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Author: The Conversation

Hard-Wired to Worry: How our brains sabotage the happy moments

By James Carmody, Professor of Medicine and Population Health Sciences, University of Massachusetts Medical School A new year brings both hopes and anxieties. We want things to be better for ourselves and the people we love, but worry that they won’t be, and imagine some of the things that might stand in the way. More broadly, we might worry about who’s going to win the election, or even if our world will survive. As it turns out, humans are wired to worry. Our brains are continually imagining futures that will meet our needs and things that could stand in...

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Motivation is not Indefinite: Why most New Year’s resolutions quickly end in failure

By William Clark, Adjunct Lecturer of Health and Wellness Studies, Binghamton University, State University of New York In January, 40% of Americans will make New Years resolutions, and nearly half of them will aim to lose weight or get in shape. But 80% of New Year’s resolutions fail by February, and gyms will experience a decrease in traffic after the first and second months of the year as those who made New Year’s resolutions to get in shape lose steam. As a lecturer at Binghamton and former Olympic weightlifter, world champion powerlifter and strength coach, much of my life...

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A Union Man: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. saw organized labor as a cure for pervasive discrimination

By Peter Cole, Professor of History, Western Illinois University If Martin Luther King Jr. still lived, he would probably tell people to join unions. King understood racial equality was inextricably linked to economics. He asked, “What good does it do to be able to eat at a lunch counter if you can’t buy a hamburger?” Those disadvantages have persisted. Today, for instance, the wealth of the average white family is more than 20 times that of a black one. King’s solution was unionism. Convergence of needs In 1961, King spoke before the AFL-CIO, the nation’s largest and most powerful...

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How the gospel and a heritage of black ministry influenced MLK’s language for social justice

By Kenyatta R. Gilbert, Professor of Homiletics, Howard University The name Martin Luther King Jr. is iconic in the United States. President Barack Obama mentioned King in both his Democratic National Convention nomination acceptance and victory speeches in 2008, when he said, “[King] brought Americans from every corner of this land to stand together on a Mall in Washington, before Lincoln’s Memorial…to speak of his dream.” Indeed, much of King’s legacy lives on in such arresting oral performances. They made him a global figure. King’s preaching used the power of language to interpret the gospel in the context of...

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The 15th Amendment’s 150th: A conflated perception of black history since Reconstruction

By Tiffany Mitchell Patterson, Assistant Professor of Secondary Social Studies, West Virginia University I’ll never forget a student’s response when I asked during a middle school social studies class what they knew about black history: “Martin Luther King freed the slaves.” Martin Luther King Jr. was born in 1929, more than six decades after the time of enslavement. To me, this comment underscored how closely Americans associate black history with slavery. While shocked, I knew this mistaken belief reflected the lack of time, depth and breadth schools devote to black history. Most students get limited information and context about...

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When America went Dry: Forgotten political and social lessons on the 100th anniversary of Prohibition

By Jay L. Zagorsky, Senior Lecturer, Questrom School of Business, Boston University On January 17, 1920, one hundred years ago, America officially went dry. Prohibition, embodied in the U.S Constitution’s 18th amendment, banned the sale, manufacture and transportation of alcohol. Yet it remained legal to drink, and alcohol was widely available throughout Prohibition, which ended in 1933. I am reminded of how easy it was to drink during Prohibition every time I go to the hotel in New Hampshire that hosted the Bretton Woods Conference, which created the modern international monetary system after World War II. The hotel, now...

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