We usually don’t think about water unless we’re thirsty, or unless we’re enduring a flood or a drought. Water has been very much on the minds of people in Georgia and other southeastern states, which have experienced the worst drought in a hundred years. Without significant rain, the water supply for Atlanta (Lake Lanier) could run out in the next three to nine months.
People who have knowledge of and access to contraceptives tend to have fewer unwanted pregnancies and therefore fewer abortions. It’s no accident that the world’s lowest abortion rates are found in Belgium and the Netherlands, where contraception is widely available, or that the highest rates are in Cuba and Vietnam, where access is limited.
The most impressive thing about “A Common Word Between Us and You,” an open letter to the world’s Christian leaders signed by 138 Muslim scholars, is that it exists. (See news report.) The second most impressive thing is the economy of its argument.
When President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran visited Columbia University, he was introduced as a “a petty and cruel dictator” by his host, the school’s president, Lee Bollinger. When he addressed the General Assembly at the United Nations, the U.S. delegation walked out.
Mubarak Awad, a Greek Orthodox Catholic influenced by Quakers and Mennonites, could have become the Palestinian Gandhi. After his father was killed by Jewish freedom fighters in 1948, his mother taught her children to turn the other cheek. In 1983 Awad opened the Palestinian Center for the Study of Nonviolence in Jerusalem, with the aim of fomenting mass nonviolent resistance to Israeli occupation. His peaceful efforts got him kicked out of the country in 1988. He now teaches nonviolence at American University. He remains optimistic about the prospects of nonviolent resistance in the Middle East, but fears the current conflict between Israel and Gaza is driving more people into the extremist camp (Newsweek, August 11).