Bill Schubart

Commentator

Bill Schubart lives and writes in Hinesburg. His latest book is Lila & Theron.

Photograph by Todd R. Lockwood / Burlington City Arts

Efforts to defund the National Endowment of the Arts are a quadrennial budget issue here at home. And in many countries, artists, like journalists, are censored, jailed, or even assassinated.

Bill Schubart

My favorite way to recover after a hot afternoon’s hard work has always been to chug down a quart of ice cold water from a Mason jar and then jump into a clear mountain brook or a neighbor’s pond.

Neighbors in an upscale condo development were speculating about what the guy in the end-unit must do for a living to afford a sailboat, motorcycle, and camper. Curious, one strolled over and asked.

“Plumber,” came the answer.

I’ve finally reached that equilibrium we all seek between mind and body. And at my age, I’m proud to be both a Roads Scholar and a Gravel-road Slalom competitor, a sport to which most newcomers can only aspire – since the main qualification is to live year-round at the end of four miles of one of Vermont’s numerous dirt roads.

I grew up reading Vermont Life in the fifties and continued reading it until shortly after the turn of the century.

An epiphany is a spontaneous event that inexplicably alters one's life, amanifestation of some force in the universe greater than oneself.

Without notice or comment, The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (UCIS) recently deleted from its mission statement a century-old introductory phrase… “America’s promise as a nation of immigrants…”

I’ve recently learned I’m a “privileged, cisgendered, white male.”

While most of the civilized world has abandoned execution for moral as well as practical reasons, President Trump is now proposing an expanded application of the death penalty - traditionally applied only in first degree murder cases - for all “major” drug dealers.

“Build it and they will come” is the oft-misquoted meme from the classic movie Field of Dreams. And in the case of the proposal by CoreCivic, a private prison firm, to build and lease back to the State a 925-bed prison in Franklin County, this meme embodies the worst fears of the corrections reform movement.

Schubart: Depression

Feb 12, 2018

Seventy per cent of all Americans are taking some form of prescription medication, and ten per cent of them are on anti-depressants. Among women between 40 and 50, the number is twenty-five percent. In fact, antidepressant use has quadrupled in just the last thirty years.

Recent federal policies are putting our international standing at risk.

Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan has suggested that our economic recovery could be stoked by American women simply having more children.

Although our collective individual commitments to improving our communities and environment are important in offsetting the negatives of over-consumption and pollution, scientists warn us that by themselves, personal efforts like recycling, heating with renewables, and reducing consumption are not enough to move the dial on planetary survival.

In physics, centripetal forces propel objects toward the center and centrifugal forces drive them away. And today, our societies and communities are engaged in an epic battle between these two opposing forces.

Any male not now asking himself about his own behavior towards woman and children is extending the risk to both into future generations. Sexual abuse rolls forward from generation to generation until someone – both victim and perpetrator – decides to get honest with themselves and others. Victims are now coming forth in droves.

At seventy-two, I often hear myself say, “Well, when I was young…” followed by some judgment about the behavior of today’s kids. I seem to remember my parent’s expectations of me as a kid were quite different from what parents seem to expect today. Looking back, my parents’ expectations and boundaries hardly felt ambiguous.

It’s no secret that many colleges and prep schools are in financial trouble. Accrediting organizations predict a significant number of institutional failures in the next decade. We even feel the pain here in Vermont but, understandably, no one wants to discuss it, as any faint whiff of distress further discourages applications.

When I was eight, I took the NRA safety and target training at a camp in Maine. Two years later, my parents gave me a Winchester .22 long rifle. We kids would peddle our bikes up to the dump after it closed on Saturday to “pop” rats. During deer season the high school boys brought their 30.06s to school and left them in the principal’s office so they could hunt right after school before sundown.

As human beings we’re living in a time when our evolutionary capacity to understand, regulate, and use technological innovation in a way beneficial to mankind and our planetary home is simply overwhelmed by the relentless speed of discovery and invention.

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