Can We Be Thankful This Year for What Really Matters?

banner_holidayHoliday time or Holy-Day time? Each holiday season, I wonder what time people are really celebrating. Christmas becomes X-Mass, holy-days become holidays, days of remembrance become good days to host a backyard barbecue and Thanksgiving becomes the springboard to “the shopping season.” The big kickoff being “Black Friday.” Where is our soul? Where is the spirit in our natures? Is time off meant to be simply another day to watch the “big game.” Are holy-days meant to be spent shopping? Is Black Friday now the most important day of the year? Is Santa Claus a Good Christian because he gives toys to tots? Was that Jesus Christ’s message, to spend Christmas roasting chestnuts round an open fire singing Jingle Bell Rock?

1000x750-6holidays_grinch_tcm88-35406Please note, it is not my intention to sound like the Grinch or to “cast stones” at others. We all need time to relax and we all need time for fun and games. However, when do we say enough? What about the meaning of the time that we are granted? Do we simply see our time off as a holiday or do we embrace this gift of time to remember our dead, our veterans, our special leaders and those that helped pave the way for the lives we can live today. These “holidays” we are given each year, whether in remembrance of a religious or civic event should not pass by without our taking the time to remember what their true meaning is.

Thanksgiving in my opinion is meant as a time to remember the blessings that we have been given. Regardless of how much or how little we have, there is generally something we can be grateful for in our lives.

GW-IngratitudeI have so much but I am continually looking at people that are more successful, make more money, have more friends and are in better condition. Yet once I pause for just a few seconds to reflect on my blessings, I realize that I have the greatest wife in the world and I am healthy and moderately well off. I have six happy and wonderful grandchildren. I have more friends than I have time to spend with. In short, I have nothing to complain about. I have nothing to be selfish or greedy or jealous about. I have been blessed with a wonderful life but I hardly ever stop to say “thank you God for what you have given me.” I am usually too worried about what I have not been given.

Prayer-for-Thanksgiving-to-God-2

This Thanksgiving, will you take the time to say a prayer of thanks, will you ask all present to thank God or whomever or whatever you believe in for the gifts and the life you are living? This year, I will ask all present at my Thanksgiving table to take a minute to express what they are thankful for in their lives; then we will dive in on the turkey, stuffing, and dressing.

The true meaning of Thanksgiving lies in being grateful for what you have.

Time for Questions:

Do you know a prayer of thanks? What is your favorite prayer? Will you make time for a prayer of gratitude this Thanksgiving?

Life is just beginning.

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.  — Melody Beattie

 

Why Do We Need Disabled People? In Honor of my best friend Brian Rogers.

disabled people

I just found out this morning (11-16-15) that one of my best friends Brian Rogers died yesterday at 3:30 PM. Brian was 68 years old.  I want to re-post this blog in his honor.  Brian reviewed and gave me input on this blog and was very proud of it. The title might sound insulting so I encourage you to read it. You will find out what a remarkable man Brian was and how much he loved life. 

Gimps, retards, morons, cripples, idiots, loony toons, wackos, everywhere you look we are surrounded by them these days.  Whatever happened to the good old days when you could walk down Main Street without having to look at some retard?  And to make matters worse, they are destroying our health care system.  All that tax money we waste on these losers who have never worked a day in their lives.  I think Hitler had the right idea:  Euthanasia.   Get rid of them and save the world for those of us who are productive citizens.  Do you know where Hitler got his ideas from?  Right here in America.  We started the whole idea of euthanasia to create a pure White All American Race of hard working honest loyal and patriotic citizens.  Citizens who could eat apple pie with two hands!  Citizens who could play real baseball and not some weak watered downed handicapped version for gimps!  Citizens who could put in an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay!  (Social Movement for School Song by Pilot Speed)

The “Nazi euthanasia campaign” of mass murder gathered momentum on 14 January 1940 when the “handicapped” were killed with gas vans and killing centers, eventually leading to the deaths of 70,000 adult Germans.  Professor Robert Jay Lifton, author of The Nazi Doctors and a leading authority on the T4 program, contrasts this program with what he considers to be genuine euthanasia.  He explains that the Nazi version of “euthanasia” was based on the work of Adolf Jost, who published The Right to Death in 1895.  Lifton writes: “Jost argued that control over the death of the individual must ultimately belong to the social organism, the state.  This concept is in direct opposition to the Anglo-American concept of euthanasia, which emphasizes the individual’s ‘right to die’ or ‘right to death’ or ‘right to his or her own death,’ as the ultimate human claim.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Euthanasia#Early_euthanasia_movement_in_the_United_States

What happened was that Hitler had the courage of his convictions and back here in the USA, we balked at the idea of killing people for the good of the country.  Think of the money and expenses and problems that Hitler’s ideas could have saved!  Think of the productivity improvements that a Master Race of Americans could have created!  Well, at least we don’t have to pay these gimps minimum wage.  Section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act authorizes employers, after receiving a certificate from the Wage and Hour Division, to pay special minimum wages – wages less than the Federal minimum wage – to workers who have disabilities for the work being performed.

But some claim that workers with developmental disabilities, including persons with significant support needs, are dependable and reliable workers. In several major studies (Kregel, Parent, & West, 1994; Kregel & Unger, 1993; Shafer et al., 1987; Shafer et al., 1988) over 900 supervisors and employers were asked to rate the work performance of persons with disabilities in comparison to workers in similar jobs who did not have any identified disabilities. Workers with disabilities were rated higher than their non-disabled counterparts on a number of factors, including attendance, arriving to work and returning from breaks on time, accepting authority, and being accepted by the public.  Why It Pays to Hire Workers with Developmental Disabilities —  by John Kregel

Hell, you can’t trust all those stupid studies done by bleeding heart liberals.  They would say anything to protect a few gimps.  What if they can be productivedisabled logo for web workers?  What if they do work as hard as or even harder than “normal” people?  They still take up much of our hard earned tax dollars for their health problems.  They are a big drain on our already overtaxed healthcare system.   Look at it this way, if we did not have to pay for medical care for the disabled, we would have a lot more money to spend on those of us who need medical care for legitimate reasons like: Smoking, alcoholism, obesity and gunshot wounds.  Heck, I can’t even get up close to the emergency room in the hospital when my buddy accidently shoots me, because I don’t have a handicapped parking sticker.  Too many stores have too many parking places for the disabled.  If we had less disabled, costs of handicapped parking signs would drop precipitously.

A 2014 study by the private American foundation The Commonwealth Fund found that although the U.S. health care system is the most expensive in the world, it ranks last on most dimensions of performance when compared with  Australia,  Canada,  France, Germanythe Netherlands,  New Zealand,  Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom.  The study found that the United States failed to achieve better outcomes than other countries, and is last or near last in terms of access, efficiency and equity.  Study data came from an international survey of patients and primary care physicians, as well as information on health care outcomes from The Commonwealth Fund, the World Health Organization, and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

Disabled ad_Faye adWow, I guess this means they must have less retards and cripples in these other countries or are they implying that mismanagement and inefficiency are the true causes of high health care costs in the USA?  Well, you know those Europeans; most of them are commies and socialists.

The real story is that most of these so-called disabled people are actually treated very well by the more able-bodied in this country.  They shouldn’t complaint about the privileges and treatments they get from the rest of us.  Just to test this theory out, I decided to talk to a disabled friend of mine and see what he thinks.  I asked him how he feels about the treatment that disabled people get and particularly the treatment he gets as a disabled person.   Here is what my friend Brian Rogers said:

“I will add that our desire is simply inclusion in the mainstream of society.  They evaluate us as differently-abled with great skills and a history of a great work commitment to our nation, but only in times of war. We are the only minority that does not discriminate; you can enter our group in a heartbeat.  We are strong in number. The American Medical Association states there are 43 million Americans with disabilities.  Our failure to be fully integrated into society is our own. We did not capitalize on the American’s with Disabilities Act of July 26, 1990.  We did not have leaders like our brothers and sisters in the civil rights movement of the 60’s.  We should have learned and developed our leadership from within the Disability Rights Movement.  If the disabled community had more leadership and control of our services and programs, everyone would have been better off.  We must take the “dis” out of disability.”

IMG_0733“People don’t understand discrimination until they have tasted the bitterness.  My barriers are mostly attitudinal, not concrete and steel. Barrier free environments improve everyone’s life, not just people with physical disabilities. People ask me what I would like to do.  I would just like to go into a grocery store and buy a loaf of bread, without drawing unwanted attention.  John, did you notice when we went to lunch the other day?  The server talked only to you. She avoided looking at me or saying a word to me.  That happens all the time.”

I was somewhat shocked when Brian mentioned to me the lunch situation.  I had not even noticed it.  It is easy to notice your own problems but much more difficult to be aware of the problems that face other people.  It would be easy to dismiss Brian as an anomaly or a unique case unless you knew Brian.  I have had several friends who were disabled including:  Billy Golfus, Jeff Bangsberg and Brian Rogers.  They have all been unique individuals.  I have not known one of them to be content taking handouts or sitting on their butts expecting other people to do things for them.  In fact, they have done more than the average person I know to help others and to remain independent despite their disabilities.  (Everyone is Differently Abled Song)

I have been friends with Brian Rogers for over 5 years now.  Four or five times a week at the Frederic Library and often at his house we meet to discuss politics and other assorted subjects.  Brian has traveled a good deal of America, has met several presidents, ran major university programs and later in his life supported himself by becoming a Grant Writer.  Brian was Volunteer of the Year in Frederic in 1990 and has written numerous grants that have benefited his community.  From funding for the Frederic Library to computers for schools, when Brian sees a need he takes it as a challenge to help others.  Having faced Cerebral Palsy all his life and now into his later sixties, Brian remains independent and pays his own way.  He is proud that he has never been on unemployment a day in his life. There are not many “abled” bodied people who could make that claim.

Every time I talk to Brian he is full of ideas that could help other disabled as well as other “abled” people.  He is currently working on zippers and clothing to helpwho-cares-about-disabled-people-26755-1300415261-4 protect disabled people from falls.   He recently proposed a grant to help men facing aging and dealing with the transition from an active to an inactive lifestyle.  Yesterday morning Brian fell and bruised himself rather badly.  Walking is not and has never been easy for Brian.  I have noticed that Brian has had many falls over the years and sometimes it seems to me that with age they are getting more painful and more harmful.  Nevertheless, Brian goes out every day and navigates a world with numerous barriers and obstacles that many of us take for granted.  He remains positive and optimistic about life and his ability to make a difference in the world.  Brian says, we are all disabled by one problem or another.

How many people do you know who do not have some type of medical condition that impairs their functioning?  Disability is not a disease.  It is a fact of life that as Brian states can happen to any us in a heartbeat.  It is an inevitability that will embrace every one of us as we age and grow older.

(Please take time to listen to both of the songs I have posted on Disabilities.  They are visual as well as auditory treats.)

Time for Questions:

Do you make time to help others?  Do you help those who are less abled than you are?  If you are disabled, do you still try to remain positive about life?  Do you try to make a difference in the world not just for abled bodied people but for all people?  Do you speak out against discrimination towards people who are disabled?   Do you speak out against people who denigrate and disparage disabled people with names like gimps and retards?

Life is just beginning.

Gradatim by Josiah Gilbert Holland (1872)

Heaven is not reached at a single bound;

But we build the ladder by which we rise

From the lowly earth, to the vaulted skies,

And we mount to its summit round by round.

I count this thing to be grandly true:

That a noble deed is a step toward God,

Lifting the soul from the common clod

To a purer air and a broader view.

We rise by the things that are under feet;

By what we have mastered of good and gain;

By the pride deposed and the passion slain,

And the vanquished ills that we hourly meet.

We hope, we aspire, we resolve, we trust,

When the morning calls us to life and light,

But our hearts grow weary, and, ere the night,

Our lives are trailing the sordid dust.

We hope, we resolve, we aspire, we pray,

And we think that we mount the air on wings

Beyond the recall of sensual things,

While our feet still cling to the heavy clay.

Wings for the angels, but feet for men!

We may borrow the wings to find the way—

We may hope, and resolve, and aspire, and pray;

But our feet must rise, or we fall again.

Only in dreams is a ladder thrown

From the weary earth to the sapphire walls;

But the dreams depart, and the vision falls,

And the sleeper wakes on his pillow of stone.

Heaven is not reached at a single bound;

But we build the ladder by which we rise

From the lowly earth, to the vaulted skies,

And we mount to its summit, round by round.

Day 320 of the Calendar Year: Crazy Time.

For the next 45 days until the New Year of 2016, I am going to post some blogs on the subject of Time and its implications for our lives.  I will post one a day for each day of the remaining 2015 year.

craziness_is_like_heaven_by_nicolelynnroberts-d56r5zxCrazy time today often has a very negative connotation. We think of the crazies in our world and the damage they often do. We try to figure out what made them crazy or what ticked off their crazy streak. We wonder “How could anyone do something so bizarre? What made them do such things?” However, being somewhat crazy and having some crazy time can have other connotations. For instance, many of us are straitlaced and very uptight. We are constantly trained to think about our duties, responsibilities and obligations to others and ourselves. There comes a time when we all need to let go of these “duties” and to be somewhat “crazy.”

Here are four definitions of the word crazy:

1. Mentally deranged; demented; insane.
2. Senseless; impractical; totally unsound: a crazy scheme.
3. Informal. Intensely enthusiastic; passionately excited: crazy about baseball.
4. Informal. Very enamored or infatuated (usually fol. by about): He was crazy
about her. (www.dictionary.com)

No one wants the first definition to apply to them, but the second definition has often been applied to geniuses and entrepreneurs.  The third and fourth definitions can probably be applied to all of us at one time or another.  Who among us is not crazy about something? Thus, craziness is simply a state of being that others do not share at that time. This definition can also be considered the essence of nonconformity. Those who dance to their own drummers seldom share the same state of being that others do. Thus, going a little crazy might be good not only for our spirit but also for our creative side.

Who among us would venture out and do anything really unique or different if we were not willing to flaunt convention and ignore practical reality? In fact, craziness might just be the sine qua non of the adventurous and spirited.

The answer I found is you stay away from the people who make fun of you, and you join these ad hoc groups who understand your craziness. — Ray Bradbury

Time for Questions:

Have you ever been called crazy? Why? Do you ever indulge in activities that others think are crazy? What would your life be like if you were just a little more crazy? What if you danced a little crazier? Acted a little crazier? Dressed a little crazier?

Life is just beginning.

Nothing I read about grief seemed to exactly express the craziness of it; which was the interesting aspect of it to me – how really tenuous our sanity is.  — Joan Didion

Towards a Policy of Diplomacy – Not War!

War-and-Diplomacy_3x2I was going to call this blog “how to get along with other countries?”  But the above title seemed more erudite and impressive.    As I start to write this blog, I wonder if anyone has a “policy” of diplomacy.  I will soon Google it to find out but first allow me to say a few words on the subject.  I would like to start out with no preconceived bias on the issue.  Of course, this could also subject you to my gross stupidity.  I may at best reinvent the wheel.

For the past two years, I have been reading the journal Foreign Affairs.  I am and continue to be surprised by what I perceive as the impressive understanding that the writers in this journal have concerning a broad array of subjects.  In each issue you may find articles dealing with war, politics, globalization, economics, environment and many other topics.  The articles often are juxtaposed with dissenting positions and many times there are follow-ups to previous articles with critiques and rebuttals.   The level of scholarship and experience of the typical author is almost always impressive.   If I sound like an advertisement for the journal, I am not ashamed to recommend it.

Reading this journal, I am relieved to find that many other people have seen the stupidity and arrogance that I often see in our foreign policy.  Let me state clearly though, that while the USA is guilty of many sins, I have been to thirty three other countries and I have seen the same stupidity and arrogance in every other country as well.

So on the one hand, it seems there are experts out there who have some really good advice and answers on what or how certain international affairs and problems should or could be handled.  On the other hand, it seems no one listens to the experts and instead foreign policy is based largely on emotions, machismo, avarice and stupidity.  I read recently that in 1928, a pact was passed condemning war as an instrument of foreign policy.

“The Kellogg–Briand Pact (or Pact of Paris, officially General Treaty for Renunciation of War as an Instrument of National Policy was a 1928 international agreement in which signatory states promised not to use war to resolve “disputes or conflicts of whatever nature or of whatever origin they may be, which may arise among them.” Parties failing to abide by this promise “should be denied of the benefits furnished by this treaty.” It was signed by Germany, France and the United States on August 27, 1928, and by most other nations soon after.”  — Wikipedia

A total of sixty two countries signed the Pact.  In the USA, the Senate approved the pact by a vote of 85-1 with only one dissenting opinion.  Well, something most have been forgotten along the way.  How many wars have we had since 1928?  If my counting is correct, we have had 102 wars in the world since the pact was signed.   The web site Wars and Casualties of the 20th and 21st Centuries lists all the wars and deaths since 1900 throughout the world.

quote-a-congress-of-the-powers-is-deceit-agreed-on-between-diplomats-it-is-the-pen-of-machiavelli-napoleon-bonaparte-212040Thus, what seems like a very good idea (abolishing war as an instrument of foreign policy) is almost totally ignored.  Millions of people have been and still are being killed as the USA and other nations pursue war as an instrument of policy.  In some cases, it is advocated without any deference to reason as an immediate and primary instrument of policy.  First strikes and preemptive attacks are vastly more popular these days as the world deals with a host of international problems.  When Obama’s aide Marie Harf discussed other options than bombing terrorists as a solution to some of the strife in the Mideast she was trounced in the press and by many politicians as dumb and naïve.  However, when the war hawks in the USA Congress or any other nation are quick to cry War, nary a voice can be heard that challenges the sanity or even efficacy of war as an instrument of policy.  The world seems to believe that if we bomb the village, kill all the people and destroy any and all infrastructure, peace can then be resumed and we can all sleep safely and soundly tonight and forevermore.

“A country which proposes to make use of modern war as an instrument of policy must possess a highly centralized, all-powerful executive, hence the absurdity of talking about the defense of democracy by force of arms. A democracy which makes or effectively prepares for modern scientific war must necessarily cease to be democratic.”Aldous Huxley

Well, now that you have heard some of my thoughts and opinions on the subject of war and foreign policy, let us see what Google turns up when I type in the phrase “Policy of diplomacy.”  I am going to enter it in brackets so it regards the term as one concept.

Here is the first page from our search:

About 213,000 results (0.38 seconds)

Top of Form

Search Results

A Progressive Foreign Policy—and a Whole Lot of Work …  https://www.americanprogress.org/…/a-pro… Center for American Progress  Oct 28, 2015 – Then as now, CAP supported a policy of diplomacy as the first option for preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon—and military force …

Bush Aides Speak of New Policy Of Diplomacy in Central …  www.nytimes.com/…/bush-aides-speak-of-new-policy… The New York Times Nov 20, 1988 – LEAD: Aides to President-elect Bush said today that they were preparing a new strategy for Central America that would place less emphasis on …

Peace – Permanent Mission of Colombia to the United Nations  www.colombiaun…. Permanent Representative of Colombia to the United…  In furtherance of the policy of Diplomacy for Peace, the Colombian government has received expressions of support from the international community and …  Obama’s foreign policy goes from war to diplomacy in State …

http://www.examiner.com/…/obama-s-foreign-policy-goes-from-war-to-diplo…Jan 29, 2014 – 28, 2014; Obama defended the new foreign policy of diplomacy over military might. AP Photo/Charles Dharapak. While the core President …

[PDF]Atomic Bomb: Ultimate Failure of Diplomacy – Library  library.uoregon.edu/ec/e-asia/readb/93s25.pdf  University of Oregon by S Frank – ‎Cited by 1 – ‎Related articles  conceived policy of diplomacy with both Japan and the Soviet Union. Before I present my case, however, it is important to step back and revisit the Anglo-.

Obama: Be War-Weary, Not World-Weary – FPIF  fpif.org/obama-war-weary-world-weary/ Foreign Policy in Focus  Jul 9, 2014 – Pursuing the current policy of diplomacy over intervention, Obama can achieve concrete results in several areas. In the post-Arab Awakening …

WomenCrossDMZ on Twitter: “Congressional briefing for … https://twitter.com/womencrossdmz/status/623392574636748800  Jul 21, 2015 – Congressional briefing for new U.S. foreign policy of diplomacy over war 4 P.M. today, July 21 2015, Washington D.C. pic.twitter.com/ …

The CNN Effect: The Myth of News, Foreign Policy and … https://books.google.com/books?isbn=1134513135 Piers Robinson – 2005 – ‎Performing Arts The administration had been moving toward a new policy of diplomacy that could have used military force, but this hadn’t involved setting up the special …

diplomatic-insecurityLooking at these results, I find that from 1988 in the first Bush administration through the Obama administration there is talk of a “new” policy of diplomacy.  It seems as though both Bush and Obama decided that maybe war was not as good an idea as diplomacy.  However, I do not find a specific written and described “Policy of Diplomacy.”  What is this new diplomacy that they are or have brought to the world?  Just for the sake of semantics, I went back to Google and tried typing in “Policy for Diplomacy.”  Hits went down from 213,000 to 17,800.  I perused several of the links and I still could not find any specific policy either for or of diplomacy.   So let us try to formulate our own policy.  Here are some key policy points that I think should make up such a policy.

  1. Under no circumstances can another nation be attacked or threatened with an attack
  2. Diplomats must be trained in cultural sensitivity, win-win negotiating and the language of the country they are stationed in
  3. Diplomats should be publicly vetted for their ability to respect other cultures
  4. Bilateral diplomatic discussions should always precede multi-lateral discussions
  5. Multi-lateral parties brought in to discuss a problem should be selected by an objective third party or a selected UN committee established for this purpose
  6. Mediation can and should be used as necessary by third party negotiators
  7. Arbitration should follow failed mediation efforts and may be followed by binding arbitration
  8. Disputes with any binding decisions may be appealed to the World Court
  9. Nations refusing to submit to the agreement of the World Court will be fined an amount determined by the court
  10. Economic sanctions may be used to collect fines
  11. All nations signing this policy will be protected by the United Nations Peacekeeping Force

These policy statements seem self-explanatory and are only meant as a start towards an International Policy of Diplomacy.  Some will argue that they are naïve and that is probably true.  It is undoubtedly “optimistic” to presume that war will cease to be a policy of diplomacy.  There is a saying that I like though.  It goes:  “Hope springs eternal in the human breast.”  We need to start thinking about peace as a normal state of the world.  All too often, it appears that war is the normal state and peace only an interlude between wars.

Time for Questions: 

What can we do to help stop war?  Can you support a policy of NO WAR FOR ANY REASON?  Why or why not?  What if we are attacked first?  Can we stop war from being an instrument of policy?  What ideas do you suggest?  What policies do you think we should have in our new Policy of Diplomacy?

Life is just beginning.

A constructive approach to diplomacy doesn’t mean relinquishing one’s rights. It means engaging with one’s counterparts, on the basis of equal footing and mutual respect, to address shared concerns and achieve shared objectives.”  — Hassan Rouhani

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