Don’t go gaga over babies

Pop culture fires up the supremacy of marriage over singlehood. Corporations like American Express are introducing “made especially for busy, multitasking moms” credit cards to pump gas into the family minivans. President Obama keeps funding his predecessor’s “Healthy Marriage Initiative,” encouraging unmarried parents to tie the knot.

There is no escaping the story of virtues of having babies (and a heterosexual marriage that should precede them). Last week, Reihan Salam of Slate.com went as far as to insist that childless folks pay more tax to help parents raise kids because children are the saving grace in a nation of misanthropes and economic downfall.
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Preserving life at all costs is wrong, especially in Guantánamo

Leaving politics aside, debates surrounding the force-feedings in Guantánamo Bay highlight our reluctance to accept individuals’ right to die when living becomes intolerable.

In Man’s Search for Meaning, psychiatrist and holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl writes that even when everything was taken away from him in Auschwitz, he still had the freedom to choose how to respond to his circumstances.

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Why character matters as much as craft

I once had lunch with a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who was more or less my dad’s age. I had great respect for his deep commitment to impartial reporting and found his immense filing cabinet of memory impressive. So it was very unfortunate when he said suddenly that he wanted to . . . me, using a verb that begins with “f.”  He then added that what his wife didn’t know couldn’t hurt her.

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Don’t Pressure Expectant Moms

When I first moved to London from New York, I was blown away that I didn’t need medical insurance to see a doctor.  All I had to do was look up National Health Service clinics in my area and go to the nearest one.  Prescriptions cost me mere £7, and birth control didn’t even require that £7-prescription fee (in New York, I had to pay $50 every month out of my pocket because they were not covered by my insurance).  Whatever NHS’s troubles, it seemed to me that they were doing a fine job.

Two years and a pregnant friend later, I changed my mind.

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Up to One Fifth of the World’s Children Have Mental Problems

An estimated 10 to 20 percent of children worldwide have one or more mental or behavioral problems. Many disorders commonly found among adults, such as depression, can begin during childhood, the World Health Organization reports. Categories specific to childhood and adolescence include disorders of psychological development, including dyslexia and autism, as well as behavioral and emotional disorders, such as attention deficit/hyper activity and conduct disorders.

Continue to read here (UN Chronicle, No. 2, 2002)

Korean homosexuals struggle with barriers

After years of wavering, Kim Byeong-suk, a 34-year-old part-time graphic designer, decided to come out of the closet and let his close friends know that he is gay.

Continue to read here (The Korea Herald, October 14, 2002.)

“Call me Ishmael.”

When I turned twenty-two — I was about to graduate from college in Boston — I started experiencing intense anxiety. I was always a worrier with deep envy for people who have unyielding optimism for life. But what descended on me then was much worse than my usual worries.

Afternoons became petrifying and I had to stay inside, away from the windows and the setting sun. To this day, I don’t know why it was in the afternoon that I felt such anguish.

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