By David Greusel
In November of 2009, Mick Cornett, mayor of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, gave a speech to the local Chamber of Commerce extolling the benefits of pedestrian-oriented cities, and praising sidewalk and bicycle connectivity as healthier alternatives to automobile travel. Mayor Cornett did not develop these ideas out of whole cloth. In fact, the mayor’s speech echoed one given nearly twenty years earlier by Florida-based urban planner Andres Duany. How did Duany’s ideas take twenty years to penetrate the political leadership of a large Midwestern city?
The Separatists (later known as “Pilgrims”) who founded Plymouth Colony in 1620 were not known for gaiety. Roughly half of the Mayflower’s 102 passengers who survived the first few months in wintry Massachusetts took it as an article of faith that gratitude gets people through grief. Dr. Paul Brand took gratitude a step further, showing how science supports this scriptural view. It’s worth remembering this Thursday.
When the Pill hit the market in the early 60s, advocates hailed it as solving “the problem that has no name”—the cramped calculus for women forced to choose between family and career. Opponents however believed it created a firestorm, calling it a Faustian bargain. Reproductive technologies are one of America’s most incendiary issues today. Is there a way to make this controversy less combustible? Yes, by making the formula less flammable.
President Obama has a “narrative” problem, writes New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman. “He has not tied all his programs into a single narrative.” If this is confusing, let’s bump up the bewilderment—the solution is “teleological.” Teleology is Greek for purpose or ends—familiar terrain for faith communities. That’s why Harvard’s Michael Sandel says finding a single narrative in politics means taking spiritual questions seriously.
When a handful of Phoenix hotels aimed to become more eco-friendly, they tried four approaches to get guests to reuse towels. Of the four, “do it for the environment” proved least effective. It turns out that moral appeals like “do the right thing” rarely work. It’s not the way human nature is wired. In reality, there’s a better way.