 10:30 A.M., at one of the buildings of the Longy School of Music outside of Harvard Square, the one at the corner of Garden and Chauncy Streets.  If, however, you cannot make it, you can read the speech at this link:

http://www.bostonethical.org/02-18-07.html


He Should Read the Constitution

I was astounded the other day to hear Congressman Eric Cantor of Virginia, on C-SPAN, referring to “our Commander-in-Chief.”  He ain’t.  The president is the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, not of you and me.  But, it was clear that Mr. Cantor does not know what the Constitution says in this regard.  Another reason why, instead of a Bible, folks should be sworn into office with a hand on the Constitution.  Perhaps, then,  they might  be tempted to read it!


The West Bank’s New Problem

I read the other day that some rich U.S. Jews are buying land on the West Bank, so that Israelis can move onto it.  Don’t the poor folks in Israel/Palestine have enough problems without buttinskies in the U.S. making things worse?

Meanwhile, the U.S. administration, along with the Europeans, will not recognize the new Palestinian government, because Hamas, a member of it, does not recognize Israel and will not renounce violence.

Question?  Should we insist that Israel recognize the Palestinian government and renounce violence?  If not, why not?


“God Bless America”

Read this on a tag at the back of a car in front of me the other day, and asked myself why He/She/It should bless us.  Over my many years on God’s green earth, I have lived in the U.K., Germany, and Switzerland, as well as at home in the U.S., and, I do not recall ever having heard such expressions there.  Just goes to show that some of us are latter day Puritans, still kidding ourselves that we are a “City on a Hill.”


Speaking of Stickers

When our son visited from Alaska a couple of weeks ago, we accompanied him on a visit to friends in Maine.  One of the ladies mentioned that some neighbors seemed to object to some of the stickers she had affixed to the back of her car.  I gave her the advice that she should put an American flag sticker at the beginning and at the end of each sticker.  We should not surrender our beloved flag to right-wing crazies!


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