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Joe Chuman: Holding Fast to Our Values in a Time of Chaos and Peril

By May 19, 2024No Comments

American democracy is in greater peril than at any time since the Civil War. Though the United States has well entrenched institutions to safeguard our democracy, and a Constitution that has served us well for more than 200 years, democracy is not self-sustaining. It is only as strong as the will, values and virtues of the people who comprise our nation. If the public is indifferent or does not care, democracy can readily fade.

The presidential election this November may augur the end of the American experiment. But our political reality extends more deeply than the fact that we effectively have only one political party, with the other committed to the destruction of our democratic system. What reaches further is the flourishing of irrationality, lies, conspiracy theories, and rejection of the legitimate authority of experts. There have always been strands of irrationality that have flowed through American values. But it has always been on the fringes; now adopted by tens of millions of Americans, it has gone mainstream. Without a commitment to truthfulness there can be no trust. And without trust there can be no democracy, let alone a coherent society. We live in a kaleidoscopic reality, which impinges on our sanity.

Here is where Ethical Culture comes in. Despite our small size, our values are the values that serve as the foundation of a sane and democratic society. Our values are critical values and we need to hold fast to them.

About Joe Chuman

Leader Dr. Joe Chuman started on his road to Ethical Leadership as a leader-in-Training here at the New York Society in 1969 and continued his training at the Bergen Society, after which he became Leader of the Essex County Society before returning to the Bergen Society, where he served as leader for 46 years, retiring in January 2021. Joe has been a leader at the New York Society Since 2008. During his long career, Joe has worked as an academic, a social justice activist, a speaker, and a writer. He has been teaching human rights in the Graduate School at Columbia University for more than 20 years, teaches human rights at Hunter College, and has taught at the U. N. University for Peace in Costa Rica and at other colleges.

As an activist, Joe has advocated for civil liberties, human rights, and other progressive causes and has frequently testified before the New Jersey legislature on such issues as religious freedom, gun violence prevention, death penalty opposition, and immigrant rights. He founded the Northern New Jersey Coalition for Asylum Seekers 20 years ago and still serves as its president. Joe has written numerous book chapters, encyclopedia entrees, scores of Op-eds, and is the author of “Speaking of Ethics,” a compilation of essays on Ethical Culture. Currently, he writes articles on political and socio-political issues on Substack and other social media outlets.

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New York Civil Liberties Union

About Sunday Platform

Sunday Platform is our most important and long-standing community event. These gatherings educate, stimulate personal growth, inspire reflection and action, and strengthen our community. Sunday meetings begin with music, followed by greetings and a talk given by a Society Leader, member, or guest.  Platforms cover a variety of topics that reflect current events, pressing social issues, and Humanist philosophy. Each Sunday meeting is followed by a luncheon and social hour.

To watch previous Sunday Platforms, visit our Videos page and YouTube channel.

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