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The Sun Magazine

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Too Much Of A Good Thing

Daniel E. Lieberman On How Civilization Makes Us Sick

There’s growing attention to the importance of nutrition and physical activity, which is a cause for hope, but my concern is that these trends are very much class driven. Wealthy people tend to be able to afford to be physically active and to eat healthy foods and to reduce stress and to get enough sleep and to stop smoking. There have always been disparities in health between classes, but I worry they are going to widen. Just as we have income inequality, we’re heading toward a world in which we see an increased burden of noninfectious chronic diseases in the lower classes.

The Hand We’re Dealt

Dalton Conley Asks Why Some People Get Ahead And Others Fall Behind

Only two measurable socioeconomic aspects of the parents really matter in predicting who succeeds: the parents’ education, which is the most important, and the family’s wealth, which is the second most important. By “wealth” I don’t mean how much the parents make a year. I mean net worth, including savings, property, and other financial resources.

The Egret Lifting From The River

David Hinton On The Wisdom Of Ancient Chinese Poets

There’s a Wang Wei poem in which an egret standing at the edge of a stream flutters up and then settles back down. That’s it. In the West we think there’s something missing, that there should be more to the poem. But if you remember that heart and mind are the same, then you realize that this perception, this experience of empty mind perceiving with mirror-like clarity, is also an emotional experience. It’s both the observation of the scene and the feeling evoked by the scene at the same time, the two together filling us completely.

Living Medicine

Stephen Harrod Buhner On Plant Intelligence, Natural Healing, And The Trouble With Pharmaceuticals

When you use a living medicine and get well, you feel that the world is alive and aware and wants to help you. People often talk about saving the Earth, but how many times have you experienced the Earth saving you?

Dangerous Love

Reverend Lynice Pinkard On The Revolutionary Act Of Living The Gospels

For me, churches exist only to serve people and planet. The church is not an empire, a way for leaders to build monuments to themselves, for congregants to take pride in the curb appeal that a lovely edifice affords. The church is not a building. The church is an extension of Christ — literally Christ’s body — and an alternative to the militaristic, consumerist, alienated way of life that has become the norm.

Call Of The Wild

Bernie Krause On The Disappearing Music Of The Natural World

Nearly 50 percent of the habitats where I’ve made recordings over the past forty-plus years have been so severely damaged that they’re now either biophonically silent or altered to the point of being unrecognizable.

Not On Any Map

Jack Turner On Our Lost Intimacy With The Natural World

One of my essays starts: “My cabin is located next to a stream that runs through a meadow, but it is not on any map.” It’s not on a map because the places I’ve lived and loved are labeled with my own names: Where Rio chases her stick. Rio’s favorite pool. Where Rio ran into the bear. It’s a private mapping, a personal geography projected onto the land. It requires a long time living in one place and studying its plants and animals. If you follow them and their lives, you gain a deeper sense of home.

The One You’re With

Barbara Fredrickson On Why We Should Rethink Love

I think it’s possible to learn to seek out love at any point in life. In my own life I made a major turnaround as an adult when I discovered how to relate more with people instead of remaining isolated. People can wake up at any time to what they need as human beings regardless of where they started. Positive emotions are our birthright, and we all have access to them. It could be that the families we grew up in didn’t help us to feel them, but the people who raised you can’t take away your capacity to resonate with others. They may have reduced your skills, but the capacity is still there.

Undermining Democracy

Noam Chomsky On How The U.S. Breeds Inequality At Home And Instability Abroad

Researchers find in their polls that the attitudes of the poorest 70 percent of Americans have essentially no effect on policy. Those people are disenfranchised. It doesn’t matter what they think. Political leaders just don’t pay any attention to them. As you move up the income scale, you see a little more influence. By the time you get to the top, attitudes and public policy are very similar, because the few at the top are the ones who design the policy. They essentially get what they want. You can’t call that democracy. It’s some kind of plutocracy.

The Long Goodbye

Katy Butler On How Modern Medicine Decreases Our Chance Of A Good Death

It’s an interesting philosophical conundrum: Which self do we honor? The fully capable, legally responsible person I am right now, who says I don’t want any artificial barrier preventing the natural death that might await me? Or the less-aware self that I might become at a later date, who might say, “No, no. Keep me alive”?