Commentary Series

Weekdays 7:55 a.m. and 5:55 p.m. Sundays at 10.55 a.m.

More than 50 commentators provide perspective and opinion about current events, topics of interest, and often showcase the work of writers and storytellers.  The VPR Commentary Series is produced by Betty Smith-Mastaler.

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When the First Continental Congress adjourned on this date in 1774, America was in chaos. What might happen next was anyone’s guess.

Responding to the Boston Tea Party, the British Parliament imposed the “Intolerable Acts”, harsh laws intended to punish Massachusetts and force the rest of the colonies into submission. They had the opposite effect, provoking widespread defiance, including calls for an inter-colonial congress.

Our house has become a battleground. The two of us against the invading flies, worms, wooly bear caterpillars, and spiders that each fall colonize it for their own comfortable survival through the coming winter.
 

The right to vote is the core of democracy.
 

The word is out. Voter turnout will be low in this mid-term election. Vermont will not be an exception. But we can defy this dire expectation by proving the pundits wrong.

I’m a fierce believer that the right to vote is at the core of democracy. Without it, we would become a dictatorship. The streets of Hong Kong are filled with couragous demonstrators for one reason - the right to elect their leaders.

Dowling: Guided Tours

Oct 22, 2014

As a tour guide at Shelburne Museum I’ve learned a few things about art and about people’s connection to it. For example, I’ve discovered that most people, no matter where they’re from, don’t know much about American art. If pressed, they can come up with names like Andrew Wyeth or Andy Warhol, but many are unaware of the myriad artists and styles that collectively tell the story of our country, its people, and our values.

I’ve also learned that a serious first encounter with American painting can be a marvelous thing.

Now that the school year is really under way, morning for most students means pulling on backpacks and climbing onto school buses.

Where I work as a school principal, students are eager to learn, teachers are ready to teach, and hallways are shiny with fresh coats of wax. It's a familiar routine that hasn't varied much for several past decades. But in other ways, things have changed dramatically to match our changing world.

We can’t keep doing things the way we are in education. The costs are unsustainable and results are questionable, especially as connectivity, content distribution, and career options evolve. It’s not just about the money.

I bought an old copy of Joy of Cooking at a library book sale. The red and blue lettering on the white dust jacket made it look patriotic, as American as apple pie, perhaps, or maybe that staple of autumn in New England – the game supper.

First copyrighted in 1931, this edition was from 1964. And with apologies to those who oppose hunting or eating meat, I have to say that I found the chapter on game to be fascinating - and at times oddly amusing.

Events this fall in Ferguson, Missouri, have vividly brought home to American living rooms the realization that police departments in many jurisdictions have become highly militarized, and instead of looking like the friendly neighborhood policeman, now resemble units of the Army’s 101st Airborne parachuted into the center of Afghanistan to find and kill the Taliban.

One of the hardest decisions of my life was telling the oncology nurse at the Brattleboro Memorial Hospital that I was not submitting my 87 year old mother to the painful daily treatment the blood specialist was recommending. It was clear the treatment was not going to cure her or make her life more comfortable and she had trusted me with her end of life care when she could not decide for herself. Though I knew she did not want extraordinary measures or aggressive treatments to prolong of her life, it was still a gut wrenching decision.

I love October for its crisp air, colorful hillsides blanketed in autumn haze and its almost melancholy sense of endings. But because October is National Adopt-A-Shelter-Dog Month, it’s also a time for new beginnings – a time when shelters across the country unite to educate the public about the joys of pet rescue and encourage us to save a life while enriching our own.

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