Sometimes society faces issues that seem to defy rational solution. They excite extraordinary tensions, and participants in debate find that simple language is misunderstood and motives are vilified. In the 20th century this level of irrational hostility has exploded around such issues as the right of labor to organize, women's suffrage, desegregation and abortion.
This past November the tobacco industry agreed to give $208 billion to the states over the next 25 years. The tobacco companies want us to think that they have redeemed themselves from their evil deeds. But the truth is that they've engineered a settlement that may be one of the best con jobs in American history.
We were walking up to our third-floor apartment when an elderly neighbor opened her door. "I heard you come in last night," she said. We were distressed, and said we were sorry to have disturbed her. She shook her head at our apologies. "You don't disturb me. I just don't sleep well until I hear you come in at night, and know you're safe."
A few months ago, I knowingly harmed an indigent woman named Jacqueline. She was standing at the end of the exit ramp, holding up the predictable sign: "Homeless. Please Help." I parked the car and doubled back to talk to her. She and her "old man" had come from a city a few hours east, she said.
Kenneth Cragg has been a major figure in Christian-Muslim conversations. He has spent some 45 years in the Middle East as professor of philosophy, as a chaplain, and as assistant bishop in the Anglican Archdiocese of Jerusalem. He has also taught at the University of Sussex in England.