Author: Tom Robotham

ForKids Helps Homeless Families in Coastal Virginia

Shortly after Thaler McCormick went to work at ForKids—an organization that provides a variety of support services for homeless individuals and families—she sat down to interview one of her first clients, a woman named Carla.* (*Some of the names in…

Left Side: Prison Reform

Deeply embedded in our national consciousness is the notion that the United States of America is devoted to “liberty and justice for all.” Alas, we have failed to live up to that ideal. Consider this: Here in the “land of…

Left Side: Should College be Free?

Two years ago, when Bernie Sanders made “free college” a centerpiece of his campaign platform, critics on the right—as well as many self-proclaimed moderates—scoffed at his proposal. But the fact is, none of the criticisms hold up to scrutiny. The…

Left Side: Qualifications for Presidency

The Constitution of the United States spells out only two requirements for anyone wishing to become president: the person must be a “natural-born citizen” and must be at least 35 years old. It is to the credit of the document’s…

Left Side: Developing Alternative Energy Sources

If there is a single slogan that resonates more than any other with Trump’s loyal base it is, “America first.” The sentiment is understandable, given that the United States is no longer the industrial powerhouse that it was throughout much…

Searching for God in the 7 Cities: Transcending Religion

The maze at A.R.E. is designed for walking meditation and contemplation. The foregoing generations beheld God and nature face to face, we through their eyes. Why should not we also enjoy an original relation to the universe? ~ Ralph Waldo…

Left Side: The GOP Tax Plan

President Trump told a lot of whoppers during his first year in office, but the biggest lie of all was his claim, in mid-December, that the GOP tax plan was “one of the greatest Christmas gifts to the middle class.”…

Searching for God in the 7 Cities: Buddhism

Photos by Tom Robotham Just as the great ocean has one taste, the taste of salt, so also this teaching and discipline has one taste, the taste of liberation. ~ The Buddha   I’ve been drawn to Buddhism for most…

Virginia Arts Festival Honors Leonard Bernstein

Leonard Bernstein and JoAnn Falletta, mid '80s This year’s Virginia Arts Festival will once again bring into town a wide variety of world-class artists. But one of the biggest highlights will be our own Virginia Symphony’s tribute to Leonard Bernstein,…

Highlights of the Virginia Arts Festival’s Upcoming Season

This spring the Virginia Arts Festival will enter its 22nd season with an astonishing array of performances you won’t want to miss. “We’re really excited about this year’s lineup,” says Rob Cross, the Festival’s executive director. “Every year when we…

Left Side: NFL Players Kneeling During the National Anthem

In 2016, when NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick kneeled in protest during a pre-game playing of the National Anthem, he set off a firestorm of controversy that illuminated the deepest divisions in our society. On one side are super-patriots (or those…

Searching for God in the 7 Cities: Judaism

Rabbi Michael Panitz And if a stranger sojourns with thee in your land, ye shall not vex him. But the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shall love him as…

Left Side: Political Debates In Media

One evening about 20 years ago, I sat down to dinner with Charlton Heston to celebrate the publication of a book we’d been working on together. Our conversation covered a wide range of topics, from his early childhood to his…

Searching for God in the 7 Cities: Christianity, Part 2

Wave Church And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. ~ 1 Corinthians 13:13   When you hear the word “church,” what comes to mind? For me it sparks memories of specific sights…

Left Side: Federal Government Funding Public Broadcasting

Last spring, in an appeal to his arch-conservative base, Donald Trump pledged to eliminate funding for PBS and NPR, as well as the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Trump certainly wasn’t the first…

Left Side: First Amendment Rights

Abraham Lincoln—arguably the wisest president we’ve ever had—once said that America will never be destroyed from the outside. “If we falter and lose our freedoms,” he added, “it will be because we destroyed ourselves.” Today, in the wake of Donald…

Searching for God in the 7 Cities: Muslims

All mankind is from Adam and Eve: an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab … over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over a black nor a black … over a white, except by…

Left Side: Women's Rights and Sexism

It’s no secret that this country is sharply divided. But the polarization is perhaps starkest on the issue of women’s rights. Consider this: Last year, as Hillary Clinton was campaigning to become the first woman president in our nation’s history,…

Left Side: Pride Assemblies in Public Schools

When Cox High School announced late last year that it planned to hold a student-organized gay-pride assembly, some people—predictably—voiced opposition. Incoming school board member Victoria Manning was chief among them. In an email to the board chair, she argued that…

The Heroin Problem Hitting Home in Suburbia

Ron* remembers vividly the first time he felt “the warmth of the opium embrace,” as he puts it. “I was 23 at the time,” the now-33-year-old Norfolk resident recalls. “I’d been doing a lot of cocaine and pills but had…