A Vote for Donald Trump is a Vote for Hatred, Bigotry and Fear.

blog-punch1Donald Trump is a greedy rich racist sexist bigoted homophobic coward and boor. However, Donald Trump is not America.  Donald Trump is a reflection of the worst elements of humanity rolled into one human being.  I know many people who have elements of Donald Trump in their personalities.  I know racists. I know sexists. I know greedy rich and greedy poor people.  I know bigots and I know people who are homophobic.  I know many cowards who will not bother to stand up for their ideas or the rights of other people.  Donald Trump is unique in that he manages to roll all of the negative characteristics of humanity into one persona.

“The great secret of true success, of true happiness, is this: the man or woman who asks for no return, the perfectly unselfish person, is the most successful.”Swami Vivekananda

crooked-hillaryDonald Trump is not America.  Donald Trump is a creation of a media empire that is out of control.  A media that trends sensationalism, exploitation, fear and paranoia to feed a 24/7 system of so called news reports.  A system of glitz, glamour, ads, sound bites, commercials, sex appeal and worthless trivia that has little or no educational or informational value.  It is a system that neither informs nor educates.  It is a system that thrives on the likes of Donald Trump.  It is a system that thrives on the exotic, the unusual, the strange, the bizarre, the kinky, the outlandish and the far out.  Donald Trump is all of these things but he is not America.

“If people in the media cannot decide whether they are in the business of reporting news or manufacturing propaganda, it is all the more important that the public understand that difference, and choose their news sources accordingly.” Thomas Sowell

sex-imagesDonald Trump is not even a real Republican.  The party he claims as his own is one he and his small band (less than 9 percent of the total registered voters in the USA)* has managed to co-opt.  The Republicans that I have called friends over the years want nothing to do with him.  They are as appalled as the Democrats are at Donald Trumps rise to popularity in the media polls.  Americans however should not be surprised at this.  It is not the first time that a fraud, demagogue and charlatan has captured the media stage.  Looking back through US history, we can find similarities between Donald Trump and the likes of Aaron Burr, The Know Nothing Party, Huey Long, The Silver Shirts, and of course Joseph Mc McCarthy.   None of my Republican friends would avow affiliation with any of these characters.   They are not America and neither is Donald Trump.

“Find out for yourself what is truth, what is real. Discover that there are virtuous things and there are non-virtuous things. Once you have discovered for yourself give up the bad and embrace the good.”   — The Buddha

trump-and-putinEvery country in the world has its right and left-wing extremists.  It has been this way for hundreds of years.  Fortunately, in the USA, our political system usually kicks out the extremists and the middle ground or centrists have always trumped the left and right-wing fanatics.  Due to our political system, we have escaped such maniacs as General Franco, Benito Mussolini, Joseph Stalin and Adolf Hitler.  There are many drawbacks to our political system and chaos often seems to be a major characteristic of it.  There are many people who would discard such a system in favor of stability and security.  These people would buy such a political system at the cost of freedom and liberty.  In many nations throughout the world, citizens select benevolent dictators rather than trying to deal with the vagaries and uncertainties that are often characteristic of a US style democracy.

Donald Trump would have Americans believe that he will bring us stability and prosperity, but at what cost?  Donald Trump would build a huge wall to keep out immigrants.  Donald Trump would build Internment Camps for American Muslims.  Donald Trump would outlaw Gay marriage.  Donald Trump would create a police state to keep in check unruly minorities.  Donald Trump would insure that a woman’s place was back in the kitchen.

“In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.” — Acts 20:23

Donald Trump promises to make all Americans rich.  That is how he is buying the support of a small minority of foolish Americans.   Donald Trump says “I am rich.  I know how to run things. I can make you rich too.  Look at how much money I have.”  And people believe him:  “Donald Trump will Make America Great Again means Donald Trump will make us all rich like he is.”  Well, he will promise to make every American rich.  That is the benefit he is promising for anyone is willing to vote for him.  All it will cost America is the cost of one giant prison system.

trump-wallDonald Trump says that he will create the largest wall that the world has ever seen, but it won’t keep out immigrants.  It will only keep out ideas and innovation.  Donald Trump supporters include the misguided and fearful who believe that if we only had less poor people, less immigrants, less refugees, less minorities, less disabled people and less women in power that “America Would Be Great Again.”  This is a delusion held by those who dream of a bygone era when “Father knew best, Blacks knew their place and women stayed in the kitchen.”  The myth of “The Good Old Days” is almost impossible to kill in a population fed on media mediocrity and where real history is either not taught or understood.  Donald Trump will not bring back the “good old days” because the good old days where not really that good.  Donald Trump will not “Make America White Again.”

A man asked Muhammad what was the mark whereby he might know the reality of his faith. Muhammad said, “If thou derive pleasure from the good which thou hast performed and thou be grieved for the evil which thou hast committed, thou art a true believer.” The man said. “In what doth a fault really consist?” Muhammad said, “When action pricketh thy conscience, forsake it.”Sayings of the Prophet

hate-speechWhat all of Trump’s bombastic speeches fail to note is that America is still great.  Unfortunately, the things that make America great are hidden behind the media pronouncements of Donald Trump and his ill-advised followers. The ceaseless stream of bad news, crime, bizarre and weird news that titillates so many also deprives us of being a well-informed populace.   In addition, our outlandish media system simply serves to hide the many great values that the USA stands for.

Most Americans and by this term I will include North America, Central America and South America, i.e., US Citizens, Mexican Citizens, Canadian Citizens and Citizens from Central and South America are decent law abiding compassionate and loving people.  The majority of the people I know or have met in Canada, the USA, Mexico, Central and South America will help their fellow human beings.  They are good Samaritans who will give some of what they have to provide for others in need.  They are not greedy or bigots or racists or sexists.  They are people like you and me who care for their neighbors, their country and their environment.  They are not Donald Trump supporters.

“Before someone will get the guts to monitor your life, he must get the keyboard of humility. To be a humble person, is a priority in leadership!”Israelmore Ayivor

The media and its fascinations with the likes of Donald Trump obscure the good that abounds in our nations.  The media obscures the daily good deeds and charities that are done in the name of love and compassion for others.  People like Donald Trump are raised on soap boxes and the ceaseless barrage of hateful comments from him and his followers hides the voice of the majority.  Donald Trump and his followers are the minority.

“It’s easy to stand in the crowd but it takes courage to stand alone”Mahatma Gandhi

trump-bankrupt-americaThe message of hatred and intolerance that spews daily from Trump is something that one could pity Trump for if it were not so dangerous and belligerent.  It is hard to feel sorry for the bully that is kicking other people when they are down.  Somewhere though, we know that such bullies are really cowards. Their intolerance and lack of compassion towards others is driven by fear and insecurity.  No matter how big and bad the bully seems, they are the biggest cowards in the playground.  It is time to put Donald Trump and his followers in their places.  There is no room in America for bigots, sexists and racists who are intolerant of and lack compassion for others. We need to keep America great by letting the world see the true values that guide our nations and not the distorted hate filled messages that the media loves to display.

We shall listen, not lecture; learn, not threaten. We will enhance our safety by earning the respect of others and showing respect for them. In short, our foreign policy will rest on the traditional American values of restraint and empathy, not on military might.”   — Theodore C. Sorensen

We are a few weeks short of Election Day.  The Trump bandwagon has already exploded.  Hillary has been asked what she will do to unite the country.  Unfortunately, stupidity and greed and hate cannot be united with honesty, integrity and compassion.  We will be left with an underbelly of nearly 30 percent of American voters who have supported Trump.  For whatever reason, (it really does not matter) we have millions of Americans who will vote for a man who has no qualifications to be a humane being never mind President of the United States of America.  We will have to take the problem of his supporters very seriously or risk a rerun of this past election.  I think I am on firm ground when I say that four things must happen to change in America:

  1. We need to insure a pathway to success for all Americans by creating a system of lifelong learning and job training.
  2. We need to change our political system and start by establishing term limits. I would support a system of a single term of six years for all representatives, senators and the President.
  3. We need to break up the monopoly that a few media giants have on the news. We need more integrity in journalism and not a system that is built on sensationalism and exploitation.  The news should inform people and help people make better decisions.
  4. We need a better system for establishing the credentials of candidates for office. The system of debates that we watched the past year did little or nothing to help people decide who was the most qualified candidate and what their concrete policies were.

Time for Questions:

Will you help get out the word?  Will you promise to speak out against Trump and his lack of morality and values?  Will you be sure to register to vote this election?  Will you educate yourself on the candidates and vote on the basis of values and not fear?  Will you help the world to see that Donald Trump Is Not America?

Life is just beginning.

“Americans need to educate themselves, from elementary school onward, about what their country has done abroad.  And they need to play a more active role in ensuring that what the United States does abroad is not merely in keeping with a foreign policy elite’s sense of realpolitik but also with the American public’s own sense of American values.”  — Mohsin Hamid

10- 22-2016.  Breaking News!!!  Trump unveils his 100 day plan in final policy speech.

His 100 day plan: Put women back into the kitchen by repealing Roe Versus Wade. Eliminate income inequality by giving more money and tax breaks to the rich hoping some of it will “trickle” down. Build up a military that is already as large as the next ten largest militaries in the world COMBINED. Put more people in prison who are trying to get into this country for a better life. We already have the largest prison population in the world. Sue his accusers for having the temerity to call him on his sexual predation and assaults. Build a big big wall to employ millions of laid off American workers. Finally, REPEAL Obama Care and replace it with something Great. Any more NEW FUCKING IDEAS MORON?

Jesus Got Fired Today!

poor and needyProduction Manager:  Jesus Christ, you are fired.  I have told you repeatedly that your job is to help us make a profit, not to take care of the sick and needy.  I am sorry but I am going to have to let you go.  I wish I could give you a good reference but you just don’t belong in the business world.

CIA Office Head:  Jesus Christ, you are fired.  What did I tell you about the need for secrecy and clandestine activities?  You just cannot get it through your head that we are all about lying and cheating and not about trying to help our fellow human beings.  I will have to let you go.  (Aside: “I may have to kill you as well because of what you know.”)  You just don’t have what it takes to be a good spy.

Head Pastor:  Jesus Christ, you are fired.  I kept telling you to stay away from talking about war and the foreign policy of the USA.  I also told you repeatedly that parishioners would not appreciate your lecturing to them on humility and charity.  You just don’t have what it takes to make a good preacher.  I suggest you find some other type of work.

Republican_JesusAdvertising Manager:  Jesus Christ, you are fired.  You can’t tell people the truth about our client’s products.  Your job was to make this stuff look good.  But no, you kept telling people the truth.  You are too honest and you will never make a good marketing person.  I suggest you find another outlet for your talents.

Government Bureaucrat:  Jesus Christ, you are suspended pending your union hearing.  This was your third warning about being creative and working too hard.  We had too many complaints from your fellow workers that instead of taking it easy, you were always looking for something to do.  You made the other workers in the division look bad.  You can’t work in the government because you don’t know how to fit in.

1 Week Later:

Employment Counselor:  It says here Jesus that you were fired from your last five jobs and that no one would recommend or rehire you.  It does not sound like much of a job record.  What do you have to say for yourself?

Jesus:  Well, I have always tried to do the best I can, help my fellow human beings and take care of the sick and needy.

Employment Counselor:  Do you have any experience in medicine or health care?  I don’t see any kind of a medical degree or anything that would qualify you to help others.

Jesus:  No, I never went to medical school.  My family was poor and we had no connections so I got rejected by all the schools that I applied to.

Employment Counselor:  Look Jesus, you may have pretentions to be a doctor or nurse, but you can’t go around helping other people without a degree or at least a certificate.

Jesus:  But my Father always told me that “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent.” — Luke 4:43

Employment Counselor:  Look Jesus, I can appreciate that you want to help others, but take it from me, that will not put bread on the table.

Jesus:   “No! The Scriptures say, ‘People do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” — Matthew 4:4

Employment Counselor:  Okay, let’s not get into religion. That’s not going to help you to get a job.  Do you have any useful job skills or specific abilities that would help you to gain employment?

Jesus:  Well, my earthly father was a carpenter and I used to help him in the shop when I was young.

Employment Counselor: Do you have a union card in carpentry or belong to the union local?

Jesus:  No.

Employment Counselor:  Well, you can’t get a decent paying job in town here without a union affiliation.

Employment Counselor:  Have you ever done any cooking or cleaning?

Jesus:  Just to help my mom out once in a while with cleaning but my sisters always helped with the cooking.

Employment Counselor:  Well, maybe we could get you a job as a janitor’s assistant.  Do you have any physical problems with bending or climbing?

Jesus:  No, I have been in perfect health, but I don’t think I will be around much longer.

Employment Counselor:  What do you mean by that? You must remember that employers are looking for workers who will stay and be loyal to the company until they are fired or let go.

Jesus:  I have to sacrifice myself for others and I don’t have much time left.  I cannot promise that I will be around for say much more than three more years.

church notesEmployment Counselor:  Well, Jesus, if you were asked about your future plans and what you wanted to aspire to, could you maybe forget about the sacrifice thing and just talk about how hard you can work?

Jesus:  I would not tell a lie if I were asked.

Employment Counselor:  No, of course not.  Just don’t bring the subject up okay?  You do want to get a job don’t you?

Jesus:  “My kingdom is not of this world.” — John 18:36

Employment Counselor:  Jesus, you can have your kingdom wherever you want it but as long as you are looking for a job you have to be practical.

Jesus:  I have always taught my followers to be practical.

Employment Counselor:  Good, that is all I ask Jesus.  Well, let’s see. I think they have an opening at ACME Janitorial Services for a hard working cleaning assistant.  We can send you out for an interview tomorrow if that is all right?

Jesus:  But tomorrow is the Sabbath!

Employment Counselor:  Jesus, I thought you said you could be practical?

Jesus:  I am not supposed to do work on the Sabbath.  — Exodus 34:21

Employment Counselor:  Well, how about coming back to see me next week then Jesus.  I think we may need a little more time for your case.

Jesus:  Ok, I will come back next week.  Goodbye.  (Jesus leaves the office)

Employment Counselor:  (To no one in particular) whew, am I glad that guy is gone. I hope he does not come back.  What a pain.  He will really hurt my job placement figures this week.

Jesus Christ:  (Walking out of the building) “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.” — Luke 23:34

Time for Questions:

Would you hire Jesus?  Why?  Would you hire him as your mentor or “Rabbi?”  Why?  If you were an employment counselor, what would you suggest Jesus do?  Do you think there is a place for Jesus in today’s world?  Do people really understand the message of Jesus or his “Good News?”  How many people follow this message?  Are you one of them?  Here is a quiz to see if you are:

  • Are you against capital punishment?
  • Do you condemn war as a means of diplomacy?
  • Do you turn the other cheek when someone does you wrong?
  • Do you think criminals deserve forgiveness too?
  • Are you willing to have society help the poor and needy?
  • Do you personally help the poor and needy?
  • Do you condemn greed and the other seven deadly sins?
  • Do you practice the 8 Beatitudes?

Life is just beginning:

“Want to keep Christ in Christmas? Feed the hungry, clothe the naked, forgive the guilty, welcome the unwanted, care for the ill, love your enemies, and do unto others as you would have done unto you.”  — Steve Maraboli

Facts, Data, Evidence and the Search for Truth. How do we know what to believe anymore? – Part 1

truth-2I watched several shows the other day in which Trump supporters were interviewed.  People are as curious about his supporters as they are about Trump.  Given the unquestionable fact that Trump is a greedy sexist racist hate monger, why would anyone support him?  The assumed knowledge is that his supporters are a bunch of ignorant losers:  people who are uneducated or at best semi-literate.  However, the data and demographics do not entirely support this conclusion.  Many Trump supporters are intelligent educated and literate people.  These are also people who believe in the United States of America and care about their country.  What then persuades or convinces them that Trump is the right person for the job of POTUS?  His qualifications pose a questionable proposition that would seem to fly in the face of all known facts in the entire universe.  This dilemma strikes at the heart of the matter.  We do not know what to believe any more.  What is a fact?  What is evidence?  What is objective data?  Where can we find facts that are truthful (not really a redundancy)?

I think about my graduate students at the college where I have taught for many years.  These are students who are working on an MBA and are highly literate, highly educated and highly intelligent individuals.   Many of them already hold very well paying jobs and responsible positions in successful companies.   Nevertheless, the challenge that I continually face is to teach them the difference between facts, data, evidence and truth.  Despite their literacy, few of these students understand the difference.  This is a scary situation.  If these highly educated students do not understand the difference between these concepts, how can we expect the many uneducated members of the general public to understand and comprehend the essential elements of truth finding?  I say essential because facts, data and evidence are the three pillars of truth.  If you do not have these, you cannot find the truth.

liesSeveral problems make the issue even more complex.  In academia, we are dealing with a subset of life in which there is much less confusion over the truth since no one is deliberately trying to distort, lie or sell us anything.  There may be stupidity, lack of knowledge and even ignorance by many scientists and professors but the greed motive is much less tangible.  I am not saying it does not exist, but for most of my teaching career, I cannot think of anything I have ever tried to sell to my students and make a profit on.  I can say with some confidence that this is also true of all the instructors whom I have ever known or worked with.  The same situation does not exist outside of academia.  The marketplace is a vicious jungle when it comes to searching for the truth while academia is a tame zoo in comparison.

When we enter the marketplace and even more so in the political arena, the motive to convince us of something relies much less on elucidating the truth than it does on obfuscating the truth in order to sell us something.  Wells Fargo Bank wants you to open a credit account.  They don’t care whether you need it or not.  Volkswagen wants to sell you a car even if they have to hide the truth about pollution levels.  Every politician in America wants you to vote them into office.  They don’t want you to know the real truth about their competition or that they do not have all the answers to the problems facing our country.

Companies and politicians have a vested interest in hiding the truth from you.  Stories like Miracle on 31st Street where Macy’s sent people to Gimbels are few and far between and exist mostly in fantasy.  Similarly, stories about politicians with ethics such as “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” have become legendary because they depict a reality that seldom exists.  Most politicians will promise you the moon to get your vote and most companies will not tell you the truth about cigarettes, drugs, food or anything else unless forced to do so by some form of government regulation or mandate.  It does not matter whether it will kill you or not as long as you buy it or elect them.

trump-versus-hillaryFinally, we come to perhaps the biggest ruse of all.  If anyone is searching for the truth, they will eventually enter into the Fourth Estate.  This hallowed ground is defined as:  “A societal or political force or institution whose influence is not consistently or officially recognized.  Fourth Estate most commonly refers to the news media, especially print journalism or The Press.” (Wiki).   Thomas Jefferson believed that the two pillars of a democratic society were an educated citizenry and a free press.  Mark Twain was somewhat more skeptical about the power of the press and information to inform people when he noted that:  “If you don’t read the newspaper, you’re uninformed. If you read the newspaper, you’re mis-informed.”  The truth seeker has been taught since early childhood that in the domain of the Fourth Estate is to be found the truth.  Little do they know the quagmire they have entered into or that the role of truth finding in the Fourth Estate no longer exists.

Today, the major purpose of the news (whether print or digital or video or audio) is to sell.  Sell, sell, sell, sell and sell some more.  Sell junk, sell drugs, sell expensive credit cards, sell stuff and more stuff.  Stuff you don’t need, won’t need and will probably never need.  The job of the media is to convince you that you do need stuff, that you desire stuff and that you cala_verite_par_jules_joseph_lefebvren not possibly live without stuff.

I once thought that journalists were a group to be respected.   This was based on the knowledge that they had often risked their lives and their reputations to bring us the truth.  Today, journalists are little more than pimps for advertisers.  They have sold their souls to the devil, descended into hell and may never come out again.  The measure of a journalist is not how much information they provide to the public but how many advertisements they can sell.  The changing role of journalists has made it even more difficult for people to find the truth.  Nothing in the news is remotely objective or unbiased any more.  Every paper, every station has their spin on things.  The spin is determined by who owns and controls the media.
Take polls for example.  As we go into the final days of the 2016 US presidential election, you can find polls that favor one candidate or the other candidate.  If there are seventy polls, half may favor one candidate and half may favor the other candidate.  There is no truth even in these so called unbiased statistical polls.  Many of my friends have suggested that the news media want the race to be close because this keeps people tuned in.  Much like a sports match, we would rather watch an event that had a pair of evenly matched contestants.  My friends have suggested that the news seems to do its best to insure that first one candidate gets major media attention thus elevating them in the polls and then it switches to the other candidate providing them attention that elevates their poll numbers.  I am not a big conspiracy theorist but this theory does seem to have some merit to it.

78-trump-debate-lies-758x426Regardless of whether the media intentionally want to keep the race close or not, there is no denying that the candidate who is the most obnoxious, the most outrageous and the most sensational will garner the most press.  Trump has been well aware of this and has continually manipulated the media into providing him billions of dollars in free advertising.   The fickle public seems to swing from one candidate to the other depending on who they see in the news.  Trump has undoubtedly benefitted from his ability to keep the press absorbed with his every utterance regardless of how inane they are.  He can tweet at 2AM in the morning and be assured that Fox News will carry his tweet on the 7 AM morning news.

stupid-trump-supportersHow then can we blame the general public, educated or not, of being uninformed or misinformed when most of our society is conspiring against them finding the truth?  It is a trap that I have fallen into when I have railed against the stupid, illiterate and uninformed Trump supporters.  Sadly, they are not to blame for their reliance on Trump to give them the truth.  The have certainly not found it in academia or the Fourth Estate.  I have some solutions to this issue but I do not have the entire answer to it.  I do have part of the answer.  It is quite clear to me that one must understand the difference between facts, data, evidence and the role of these three elements in helping to shape the truth.   In Part 2 of this blog, I will go into the subject of Facts in more depth.  In the following parts, I will cover Data, Evidence and Truth.

Time for Questions:

How do you know what to believe?  Who do you trust to give you unbiased information?  How much do you trust the news?  Are you satisfied with the quality of the information you get from journalists and the news?  What do you think we need to do to improve the quality of information the American public receives?

Life is just beginning.

“There’s a danger in the internet and social media.  The notion that information is enough, that more and more information is enough, that you don’t have to think, you just have to get more information – gets very dangerous.” — Edward de Bono

Politics, Passions, Economics and Care Giving:  What is life really about?

Last week I turned 70 years old.  This was quite a milestone for a guy who once did not think there was any life beyond thirty.  This week, I attended the 52nd Nobel Conference at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter Minnesota.   I would bet Minnesota has more towns named after saints than any other state or perhaps even country in the world.  One wonders why these early Scandinavians who settled in this area of the Midwest needed to pay so much homage to saints.  Knowing as many Lutherans as I do (My spouse belongs to this crazy cult of Christians) I would have thought that they would have named more cities after composers.  We should have dozens of cities with names like: Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, Praetorius, Vulpius, Schein, Schütz and of course Handel.  Is there a Lutheran who has not song the Halleluiah Chorus?  However, I digress.

Monday night this week, Karen and I watched the “Great Debate” live on Facebook or YouTube.  The debate featured the two presidential candidates for the USA in their first head to head confrontation.  The purpose of such debates is to demonstrate the candidates’ positions on key policy issues and to highlight their competency or lack of competency for the job.  However, everyone knew or expected that the debate might deal with everything from sex to gender and even past indiscretions of the candidate’s spouses.  The true wild card (besides Trump) was the moderator.  In the past, the moderators have been unable to control the debaters and this fault was even more egregious with Trump.  Thus this debate had the potential of a no-holds boxing much with no rules that would make an MMA (mixed martial arts) match look tame.

In round one, Hillary came out first and as Trevor Noah noted gave the first lie of the evening.  She said “Donald, it is good to be here with you tonight” or something like that.  The first round was tame with each candidate feeling the other out.  Like two boxers probing each other to see where the weak points were they were both careful to be courteous and to look presidential.


Of course, as is now well known and thus shall not be endlessly repeated, the debate went downhill from there, as least as far as Trump was concerned.  If anyone thought that he could “stay on topic” or demonstrate an even rudimentary knowledge of policy and positions, I will be happy to sell them the Brooklyn Bridge.  His supporters must be either delusional or stupid.  Only sycophants or as we used to call them in school “ass kissers” like Giuliani and Christie would have thought that Trump looked anything but the sexist and bigot that he is.

Hillary won every round as Trump made a fool of himself in the following areas:

  • Appearing unprepared
  • Bragging about not paying taxes
  • Bragging about his bankruptcies being smart business
  • Continuing to insult women and call them names
  • Continually interrupting and shouting over the moderator and Hillary
  • Having no concrete plans or ideas that were practical or feasible

Subsequent polls now show Hillary back up by several points and Donald on the decline again.  However, it is too early to declare the game over as there are still too many people out there who flip flop every day and who seem to change their minds depending on which way the wind is blowing.


People with Passion can Change the World for the Better

Traveling down to St. Peter on Tuesday to pick up my friend Vic who was going to the conference with me, I finished another one of the Great Courses by the Teaching Company.  This one was called “The Passions: Philosophy and the Intelligence of Emotions” by Professor Robert C. Solomon.  This was an audio course that you play in your car.  I have completed several of these now and the quality of these courses is very high.  The speakers are outstanding and the lectures are usually quite enthralling.  These courses make long trips much less tedious and as a bonus you learn something about life.  I learned about the importance of emotions and as opposed to my old idea that emotions (like Spock thought) were useless impediments in life.  I now appreciate how much they add to my life.  Life without emotions would be a world without color.

2016-logoOn Tuesday and Wednesday along with my good friend Vic Ward, I attended the 52nd Nobel Conference which was titled:  “In Search of Economic Balance.”  It featured many illustrious and highly respected economists such as:  Dan Ariely, Orley Ashenfelter, Paul Collier, Deirdre McCloskey, John List and several other well-known economists.  After every lecture, there was a panel discussion where the speaker and several of the other economists had a chance to discuss and interact.  Following these discussions, my friend and I debated, discussed and summarized what we thought were the most important points of each lecture.  I attended eight lectures, six panel discussions and numerous discussions each evening with Vic.

jims-apple-farmOn the way back from St. Peter, we stopped Jim’s Apple Farm when we saw a sign that said “Next exit, Minnesota’s largest candy store.”  I bought several treats for Karen and the guys at the library in Frederic. Jim’s lived up to its billing.  It may just be the largest candy store in the US. It is certainly the largest candy store I have ever been in.

I returned home late on Thursday and had a brief respite before traveling out again.  On Friday, Karen and I went to New Richmond to attend the 10th Annual Regional Caregivers Conference at the Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College.  The theme this year was “Finding Hope, Humor and Heart in Caregiving.”  The keynote speaker was Elaine Sanchez, author and co-founder of Caregiverhelp.com.

Karen and I both attended Elaine’s keynote speech and then Karen went to a session on music therapy while I attended a session on “Coping with Anger and Guilt in Caregiving” that was also given by Elaine Sanchez.  I have to say that Ms. Sanchez was one of the best speakers I have ever heard in my life.  The major thrust of the conference this year was dealing with people who are getting old (Karen and I) and how to handle people with conditions such as Dementia, Delirium, Alzheimers and Depression with love and compassion.  My background as you might know has little to do with such medicine.  However, with Karen and I both passing the 7th decade of our lives, the future has an increasing probability that one or the other of us will sooner or later face a debilitating condition that will require the other of us to provide care and support.  Thus, the purpose of attending this conference was for us to better learn the basics of caregiving for the elderly.

2016-conference-banner-for-web_post-conference-version_thin-1024x248Karen having spent thirty years of her life in Home Health Care is much better grounded and infinitely more knowledgeable than I am in this area.  Many of the ideas in the conference sessions were basic for her but for me the opposite was true.  I had my eyes opened and many of my concepts about conditions such as Dementia have now been thrown out the window.  I cannot begin to describe how much I learned at this conference and how valuable the ideas were for me.

Perhaps even more important than the knowledge and theory I learned was the fact that Karen and I are both committed to continuing our journey through life together no matter what obstacles are thrown in our way.  Karen had a mammogram on Monday of this week and when we returned home from the conference on Friday, we found an envelope in the mail from the clinic.  The results were not entirely positive and she now has to go back to the clinic for some follow-up tests.  Karen’s mother died from breast cancer so this is a particularly threatening and scary area for her.  Each day seems to bring good news and bad news and a never ending challenge to stay positive in the face of the difficulties that growing old poses.  I am sorry to tell you but one does not grow old like fine wine at least in the physical domain and often not in the mental domain either.

The week is now coming to a close.  We have visitors from out of town today and Sunday may just be the first day this week where nothing is happening.  But looking back on the week, can anyone tell me what ties these conferences, debates and courses together?  What do the subjects of politics, economics, passions and care giving have in common?  Four seemingly very disparate themes, yet a common thread clearly run through all of them.  Like a mosaic or kaleidoscope, the more I journey through life, the more apparent the interconnectedness of all life is.

Donald Trump will soon be ancient history and like Joe McCarthy will be relegated to the garbage bin of American political life.  His supporters will disappear as the political landscape is placed back into a better equilibrium with life and nature.  Hillary Clinton will become the first woman in American history to be elected president.  The clown that called her a crook and liar will become a laughing stock and an embarrassment to the people that supported him.  Few people will admit that they voted for this bottom feeder.

Life will go on.  Baby Boomers will continue to age.  Many will suffer from some form of Dementia.  The major problem of American life will turn from dealing with economic issues to how we can take care of so many elderly people who have no money and cannot take care of themselves.  It is a question that politicians, economists and caregivers must all have passion about or we will have a national catastrophe of epic proportions.  If we do not pay attention to these issues, we will have a Great Depression but it will not be an economic depression but a Depression of Care and Love for our growing elders.

Time for Questions:

What did you do this week?  Was it a good week or a bad week for you? Did you learn anything new this week?  What did you learn?  Do you enjoy life or find it boring?

Life is just beginning.

I guess we have all heard that tired old bromide “Today is the first day of the rest of your life” but if it is not then what is it?  Today may not be the first day of life for some people, it may just be the last day.


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