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Thu Apr 30, 2015 at 09:37 AM PDT

In Every Human Heart

by mbenefiel

In Boston, where I live, April marks not only the beginning of spring but also the all-important Boston Marathon. Two years ago the iconic event was shattered by an explosion which killed three people and injured many more. Subsequently a police officer was also killed.

Earlier this month a jury found Dzhokhar Tsarnaev guilty of the crime on all thirty counts. Now, as spring bursts forth in Boston and as last week witnessed the 119th Boston Marathon, the same jury deliberates Tsarnaev’s fate.   Will Tsarnaev spend the rest of his life in prison or will he die for his crime?

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Ted Kennedy first campaigning to the Senate in 1962
Yesterday President Obama, Vice President Biden, a bevy of Senators and Kennedys, and other assorted political leaders dedicated the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate in Boston.  The speakers honored Ted Kennedy as someone who, in his 47 years in the Senate, knew his mission and knew how to stay focused on it.  As a result, he became an extremely effective leader.  
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Like Jim Wallis, I believe that budgets are moral documents. They reflect our deepest values.  Like budget decisions, climate decisions are moral decisions.  Decisions that impact the environment reveal our moral commitments.

How does Barack Obama measure up on the moral leadership for the environment scorecard?

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Fri Jan 30, 2015 at 10:58 AM PST

Broken New Year’s Resolutions?

by mbenefiel

Have you broken your New Year's resolutions yet? If so, you're not alone. A study at the University of Scranton reported that 36% of participants had broken their New Year's resolutions by the end of January. By the end of six months, over half had broken their resolutions.  

What if we thought of our broken New Year's resolutions not as evidence of weak willpower, but as a sign of other important commitments that need just as much attention as our resolutions need?  A book that can help do just that is Robert Kegan and Lisa Laskow Lahey’s Immunity to Change: How to Overcome it and Unlock the Potential in Yourself and Your Organization.

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Thu Dec 18, 2014 at 07:31 AM PST

Soulful Leadership in Conflict

by mbenefiel

Photo credit: Tejvan Pettinger, flickr
Yesterday the Vatican released the final report on its unprecedented investigation of Roman Catholic Sisters in the United States.  Six years ago, when the Vatican announced the apostolic visitation  (its formal name), many of the Sisters whom the investigation affected responded with hurt and anger.  Yesterday, thanks largely to competent, spiritually grounded leadership on the part of American Sisters, the spirit was conciliatory.
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Tue Nov 11, 2014 at 08:30 AM PST

Soulful Leadership for Peace

by mbenefiel

In the wake of the latest escalation of the U.S. military operations in the Middle East, it’s time to remember the origin of Veterans Day.  In 1926, the U.S. Congress officially recognized the commemoration of Armistice Day on November 11 with the exhortation,  “the recurring anniversary of this date should be commemorated with thanksgiving and prayer and exercises designed to perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding between nations.” Armistice Day commemorated the day when World War I hostilities ceased, and had been celebrated informally since 1919 as a day to work for peace.
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Thu Oct 30, 2014 at 08:10 AM PDT

The Power of Local Business

by mbenefiel

Business Alliance for Local Living Economies promotes local business. Founded by Judy Wicks, long-time entrepreneur and owner of the White Dog Café in Philadelphia, BALLE seeks to build the new economy, “one that will gradually displace our destructive and failing economy with a system that supports health, prosperity, and happiness for all people and regenerates the vital ecosystems upon which our economy depends.”  Moreover, BALLE envisions accomplishing this task in one generation.  

How will BALLE accomplish this daunting task? By connecting leaders, spreading solutions, and attracting investment.

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Today, the U.S. and Canada celebrate Labor Day, honoring work and workers. In a time of corporate mergers, layoffs, and budget cuts, what does it mean to honor workers? In the U.S., the unemployment rate remains at 6.2% with many of the unemployed and their families suffering as a result. Furthermore, the workers who remain employed after layoffs are expected to do twice as much work, and they and their families suffer from overwork, stress, and lack of time together.
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Fri Jul 25, 2014 at 09:57 AM PDT

Soulful Leadership in Finance

by mbenefiel

The past decade has witnessed scandals, corruption, and greed in the financial sector.  The U.S. and Ireland, in particular, have produced many examples of how financial misbehavior damages people and the economy.  Bankers have suffered an unprecedented loss of respect in the eyes of the public, and “finance,” for some, has become synonymous with “corruption.”  Not surprisingly, The New York Times concluded in 2012 that "the misconduct of the financial industry no longer surprises most Americans. Only about one in five has much trust in banks, according to Gallup polls, about half the level in 2007."

In the midst of this greed and corruption, is anyone exercising soulful leadership in finance?  Is anyone showing an alternative path?

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Mon Jun 30, 2014 at 08:13 PM PDT

Freedom

by mbenefiel

Photo credit: Srizki, flickr
Freedom is on my mind. As the U.S. prepares to celebrate Independence Day in a few days, I’ve been contemplating my freedoms.

I enjoy the freedom to vote for the candidate of my choice. I enjoy freedom of religion. I enjoyed the freedom of a good education, which gave me the freedom to do work I love and the freedom to marry the person I chose. I enjoy freedom from want, with a place to live and food to eat. I enjoy the freedom to live where I want to live and to travel to the places I want to travel.

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Fri May 16, 2014 at 06:51 AM PDT

Soulful Leadership in Ukraine

by mbenefiel

 Photo credit: Ray_from_LA, flickr
While the U.S. government bills the tension between Russia and Ukraine as “big bully annexing small sovereign state,” this view belies the complexity of the situation.  Admittedly, Putin has broken international law.  At the same time, the leaders of the U.S.-backed coup in Ukraine took down a democratically elected government and are increasingly demonstrating fascist leanings.  While the U.S. is citing international law to criticize Putin, our country has repeatedly broken international law by intervening in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and Yemen without the backing of the U.N. security council.  With U.S. oil interests in the mix, the seeds of war have been sown.  Furthermore, the mainstream media waters and fertilizes the seeds of war.
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Yesterday, over 800,000 spectators crowded the St. Peter’s Square area while 500,000 more watched on giant screens around Rome as Pope Francis canonized Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II.  The first time a Pope has sainted two Popes at the same time, this historic event has been called a savvy political move by the media, since Pope Francis recognized both the more liberal John XXIII and the more conservative John Paul II, thus satisfying two opposing wings of the Roman Catholic church.  While Pope Francis did indeed display political savvy at this canonization, this event holds far more significance than that (even leaving aside the spiritual question of discerning sainthood).  
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