COMMENTARY: Facing the new year without fear

RNS) Part of looking forward is to see the face of fear, for it is fear that seems to underline the hatred, greed, dysfunction and extremism we saw in 2012. For all of our advancements in science, technology, learning and democracy, humanity remains a frightened lot. By Tom Ehrich.

COMMENTARY: Suffer the children

(RNS) As news about shootings at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., began to spread last week, I could hear the gun lobby’s spin-masters kicking into high gear. Don’t “politicize” a tragedy in order to deprive people of their constitutional rights, went the line. Our hands weren’t on those triggers. Unless politicians summon previously unseen courage to face down the makers of assault rifles and high-powered pistols, 100-round clips and so-called “cop killer” ammo, the weapons industry could receive another free pass. As Newtown joins Columbine and Aurora and other communities in the unique agony of massacres by guns, the weapons industry will continue to profit handsomely from arming Americans intent on murdering their families, their neighbors, strangers at malls and theaters, college students and little children — not to mention rival gang members, store owners, police officers, and politicians.

COMMENTARY: Thanksgiving every day

(RNS) In the afterglow, I give thanks for Thanksgiving Day. It might be our most spiritual holiday. We did nothing remarkable, and yet we sampled the cornucopia that makes life matter: love, patience, giving to others. By Tom Ehrich.

COMMENTARY: I have seen the problem, and it is us

NEW YORK (RNS) Establishment Christianity has taken inordinate satisfaction in our occasional mission work among the needy, but not challenged each other to seek transformation of life. When we should have been proclaiming the gospel that Jesus actually preached, we were building an institution that depended on not offending the wealthy. By Tom Ehrich. 

COMMENTARY: Seeking clarity

NEW YORK (RNS) The “October trifecta'' that touched my life — my father's death, surgery and the unprecedented destruction of Hurricane Sandy — did what traumatic events often do: they left me emotionally fatigued and ready for some fresh clarity, fresh perspective and fresh prioritizing. By Tom Ehrich.

COMMENTARY: Letting go and getting out of the way

(RNS) I understand that older folks have a hard time letting go. We were once the repository of fresh ideas, exciting dreams, and change-the-world aspirations. But the fact is, at some point the youth deserve to be heard. After all, they are even more legion than we are — and they are dreaming the new dreams. By Tom Ehrich.

COMMENTARY: Learning to take it slow

(RNS) Even now, a week after surgery, I find my mind drifting off. I haven't always taken enough time to heal. I moved on too soon, when my head, in effect, was still woozy. So this time I am taking time. No rushing back to work, no making important decisions, no feeling impatient to have my wits fully about me. By Tom Ehrich.  

COMMENTARY: No man (or nation) is an island

NEW YORK (RNS) In our volatile, ambiguous and interconnected world, raw nationalism has become a danger to civilization. Learning to respect other peoples and to imagine their needs as legitimate is a critical component of modern wisdom. By Tom Ehrich.

COMMENTARY: Getting back on the path to decency

(RNS) Nothing will get better in our troubled and divided nation until we take to heart three lessons about what it means to be a decent person. First, give back to God. Second, help the unfortunate. Third, tell the truth. By Tom Ehrich.

COMMENTARY: All politics (should be) local

NEW YORK (RNS) The better a restaurant owner knows the customers, the more focused the menu can be. It's the same with politics; when it's local, candidates tend to know their people or at least know their interests, lingo, worries and hopes. This is the level at which democracy tends to work best. By Tom Ehrich.