In the 1960s, the Right told us that if we didn’t stop the Communists in Vietnam, all the countries of the region would fall and we’d have to fight them on our doorsteps. The so-called Domino Theory. We didn’t stop them. The nations of the region didn’t fall like dominoes. And Communists didn’t arrive at our door to take over. Now they’re telling us the same thing about ISIS and the Muslims.

From a policy perspective, the trouble between Israel, Hamas, and the Palestinian Authority is a complicated situation with a long history. And while the policy debate can be frustrating, the personal aspect is quite simple for me. Somewhere in the West Bank and in Gaza men and women are wondering how they will feed and clothe their families. Settling age-old conflicts might be important to them, but their first concern is how to put food on the table.

And somewhere in all that, a Palestinian farmer is tending his field hoping for enough water to produce a crop, enough political stability to allow him to bring that crop to market, and enough demand to give him a fair price. His muscles ache, his back hurts, and his fingers are calloused from manual labor.

I can’t do much about the political situation or the rain, but I can do something, however small and insignificant it might seem, to promote a market for that farmer’s produce. So, instead of merely thinking about that Palestinian farmer, I got off the couch, rode up the street to Phoenicia Market, and searched the store for food products from Gaza or the West Bank. I came home with a big bag of West Bank thyme which I purchased as an act of support and as a prayer. It’s not much of a gesture, but I’ve been to the financial edge and I’ve seen that it doesn’t take much to make a difference. And it beats the hell out of merely sitting on the sofa bitching about what other people “ought” to do.

Professional sports - and the intersection of professional sports with American culture - have become more like The Hunger Games and less like mere athletic competition. More like the gladiator games, and less like athletic contests. As if the leagues are operating a human lottery - trading lives back and forth, dangling the illusion of prosperity and fame before many with little opportunity for either, all the while wasting their bodies, minds, and spirits in an orgy of physical pain, exacting the last measure of strength from its players. And in the end offering only tin trophies and a hollow thanks. While we watch, cheer, and are corrupted ourselves.