My Perspective

May 12, 2021

Humankind has, from its beginnings, experienced a struggle between the irrational and rational approaches to understanding reality. The former has triumphed so often that I wonder how the species ever survived. A brief examination of history reveals, for example, that most significant attempts at ...

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This Sunday, on Mother’s Day, I will take some time to honor my departed mother, Rose, whose intelligence, humor, compassion, warmth, and love were the greatest influences of my life. She and my late father, James, were married for 57 years. Their love and devotion to one another was ended only by ...

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Perhaps it’s the result of restlessness, occasioned by my first week of “temporary retirement,” but whatever the reason, recently I found myself questioning the wisdom of some rather basic long-held beliefs. Chief among these notions was one I had been taught in grammar school—that the atom ...

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I recently retired from a 45-year career at the Legal Aid Society.  On my last day, my friends, colleagues, and family threw a virtual retirement party in my honor. The tributes I received were profoundly moving and I did all I could to hold back tears. It was one of the happiest and saddest times ...

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My career as a public defender started almost 45 years ago. In my starting class, I was as one of 11 new recruits assigned to the criminal defense practice of the Legal Aid Society in the South Bronx. None of my original colleagues still work there: three passed away, one went into private ...

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It was a very cold day, even for late January, when, in 1977, I began my career as a public defender in the South Bronx, fulfilling my law school objective. On my very first day, when I arrived, my boss, whom I had just met, informed me that I would be working night court that evening because a ...

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The best part of my week is when I sit down at my computer to compose this weekly column. Today is different. It is the anniversary of my mom’s death. At exactly 3:30 p.m. on March 20, 1998, while holding my hand, the finest human being I have ever known, my mother Rose, passed away. We are ...

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Sometimes, as we scurry to complete our daily tasks, we lose sight of how we are all connected. What binds us to relatives and close friends is obvious, both in our acknowledgment of it and in how it impacts our lives. But, given the serendipitous nature of the universe, there exist other ...

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If you are like me, you often find yourself tempted to debate a particularly hot issue with a friend with whom you vigorously disagree. If you were to follow my mom’s advice, you would resist the urge because she believed that most topics of debate are too emotionally anchored. She had a point.

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In reaction to recent news stories, all too often, I find myself asking, “Well, that’s never happened before. What on earth is going on?” Over the last few years, this occasional quip has escalated into a constant refrain. Now, more than at any other time in my life, I labor under the alarming ...

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In last week’s column, we began to discuss Lester Zygmanik’s ethical dilemma. For those who may have missed the article, here is a summary of the facts: In the summer of 1973, George Zygmanik, an active, athletic, 27-year-old married man with a 3-year old son, suffered a terrible motorcycle ...

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It was with equal parts excitement and trepidation that I and 35 other first-year Fordham law students took our seats in a cramped classroom one chilly September morning in 1971. It was Day One of our required Criminal Law class. We were all a little early and we knew that within moments, our ...

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The book, “The Dead Poet’s Society,” begins with Professor John Keating standing on his desk and asking his astounded students, “Why do I stand up here?” Not hearing a response, he continues, “I stand on my desk to remind myself that we must constantly look at things in a different way.” He ...

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In my last year of law school, as editor of the Fordham newspaper, The Advocate, I dedicated an entire issue to challenging the school’s failure to admit an equitable number of women. In my law school class of hundreds, the number of female students was in the single digits. Today, I am happy to ...

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I recently suffered a defeat in my professional life that was as painful as it was final. When you are in your 70s, it’s unlikely that time will allow for a closed door to reopen. As it is with all the twists and turns that we encounter in our lives, the emotional response to disappointments is ...

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When I exuberantly devoured John F. Kennedy’s “Profiles in Courage” at age 12, I was immediately and irrevocably hooked on the importance of selfless public service. At that impressionable age, I became convinced that such a vocation was indeed a noble venture. More importantly, I believed that any ...

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It’s been a year since my college friend, Pat, and I reconnected with daily phone conversations, as she bravely battled against the colon cancer that months later would take her life. During our talks, she told me she had decided to combine Western treatments with more holistic remedies. In so ...

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As we begin the New Year, I look forward to sharing new intellectual journeys with you. For today’s column, I was inspired by two television game shows: “Jeopardy” and “What’s My Line?” While you may all be familiar with the former you may not know the latter, which is a show that aired from 1950 ...

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Last week, I asked you to engage in storytelling in honor of Christmas Eve. This week, as we celebrate the New Year, I wondered what other task I could propose to enhance your holiday season. Given the nature of the past year, this undertaking has not been so simple. You don’t need me to tell ...

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This year, I am thrilled to address you on Christmas Eve. To mark this special occasion, I am going to ask something of you. Please take the time, this holiday season (perhaps even on this special night) to tell your family and friends a story about your life. Equally important, I ask that you take ...

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I want to wish all of you the most joyous of holidays, and a healthy and happy new year. I cannot imagine a more stressful or sadder year than 2020. Yet, here we are, you and me, alive and hopeful that 2021 will be better. It is my intention to continue to share my thoughts on important topics in ...

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In the last five years, it has become increasingly clear that we live in a world where people passionately cling to fundamentally different views of what the truth is. When I ask myself how that could be, my mind wanders back to a chilly but bright Wednesday morning in May 1971. On that day, I ...

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In our youth, time plots at a snail’s pace as we eagerly seek experiences, but it accelerates like a speed demon in our adult years. If you’re anything like me, you try futilely to slow its unrelenting tempo by desperately holding on to uniquely personal collages of memories, some still detailed, ...

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By the time you read this, hopefully you will be sitting down to enjoy a Thanksgiving dinner and all the issues swirling around our presidential election will have been peacefully resolved. Even in a COVID restrained environment, it is still that time of year where we pause and give thanks for all ...

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Given life’s relentless demands, almost all of us rush through our days trying to accomplish everything on our plates. Seldom do we take a wider view of the whole enterprise. There are, however, times custom requires that we slow down and listen to speeches, which serve to remind us of what is ...

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This year, our country and, indeed, the world, stand at a crossroads; one not altogether unique in the history of humankind. Through the convergence of several disparate forces, we find ourselves at this crucial point, where we are called upon to embrace anew or reject our enduring commitment to ...

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This is the last of my series of interviews with candidates seeking our support this fall. As for the pending election, my advice to you is please vote. The vibrancy of our democracy depends on our willingness to participate. Without further ado, the following is my recent chat with Assemblyman ...

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If there is one thing I have learned in my 72 years on this planet, it is that life is a constant struggle between hope and despair. Those of you who read this column regularly may recall earlier this year when I wrote about my college classmate, Patricia, and her valiant struggle against colon ...

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New York’s 94th Assembly District’s election this year features a newcomer to politics, Stephanie Keegan vs. the incumbent, Assemblyman Kevin Byrne. Continuing my efforts to bring you information about some of the more prominent races on our ballot this November, I sought out and was able to catch ...

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As I promised, the following is my recent interview with former Westchester County executive, Rob Astorino, who is challenging state Sen. Peter Harckham this November. Every election season I try to present for your consideration interviews with all the main candidates so you can make your own ...

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