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Guest blog: The tragedy in Tucson

Samuel Berkowitz is part of the Socrates Cafe, a free group in University City where members engage in thoughtful conversation regarding philosophy, ethics and a variety of other topics.

The terrible act of an unbalanced person has been in the news for days. Everyone has been showing remorse and sorrow. This is how it should be. However, the efforts to explain the act by people in the media, government, action committees and individuals have gone astray. Our President led a group of leaders and many people who are Americans to speak of civility and working together. Will this speech change our country? Will the message of unity be enough to put us on a better path and get us to a better place? I wish it so, but I am afraid more is needed.

The American Dream of “Prosperity” was created at the end of WWII. At that time, our country had the manufacturing base that could be converted to peacetime and we, Americans, became the production leader of the world. The dream of prosperity seemed achievable by our people. This dream of prosperity remains our American Dream today, but it seems less achievable for many. Is it time to create a new dream so we can strive together to reach it? I say yes. In fact, if we don’t have a dream we will never by a unified population moving together for the common good.

Politics is the process we use to govern. The politics of our great country, under the umbrella of Democracy, has been a great model. But the world has changed. We have the media creating news, not reporting it. We have instant communication but we have lost depth of understanding since we are all using sound bites. No longer are Americans sitting together to ask each other questions in search of truth. Debate is a process that creates a winner and loser. “Argumentum ad Homonym” is a debating technique where you attack the opponent rather than the issues. This is what is one the sources of trouble in our political system. Our leaders must take the time to search for truth rather than attacking each other for advantages. In our country’s history, there have always been classes in our society. All cannot prosper at the same time particularly when the wealth of our nation is depleted by the manipulation of value rather than the creation of value.

The Socrates Cafes in University City have taught me the importance of asking the right questions to gain understanding.

Below are a few of the many questions that need to be answered to understand this tragedy. These are examples of the questions we try to answer. We welcome all to our meetings. What is civility? What is the worth of a human life? What is a life worth living? Are we our brother’s keeper? What is liberty vs. freedom? Are there too many people in the world versus the resources of the world? What should be done? Does the media report or create news?

If you are interested in being part of good discussions, just contact me for information.Samuel M. BerkowitzSamb911@att.net704-598-0510

Want to talk? The Socrates Cafe meets 7 p.m. on the first and third Tuesday of the month at the University City YMCA, 8100 Old Mallard Creek Road, and at 11:30 a.m. on the first and third Thursday of the month at the Ben Craig Center, 8701 Mallard Creek Road.