Do you value old things or old people?

Did this eight years ago. Still like it.

Aging Capriciously

Antiques and time seem to go together. The older something is the more likely we are to call it an antique. Have you ever wondered how old something has to be before it is an antique? Rocks are very old and no one calls them antiques. One person’s antiques are often another person’s junk. The one thing I notice about antiques is that people of the “time” were more than happy to get rid of them. The last thing in the world they would have thought of was to hold onto these “antiques.” Back before their “antique” became “priceless,” if they could have traded up for something newer or better they would have. However, once something becomes an “antique” we want to hold on to it regardless of how useless or out of style it may be. Antiques seem to write their own rules for style.

Those who are into…

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My Name is Carmen: I Murdered Two Children

The following story is a work of fiction based on a true-life trial and murder.  This story follows a somewhat different history from the real-life story but will certainly be recognized by many as related to the story of Yoselyn Ortega and the Krim’s family.  The story occupied a major place in most newspapers for many months.  For any parent, it is a horror story.  No one can imagine the despair and misery that the Krim’s have gone through.

As I followed the trial, I was struck by the fact that so many of the newspaper articles about the murders were looking for a motive or reason for Ortega’s actions.  Ms. Ortega never testified at the trial and I suspect that many people thought it was simply a matter of allowing or encouraging her to “tell the truth.”  If only we could ask Ortega “why” she did it, we could find her motive and reason.   I have followed many related stories of murders and I have been struck by the lack of “truth” that is ever found.  Not just because suicide seems to be a way out for many murderers but even when the murderer is alive to tell their story.

two children

My name is Maria Carmen Fernanda Lopez.  I am a Columbian citizen.  I want to tell my story so that everyone will understand.  I am now in jail for the murder of two children that I was responsible for taking care of.  I was their nanny.  They say that both children loved me and in truth, I often loved them back.  The entire world wants to know why I murdered these children.

The prosecutors told a lie.  What they said about me was not true.  They wanted me to look very evil so that I could be convicted.  My defense attorneys also did not tell the truth.  They did not know me.  They only wanted to save me from receiving a death sentence.  It did not matter if the truth was told or not.  The psychiatrists who found many reasons for what I did do not know the reason why I murdered the young girl and young boy.  Each of the psychiatrists had a different theory.  I do not like to argue with anyone, so I simply agreed with each of them.  Nine different psychiatrists and nine different theories.

I never had the opportunity to testify.  My attorneys said it would be better if I did not.  I was convicted anyway of first degree murder.  I would like for you to hear my story.  Maybe, you can understand.  I do not deny killing my two young charges.  It was like killing my own children.  The children were very kind to me although sometimes they could be spoiled brats.  But what would you expect with a rich mother and a rich father both of whom could lavish much time and money on their children.  Most of the time they were fun to be around.

I was born in Cali Columbia in 1961.  I was one of twelve children.  My family was very poor.  My father sewed and fixed shoes for a living.  My mother tried to find enough food each day to feed us all.  I was the fifth oldest child and my job was to take care of all my siblings who were younger than I was.   I guess you could say I received nanny training when I was growing up.  I only went to school through the eighth grade.  No one in our family went any further.

I had a cousin Luisa who in 2001 emigrated to the United States.  She had a father who had received a degree in engineering from the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana.   He wanted to move up in the world and he was able to get a visa and a position with an electronics firm in New York City.  Luisa, her mom and her dad all moved to the USA.

My cousin Luisa and I were very close when we were growing up.  Luisa always had nicer clothes and was much prettier than I was.  Even though her family had much more money than mine, we were like sisters.  She had lots of boyfriends and we would sometimes sneak out at night to share time together.  She would introduce me to many young men, but I was very shy and not very good looking.  My first child was with one of these young men.  We did not marry, and I named my young boy Mateo.  Mateo’s father disappeared a few years after Mateo was born and I never saw him again.  My father was not very happy with me, but unwed pregnancies are the norm in Columbia.  My mother was actually very happy to have a new addition to the family.

A few years after Luisa moved to the USA, she wrote me a letter and asked if I would like to live with her in NYC.  I wrote back and replied that I would love to if I could bring Mateo along as well.  She wrote back that “Of course, you can bring Mateo.  Furthermore, I think I might be able to arrange a job that you would be very good at.”  She did not say anymore, and I was very curious.

I discussed going to the USA with my Mom.  She thought it would be a good opportunity for me but where would we get the money.  We did not have enough money for a bus trip to Bogota, never mind NYC.  My dad was also agreeable since it would be two less mouths to feed.  However, he did not have an extra peso to spare.  Sadly, I wrote back to my cousin to explain that it might be years before I could save enough money to come to the USA.

In a very short time, I received a letter from Luisa.  In the letter was a voucher for a one-way ticket to NYC.  Luisa said I should let her know when we would arrive, and she would meet us at the airport.  I immediately told my mom and dad.  My mother seemed sad to see me go but my father did not seem to care.  I packed my bags and purchased a ticket on Avianca S.A. for two weeks later.  I wrote Luisa and gave her our flight number and arrival time.

We arrived in NYC without any problems.  Luisa met us at the airport and we took a taxi to her apartment in Queens.  She was now living in her own apartment and had a very good job with Verizon company as a translator.  Her Spanish skills and good people skills had allowed her to work up from a customer service representative to a position as manager in one of their bi-lingual call centers.   Luisa had an extra bedroom which I was placed in.  My young son Mateo had a couch to sleep on.  We all hoped that I might find good employment and be able to rent my own apartment someday.

After catching up on family, friends and Luisa’s life in NYC, I was anxious to ask Luisa about this job she thought I might be good at.  Luisa explained that in NYC there were many wealthy families who wanted dependable mature women to work as caretakers or nannies for their children.  Such families were not hard to find, and she knew several families who were currently looking for a good reliable nanny.  With her recommendation, she was sure I would have no trouble finding a job.  My one concern was how I would take care of Mateo who was now eight and take care of someone else’s children.  Luisa said that I should not worry as she could help me with Mateo and most nanny jobs had some degree of flexibility.

Two weeks later after several interviews I was placed with Eric and Sarah Clarke as a nanny for their children.  They were a young couple with two children.  One child, Noah was six and in kindergarten.  The other child Emma was eight and going into the third grade.

Eric was an executive with an aerospace firm and travelled a great deal.  Sarah worked as a Public Relations specialist with the Magrino Company in Manhattan.  The Clarke’s lived in an area known as Tribeca in Manhattan.  It was a very wealthy neighborhood but very convenient in terms of Sarah’s job and Eric’s need to travel frequently.  From Tribeca to the Magrino company was less than twenty minutes by the metro or by car.  Both Sarah and Eric had a great deal of job flexibility and could often work at home.   This last point was what made me accept the position since I felt that I would not be needed twenty-four seven and I would be able to find more time to spend with my own son.  I was going to be a “live-out nanny.”

My starting pay rate would be $18. 00 per hour and I would work ten-hour days except for Wednesday and Thursdays when I would only work five-hour days.  I would work five days a week unless special occasions arose.  In the event of weekend work, my hourly wage would be $26.00 dollars per hour.  My gross salary would be $720 dollars per week.  I would take home about $600 dollars per week.

My expected job duties were as follows:

  • Meeting the children’s physical, social, emotional and intellectual needs.
  • Undertaking all tasks related to childcare, including doing the children’s laundry and preparing the children’s meals and cleaning up afterwards.
  • Caring for the family pet.
  • Meals for the children when parents were not home.

griefI worked for the Clarke’s for about two years.  During that time, I got along quite well with the children.  They were mostly well-behaved and pleasant to be around.  We would go on outings after school and take many walks.  I would buy them ice cream cones and take them to see the animals in the zoo and on library trips and museum trips.

I also got along very well with Eric Clarke.  He was not around as much but he was always polite and treated me as one of the family.  Sarah was a little more difficult and controlled the purse strings.  I had thought that after two years, I should get a raise, but she refused to increase my hourly rate.  She would sometimes ask me to do other jobs which I did not think were in my job description.  I generally acquiesced to her requests.

Now it has been said at my trail by the prosecution that I was angry at Sarah for pushing more work on me and for not paying me enough.  It is true that I thought she could be unfair at times, but I also appreciated the many times she helped me out when I needed help.  She was often very generous and was by no means a skinflint or cheapskate.  I harbored no ill will to either Eric or Sarah.  Then you might ask: “Why?”  Why murder two innocent children?

I have heard all the explanations.  I suffered from mental illness.  I was crazy.  I was overworked.  I was stressed.  I was angry.  I was feeling humiliated.  I was insulted by Sarah.  I was told to by voices in my head.  I did not have enough time with my own son.  I was jealous of the money and status the Clarkes had.  I was going to lose my job.  I was just plain evil.  EVIL, EVIL, EVIL.

Evil or Good

I am glad that I was not asked to testify.  I would not have known what to say.  I would have been asked “Why?” and no one would believe my answer.  You will not believe it.

We seem to think that whenever there is a killing, murder, suicide or mass atrocity that if only the victim lived we could find out “why?”  Humans have an insatiable desire to know the answer to the question: “Why, did they do it?”  The truth is that there is often no reason.

Theodore Bundy, Charles Whitman, James Huberty, George Hennard, Devin, Patrick Kelley, Adam Lanza, Seung-Hu Cho, Omar, Saddiqui Mateen, Stephen Paddock and the list goes on and on.  Why?  Why?  Why?  The public wants a logical reasonable answer.  The police want a motive.  The prosecution wants a reason to convict.  The defense wants a reason to acquit.  Our mental institutions want another reason to try out different therapies.

insanity

Why? Why? Why?

Don’t you think I owe the public an answer?  Don’t you think I owe the Clarkes an answer?  Don’t you think I owe my family an answer?

parental grief

What explanation or reason could possibly make any sense for such a vicious, depraved and wanton act of destruction?  Would any explanation make sense to Noah and Emma?  Would any explanation expiate my guilt and remorse?  What explanation would you believe?

I am certain that I have no explanation you would be satisfied with.  Maybe that is the real definition of craziness.  To do something with no reason, logic or explanation that can possibly make any sense.  I wish I could live my life over again, but I am not sure it would make any difference.  I have explored alternative realities and they all lead right back to this cell that I sit in today.  The ultimate tragedy of my life is inexplicably bound up with murder and chaos.

mother and dead child

They say I expressed no remorse or regrets during the trial.  I appeared to be a selfish and narcissistic person who was only concerned with herself.  I shed no tears.  But what good would regret do?  It would not bring back Noah or Emma.  What good would regret do for the Clarkes?  It would not bring their children back.  It would never help Sarah to forget the horror she saw.

In truth, I have no regrets.  I am a victim just as much as anyone else in this tragedy.  There is no escaping our destiny.

Time for Questions:

Is it possible that people do not know “WHY?”  Why do you think that people do evil things?  Are all of us evil at some point in our lives?  How do we overcome evil?  Is there really a devil who “makes us do it.”

Life is just beginning.

“One might expect that the families of murder victims would be showered with sympathy and support, embraced by their communities. But in reality they are far more likely to feel isolated, fearful, and ashamed, overwhelmed by grief and guilt, angry at the criminal-justice system, and shunned by their old friends.” — Eric Schlosser

 

 

 

 

The Seven Categories of Morons

morons

There is an epidemic sweeping America.  It is an epidemic of stupidity, naivete and short-sightedness. It has infected between 25 to 40 percent of the American people.  Higher numbers can be found in some sub-groups which seem particularly vulnerable.  I call this disease “Moronitus.”  You may well ask where I get my numbers from.  The bottom figure for this disease (25%) is the number of people who voted for Trump.  The top figure is the number of Americans who in the last Pew Poll gave Trump a high approval rating.  I mention some sub-groups have even more Morons.  This would include the Republican Party with 73% of its members approving of Trump and certainly groups like the KKK, neo-Nazis, neo-Confederates and other Alt-Right groups which no doubt are almost 100 percent infected by Moronitus.

You may think you know what a moron is, but I doubt it.  The conventional definition of a Moron has to do with intelligence.  This is wrong.  Intelligence is a passé and incorrect means of identifying someone suffering from Moronitus.  IQ has nothing to do with being a moron.  Let me clarify this.

Morons can be highly intelligent.  Morons can be rich.  Morons can be good people who love their family and give money to charities.  Morons can be lawyers, teachers, judges, blue collar or white-collar workers.  Morons can hold high and low positions in our societies.  Morons can be greedy, or they can be generous.  What then is a Moron?

Well, first, a Moron is a person suffering from Moronitus.  Of course, that is a circular definition.  More definitively, a moron is a person who believes something without thinking.  The three major symptoms of Moronitus are:

  1. A belief in something without any substantive facts or evidence.
  2. A belief in something simply because someone told you it was true.
  3. An unwillingness to change a belief when confronted by overwhelming facts or data.

Those who suffer from the disease of Moronitus tend to fall into seven major categories.  There are several other categories, but a clear majority of Morons can be found in the seven categories I am going to describe.  Many of the people suffering from Moronitus will be found in more than one category.  Some of the other categories I might mention that have many Morons would include:

  • Those who believe that guns deter crime
  • Those who believe that throwing money at social problems will improve things
  • Those who believe that the more military/police we have the safer we will be
  • Those who believe that all criminals or people who break the law should be thrown in jail
  • Those who believe that we can stop people from taking drugs

The categories above would be interesting to explore, but I want to stick to the seven major categories of Morons.  In the remainder of this blog, we will look in more depth at each of the seven categories of Morons or should I say those who suffer from Moronitus.

(A Disclaimer, if you find yourself in one of these categories and are offended — TOUGH SHIT.  The truth may just set you free.  If not, I don’t give a fuck.  If you are my mother, father, sister, brother, aunt, uncle or best friend, a Moron is a Moron.)

The good news is you don’t have to suffer from Moronitus.  It can be overcome.  However, it will require you to exercise your brain.  If you are like so many lazy Americans who can’t get off the couch to get some exercise, exercising your brain might prove to be a very difficult task.  Help can be found to those who really want to overcome the disease.

Here then, are the Seven Categories of Morons:

racists

  1. Racist:

If you believe that some people because of color or ethnicity are either superior or inferior to others, you are a Moron.  If you think that people who look like you are entitled to more privileges than others, you are a Moron.  If you think, that the only thing needed to overcome racism is to forget the past and move on, you are a Moron.

Racism is not a disease.  It is an action of a mind that is warped by Moronitus.  A group of people who either believe all the negative things they read about others or who simply accept malicious intolerance that benefits their tribe at the expense of other tribes.  Racism looks at the world through the opposite of the proverbial “rose colored” glasses.  Racists see everything different than they are as somehow threatening their existence.  The racist wants those who are different than they are to be isolated and destroyed.

religous zealots

  1. Religious Zealot:

If you believe that your GOD is the only God, you are a Moron.  If you think that those who don’t believe in your GOD will be smitten and go to hell, you are a Moron.  If you think that practicing your religion makes you superior to other people, you are a moron.

God save us from the “True Believers” (To use the phrase from Eric Hoffer) because they are willing to destroy everyone and everything in the name of their beliefs.  A True Believer justifies their intolerance and bigotry by the belief that their GOD would want to destroy the “unbelievers.”  A religious zealot or True Believer can belong to any religion.  Catholics, Protestants, Muslims, Jews, Hindus can all be religious zealots.  Look at the world around you and you can see the mayhem caused by these religious zealots.  All in the name of promoting “THEIR GOD.”

climate denying caucus

  1. Anti-Environmentalist or Climate Denier:

If you think that short-term economic gains are more important than long-term environmental planning, you are a Moron.  If you think that humans are not wreaking havoc on the environment with a result of global climatic change, you are a Moron.  If your think that Capitalism will do what’s best for the world if left unregulated, you are a Moron.

I could present all manner of scientific data in the hope of convincing a Moron that climate change and global warming are real and are impacts caused by human mismanagement.  However, if you are a Moron it would not have one iota of impact on your belief system.  Facts, science, evidence and data have absolutely no impact on the thinking of a Moron.  Immediate benefits, opportunism, greed, personal advantage and short-term thinking are the only factors that matter to a Moron.

sexism

  1. Sexist:

If you think that men are superior to women, you are a Moron.  If you think that women exist for the purpose of taking care of and pleasing men, you are a Moron.  If you think that women are too emotional and cannot make good decisions, you are a Moron.

America is not the first, last or only nation to be infected by sexism.  However, to this date, America has not had a woman president.  According to the World Economic Forum (WEF), which, as part of its annual Global Gender Gap Report (2017), ranked almost 150 countries on gender equality, the USA ranked 49th out of 144 countries in terms of gender equality.

We have too many Morons in this country who think women have come far enough or even who feel that women have gone too far.  How many people have rejected the right of women to marry other women or who make jokes about women in non-traditional positions?  The #MeToo Movement has shown the low regard that many men in positions of power have towards women.  Male icons are falling faster than the one can count as women keep coming forward with accusations of abuse and sexual harassment by men in power.  This includes men in high positions in politics, high positions in religious organizations and high positions in corporations.  The adage that “power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely” would certainly seem to apply to the use of power to take advantage of women, children and other men.

trickle down theory

  1. Trickle Down Economist:

If you think that poor people are poor because of bad choices, you are a Moron.  If you think that the best way to help the poor is by helping the rich, you are a Moron.  If you think that a society is better with no rules or regulations to manage income inequality, you are a Moron.

The famous historian and philosopher Henry David Thoreau said that “That government is best which governs least.”  Too many so called “free market supporters” think that this means “No government rules or regulations are needed.”  They seem to conveniently or ignorantly overlook the last word in Thoreau’s quote which is “least.”  Least does not men “none” or not at all.

Adam Smith, known to most students of economics as the Father of Free Market Economics or the invisible hand of the market place (Laissez Faire Theory is beloved by conservatives and those who support the idea of little or no government interference in the market place.  However, a reading of his most important work (The Wealth of Nations) would show that Smith was far from adverse to the role of government in the market.  The following is a list of government activities which Smith noted in his book as appropriate for government.  Keep in mind that when Smith wrote his book, society and the world was a much simpler place than it is now.  One can only wonder how long Smith’s list would be today.

Here is a list of appropriate Government activities taken from Smith’s book “The Wealth of Nations”:

  • The Navigation Acts, blessed by Smith under the assertion that ‘defense, however, is of much more importance than opulence’ (WN464);
  • Sterling marks on plate and stamps on linen and woolen cloth (WN138–9);
  • Enforcement of contracts by a system of justice (WN720);
  • Wages to be paid in money, not goods;
  • Regulations of paper money in banking (WN437);
  • Obligations to build party walls to prevent the spread of fire (WN324);
  • Rights of farmers to send farm produce to the best market (except ‘only in the most urgent necessity’) (WN539);
  • ‘Premiums and other encouragements to advance the linen and woolen industries’ (TMS185);
  • ‘Police’, or preservation of the ‘cleanliness of roads, streets, and to prevent the bad effects of corruption and putrefying substances’;
  • Ensuring the ‘cheapness or plenty [of provisions]’ (LJ6; 331);
  • Patrols by town guards and fire fighters to watch for hazardous accidents (LJ331–2);
  • Erecting and maintaining certain public works and public institutions intended to facilitate commerce (roads, bridges, canals and harbors) (WN723);
  • Coinage and the mint (WN478; 1724);
  • Post office (WN724);
  • Regulation of institutions, such as company structures (joint- stock companies, co-partners, regulated companies and so on) (WN731–58);
  • Temporary monopolies, including copyright and patents, of fixed duration (WN754);
  • Education of youth (‘village schools’, curriculum design and so on) (WN758–89);
  • Education of people of all ages (tythes or land tax) (WN788);
  • Encouragement of ‘the frequency and gaiety of publick diversions’(WN796);
  • The prevention of ‘leprosy or any other loathsome and offensive disease’ from spreading among the population (WN787–88);
  • Encouragement of martial exercises (WN786);
  • Registration of mortgages for land, houses and boats over two tons (WN861, 863);
  • Government restrictions on interest for borrowing (usury laws) to overcome investor ‘stupidity’ (WN356–7);
  • Laws against banks issuing low-denomination promissory notes (WN324);
  • Natural liberty may be breached if individuals ‘endanger the security of the whole society’ (WN324);
  • Limiting ‘free exportation of corn’ only ‘in cases of the most urgent necessity’ (‘dearth’ turning into ‘famine’) (WN539); and
  • Moderate export taxes on wool exports for government revenue (WN879).

The above list is taken from the paper:  What Adam Smith Actually Identified as the Appropriate Roles for 18-century Governments, by Gavin Kennedy

Kennedy has said that

“Smith’s ideas are still not faithfully represented in modern economics….I am skeptical of classical economists claiming to be his ‘intellectual heirs.’  Even today the ‘neo-classical’ perpetuate the myth of the ‘invisible hand’ and ascribe it to the market.  All markets work using visible prices (and cannot work without them!). What then is the role of an invisible hand?  That even Nobel Prize winners repeat the canard of the ‘invisible hand’ is disappointing, to say the least. The Austrian School likewise promotes the myth of the ‘’invisible hand’ which is also disappointing.” — Grasping Reality with Both Hands.

patriotism

  1. The Patriot:

If you think that Americans are somehow superior to other people are that other nations are inferior to the United States, you are a Moron.  If you think that the United States has a right to coerce, interfere with or preach our way of living to other nations, you are a Moron.  If you think that God prefers America to other nations, you are a Moron.

It has been said that “Patriotism is the Last Refuge of a Scoundrel” (Samuel Johnson).  When all thinking fails whether in diplomacy or politics, fall back upon a belief that your country is exceptional or superior to other countries.  You can use this belief as a justification for war, preemptive attacks, embargos, tariffs or undermining the duly elected government of another nation.

Patriotic Zealots have a great deal in common with Religious Zealots.  In the name of their country rather than their God, they believe that they have the right to impose their will and ideas on other people.  My Country is synonymous with MY GOD.  God Bless America and screw the other countries of the world.  God prays for victory for America and defeat for its enemies. We are justified in whatever we do in the world because we are superior.  In the name of patriotism, religious leaders line up to say victory prayers for Americans because we are the “Chosen People.”

trump supporter.jpeg

  1. Trumpists:

If you voted for Trump and still support him, you are a Moron.  If you think that because Trump is rich that he is smarter than other people, you are a Moron.  If you think that Trump cares about the poor, lower classes or common person, you are a Moron.

Trump has according to the Southern Poverty Law Center (America the Trumped) been able to achieve the following in only 1 ½ years of holding office:

  • Promoted White Nationalism
  • Slashed Civil Rights Enforcement
  • Created a Deportation Machine
  • Banned Muslims
  • Attacked Voting Rights
  • Shredded LGBT Protections
  • Encouraged Police Abuses
  • Revived Debtor’s Prisons
  • Undermined Public Education
  • Eroded the Rights of Students with Disabilities

I would add to this list:

  • Sanctioned Sexism towards Women
  • Dismantled Environmental Protections
  • Created Greater Income Inequality
  • Placed the USA in a Position of Lower Esteem with other Nations

There are those supporters who believe that Trump has managed to improve the economy (A myth fostered by those with little or no economic education) and those who believe that Trump has helped restore America’s Stature with the rest of the world, another myth.  In fact, the economic recovery started under President Obama and Trump has merely jumped on its tail end.  As for American stature with the rest of the world, we now have the lowest approval rating in recent American history.

“The survey of opinion in 134 countries showed a record collapse in approval for the US role in the world, from 48% under Obama to 30% after one year of Donald Trump – the lowest level Gallup has recorded since beginning its global leadership poll over a decade ago.”

Trump is an unrepentant liar.  The sad part is that his Moronic Supporters believe everything he says.  Anything he does is viewed by his supporters as being great and wonderful.  Most of his supporters are about as simplistic in their thinking as Trump is in his.  No amount of evidence or facts will change the mind of a Trump supporter. They are the Penultimate Morons.  There has never been a category of Morons in history who are more simplistic and myopic in their thinking than a Trump Supporter.

Well, there you have it.  My Seven Categories of Morons.  I sincerely hope that you did not fall into one of my categories above.  But if you did, there is still hope.  You can overcome the Disease of Moronitus by doing the following:

  1. Question everything
  2. Look for evidence to confirm or disconfirm your opinions
  3. Look for opposing viewpoints
  4. Question authorities
  5. Read

I fear that I may be preaching to the choir here.  If so, please feel free to share this blog with anyone you know who may be suffering from Moronitus.  Good Luck. 

Time for Questions:

Why should we challenge our thinking?  What are the limitations of facts and data?  How do we know who or even what to believe?  How can we change our world for the better?  What difference can we make?  Can we make a difference?

Life is just beginning.

“We are in danger of destroying ourselves by our greed and stupidity.  We cannot remain looking inwards at ourselves on a small and increasingly polluted and overcrowded planet.” — Stephen Hawking

 

 

 

Autobiographies from the Dead — Jesus Christ the Martyr

black jesus

I am adding a few new autobiographies to my series.  I had stopped with seven, but it seems appropriate to add several more.  Thus, I really should not have said that this series will end since so many “dead” people still have stories to tell.  If you have not read my other “Autobiographies,” I strongly urge you to do so and add your comments or thoughts to their stories.  I know many of the “dead” will appreciate your perspectives.

38000-christian-denominations-good-luck-choosing-the-right-oneThis week, you will hear from one Jesus of Nazareth.  He has been called by many names including: Messiah, Emmanuel, Christ, Lord, Master, Logos (the Word), Son of God and by himself more often The Son of Man.   He is often credited with being the founder or perhaps foundation for a popular religion called Christianity.  Today, it is difficult to see the link between the teachings of Jesus and many of these so-called Christian religions.  I have it on good authority that Jesus never ever preached killing anyone and yet many of these so-called Christian religions are continually waving a banner of mayhem and destruction at those who think differently than they do.  Anyway, it is time to let Jesus speak for himself.

Jesus Christ the Martyr

I never thought it would end like this.  Where are my followers?  Where are my disciples?  Only my mother, my sister and Mary watched me die.  All the rest – gone – all have deserted me.  The crowds I taught, the people I healed, yet they chose me to die over a thief and a murderer.

Jesus or Barabbas

I repeat:  My God, My God, why did thou forsake me?

What did I do to deserve this?  Toward the end, I could see it coming.  I wanted to have it pass by me, but I could not deny my beliefs or still my voice.  They were constantly trying to silence me.  Finally, they arrested me on “Trumped” up charges of sedition and blasphemy.  It was called blasphemy to try and tell the truth to people.  It was called sedition to try and address unjust laws.  The rulers of my time incited the people with lies against me and turned many of my followers into haters.

Jesus-being-flogged

Who would have ever thought that I, a man of peace and tolerance, would be stripped, beaten, tortured and nailed to a cross to die.  It was a painful death.  The thirst, the suffocation, the spear piercing my body were unbearable.  I cried out in vain:

EliElilema sabachthani!

The crowds laughed at me.  The soldiers mocked me.  My close family looked on while my followers hid in the shadows and in their homes.  I felt abandoned by all.  All my good works.  All my thoughts and ideas.  All that I preached and dreamed and hoped for now seemed in vain.

Jesus with Mary at the cross

I started my mission for those who were forgotten or persecuted.  I taught the sick, the poor and the outcasts that they were truly loved.  Our leaders despised and looked down on these people.  I taught them what would later be called the Eight Beatitudes.  My principles of life were all summed up in these Eight Beatitudes.  I never denied the Ten Commandments, but the Eight Beatitudes are my legacy to the world.  They represent the sum of my teachings and the goals of my life.deny god by your actions

Everywhere I look today, I see my principles torn and shredded by tyrants, by demagogues and even by people who profess to be my followers.  I have yet to see my Beatitudes enshrined in bronze as is so often the case with Moses and the Ten Commandments.  Why have they forgotten my most important teachings?  When will my teachings be placed in courtyards and on billboards?  Why are they anathema to so many people?

 

Let me explain what each of the Eight Beatitudes mean.  My body and soul will not depart this world until I have accomplished this task and until humanity embraces the ideas I gave my life for.

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 

christ says help the needy.I am talking about greed here.  I am talking about wanting more and more regardless of the effects it has on the earth.  I am telling you that happiness does not come from having more of things.  The only true happiness comes from helping others.  It is better to share with others who are needy than to amass a fortune that you cannot take with you.  Those who berate the tax collector and call him a sinner and cheat are no better than the tax collector.  Indeed, those who refuse to pay their fair share for the life they are given are worse than the tax collector.  

Blessed are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted. 

god told me to hate youI am talking about sin here.  I am talking about grieving your mistakes and injustices towards others.  No one can walk in this world without hurting others either deliberately or by mistake.  But the people who will be comforted in the next world are those who regret their mistakes and injustices and ask for forgiveness.  They are the people who acknowledge their sins and mistakes and try to make amends.  I was not perfect, and no one born of this world is perfect.  The good and just man admits his vices and tries to overcome them.  The good and just man tries to make amends to the people he has hurt or abused.

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. 

child-for-hours-simply-because-hes-a-muslim-youre-not-13669022The narcissist and the man full of hubris will do injustice to all they meet.  The narcissist thinks that the world revolves around his needs, wants and desires, and is content to ignore the needs and wants and desires of others.  The man of hubris is overly prideful and arrogant and thinks that he has earned the right to have more than others.  Both feel that everyone else is there to serve their needs and that their needs come before the needs of anyone else.  The injustice done by these beliefs amounts to a mountain of intolerance and discrimination towards anyone who is perceived as inferior or beneath their consideration.  For this reason, I say “Do not look upon yourself as being better than others.  Remember that there but for the grace of God, would you go.”

Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. 

The righteous man looks for justice.  The righteous man looks for what is good in the confucious on good thoughtsworld.  No one who is not seeking righteousness and justice can expect to find peace.  I say that your task is to look for justice where there is injustice.  To look for goodness where there is wickedness.  You can never complete your search.  Your hunger will never be sated.  Your thirst will never be quenched.  Each generation must take up the search because evil is in our own hearts.  Only by looking to replace evil with justice and righteousness can the evil that is within us be banished.  We are all born with original sin, but the righteous man is the one who overcomes their sinfulness by replacing it with a goodness that transcends earthly needs and desires.

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. 

christians and gaysThose who show mercy towards others will have mercy shown towards them.  I lived in a time when lepers, Samaritans, non-Jews and many others were thought to be unworthy of mercy.  Mercy was always for those in our own tribe.  This meant mercy for Jews if you were a Jew.  Mercy for Romans if you were a Roman.  No mercy was to be shown to the poor for they were lazy.  No mercy was to be shown to the sick because they were sinners.  No mercy was to be shown to those of other religions because they were “non-believers.”

I say that those who only show mercy to those of their own tribe, only to those who are like them, will never have mercy shown towards themselves.  I have said before that:

“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you?  Even sinners love those who love them.  And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that.  And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you?  Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full.  But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back.  Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.  Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”

Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God. 

fakechristiansI say to you that the pure of heart are those with integrity and character.  They are without selfishness and seek primarily to do good for others regardless of the cost to themselves.  They are not opportunists who try to squeeze the most for themselves at every turn of events.  Neither are they sycophants who yield their ideas and actions to others so they can creat more profit for themselves.  The pure of heart are not greedy.  They are not profit driven.  They are not out for fame and fortune.  The pure of heart care only about the good they can do for others.  Others include the entire human race and not simply those who belong to their tribe or religion or country.  Those who put humanity above patriotism, humanity above family, humanity above friendships and humanity above self will surely see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God. 

peacemakersRage, jealousy, ingratitude, intolerance, bigotry and fear are the enemies of peace.  Those who want peace must be willing to beat their swords into plowshares.  If you follow my Beatitude, you will disarm yourself.  You will throw down your guns.  You will deactivate your nuclear weapons.  You will turn your armies for war into armies for education.  There is no peace possible in aggression.  There is no peace possible in hatred.  There is no peace possible in defensiveness.  The only path to peace is to turn the other cheek.  How many times have I said you must do this to find peace?

“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’  But I say to you, do not resist the one who is evil.  But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.  And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well.   And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.   Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.”

I will someday be extolled for giving my life so that others may be saved.  It will be said about me that “He gave his body and blood so that they may have eternal life.”  Yet, I see a world now where people are so afraid of each other that they carry concealed weapons, where they lock people up for the slightest offenses and where they have weapons to destroy the entire planet many times over.  I do not see a peaceful people.  I do not see peaceful governments.  I do not see peaceful leaders.  I do not even see peaceful Christian churches.

Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 

Martin_Luther_King_1872702iActions speak louder than words.  All those who cry out “Lord, lord” will not enter into the kingdom of heaven.  What good is the salt if it has lost its taste?  Those who speak beautiful words will not enter my kingdom without beautiful deeds to match their words.  I spoke out my ideas and thoughts. I challenged the powers that were corrupt.  I was taken up to the mountain and promised fame and fortune and power by Satan if I renounced my beliefs, but I remained steadfast.  I was persecuted and crucified, but I never renounced my beliefs.  How then do you think you will be saved by being nice to others and by silencing your thoughts in the face of evil?  No one who speaks my name should expect to escape persecution.  There is no change without struggle and oppression.

These are my Eight Beatitudes.  These are my meanings for each of them.  If you want to follow me, follow my teachings.  Do not say “I am a Christian and follower of Christ” when you reject any one of these Beatitudes.

I must leave this this place now.  I cannot rest in peace.  My body has been stolen and taken to some hidden place.  But my body is only temporal.  It is my soul that now cries out for justice.  But it is not the justice of revenge or the justice of retribution, it is the justice of love.

They believe I will come again.  I hear their words praying for the Second Coming of Christ.  It is impossible.  I cannot come back to a people who practice hate and vengeance and violence in my name.  My soul will roam this planet for all eternity if my name continues to be blasphemed by the hypocrisies of those who say, “Lord Lord” or “Jesus is my Savior.”

Jesus looking at the earth

I go now, but I go to ask my Father “why?”  What was this all for?  Is there some difference on earth that I do not see or was it all in vain?  Please Father, help me to understand.

Time for Questions:

Are you a Christian?  Why or why not?  If you follow Christ, what difference have you made in the world?  How are you helping the poor, the sick and the needy?  Do you have to be a Christian to help others?  Have you read the “Parable of the Good Samaritan?”  Who was his brother?  Who are you brother or sister to?  Who do you hate?  Why?  What would Jesus say?

Life is just beginning.

A prayer of St. Francis of Assisi:

“Lord, make me an instrument of your peace; where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is discord, union; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; and where there is sadness, joy.”

“O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console; to be understood, as to understand; to be loved, as to love; for it is in giving that we receive, it is in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.” Amen.

 

 

 

Creating a Twenty First Century Education System

large school

We no longer have an education system that works.  This is true for most people that need education.  A few people still find value in the current system, but it is no longer a system that works for the masses.  It is no longer a democratic education system.  It has become a school system devoid of the benefits and value that it once had.  We now are stuck with a school system designed for the nineteenth century that is expensive, inefficient and much less effective than it could be.  This is true not only in America but also for most of the world.

Times have changed.  Needs have changed.  Our education system has not changed.  It no longer meets the needs of a world economy that has gone from agriculture to industry to information.  A world that has gone from analog to digital.  Changes from the nineteenth century to the twenty first century are incomprehensible.  Changes in our education system have not kept up with the needs of a modern world.  Outside of growing larger and more expensive, our education system is still based on nineteenth century principles of education.

Forty-seven-pupils-in-the-second-third-and-fourth-grades-attended-school-in-this-one-room-with-one-teacher.jpg

Nothing is more important to a nation than a democratic education system.  A system that provides equal opportunity to all regardless of gender, age, race, ethnicity, income or religion.  Education provides the knowledge and information that is the foundation for all successful endeavors.  Whether it is a building a great company, finding a cure for a disease, writing a musical masterpiece, developing innovative technology to help people or even fighting a war to defend a country, nothing was ever accomplished without knowledge.  Knowledge may not always be developed in an education system, but an education system is the primary mode of transferal for knowledge.  From Caesar to Leonardo Da Vinci, from Shakespeare to Einstein and from Henry Ford to Mark Zuckerberg, it was education that gave them the knowledge to be successful.  We no longer have a democratic education system.

school fundingToday we have an elite system of schooling whereby the children of the wealthy get to go to charter schools, private schools and high-priced universities that are beyond the incomes of the average person.  These schools may still provide a decent education, but they are “not open to the public.”  This morphing of schools from democratic institutions to elite institutions did not happen by accident.  It became all too clear to many people that the public-school system was collapsing.  Anyone who has taught in a public school today knows the chaos and bedlam that is called education in these schools.  Discipline has gone out the door and students terrorize each other and even the teachers.  The results of the decay of the public-school system has seen the wealthy shift their funding to private schools while those who cannot afford private schools often opt for home schooling.  The rise in home schooling parallels the decline of the public-school system.

Racial Disparities in School Infographic-AIR-hp-sm-01Teachers sit helplessly by as the school system they belong to sinks slowly but inevitably beneath the waves of societal change.  Like the proverbial fish, teachers are the last ones to see the water.  Asking a teacher how to fix the system is like asking a fish how to fix the ocean.  Adding to the general ignorance are pundits in both the business arena and the political arena who propose solutions based on what worked in the past or worse what they think has worked in the business arena.  Thus, we see proposed solutions such as:

  • More standardized testing for students
  • State wide tests for teacher competency
  • Pay for performance
  • Guards in the school hallways
  • More money for education
  • Smaller class sizes

None of these solutions will work.  None of them have worked.  That is why the rich and privileged have opted to destroy public education by underfunding the present school system.  Teachers all over are clamoring for more money both for salaries and also school improvements.  While, teachers and staff certainly deserve a higher pay for the jobs they do, and students deserve decent facilities, none of the changes that money will bring will improve the school system.  There is a simple but profound reason for this and anyone understanding the concepts of systems change and paradigm shifts will clearly know why.

First, in a system all processes are linked, and each impacts the other.  To change a system, you must change the assumptions upon which a system is based.  A paradigm is a set of assumptions that govern how processes are developed and allocated.  As Thomas Kuhn noted in his book “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions” when a paradigm changes what worked in the old paradigm will not work in the new paradigm.  Paradigms change when the underlying forces of a society fundamentally change. These forces include economic, social, technological, political, legal, environmental and even spiritual factors.

“In order to displace a prevailing theory or paradigm in science, it is not enough to merely point out what it cannot explain; you have to offer a new theory that explains more data and do so in a testable way.” — Michael Shermer

In lieu of a train load of data that would make Michael Shermer happy, would you accept that societal forces have changed rather dramatically from the nineteenth century to today?  Do you think that the type of business model that worked in the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century would still work today?  Do you think Zuckerberg or Musk or Brin or Bezos could run their business like Ford or Carnegie or Rockefeller ran their businesses in today’s world?  I think the obvious answer to these questions effectively addresses the need for a paradigm change.

Yet we are not seeing a paradigm change in education.  Even as I write this, teachers are striking all over America for more money.  We are still trying to run our education system on the principles and assumptions that nineteenth century education was based on.  These include the following:

  • Schooling should not start until about six or seven years of age
  • Students need a standardized education curriculum
  • Students need to proceed in assembly line fashion one grade at a time
  • Students should take courses that match their age level
  • Students need tests and diplomas to ensure that they are qualified to go on to the next level of education
  • Students need to go to school in one place
  • Most education will take place in a classroom
  • The teacher is the expert and knows what knowledge the student needs
  • College is the best place to go after high school
  • Students should go to school Monday through Friday
  • Students should finish school and then go on to a career
  • Public education funding is only through high school

Now, what if all these assumptions were no longer valid?  What if they were valid in the nineteenth and even twentieth century but are no longer valid today?  What if we turned them upside down and built an education system on the opposite assumptions?

  • Schooling should start as soon as possible perhaps as early as two or three years of age
  • Students need a customized education curriculum
  • Students proceed according to their progress regardless of age level
  • Students take courses that match their interests and abilities
  • Students need tests only to determine their level of understanding and not for passing or failing
  • Students need to go to facilities that match their interests regardless of where they are in the community
  • Most education will take place in customized facilities
  • The teacher is a facilitator and has the responsibility to aid the student in pursuing their interests
  • College is not the best place for all students
  • Students can go to school on flexible schedules
  • Students never finish schooling and education is life long and career based
  • Public education funding is life-long as needs and careers change

Can you imagine if we designed an education system based on the above assumptions rather the assumptions in the first list?  You would have a totally different education system.  In some ways, it might be like the change in business models from mass production to mass customization.  We would still have a public education system, but it would be customized to meet the individual needs of each student.

“Given the rapid rate of change, the old paradigm of one-off education followed by a career will no longer work: life-long learning is a must, and it is up to governments and employers to invest in training and for employees to commit to constantly update their skill set.” — Alain Dehaze

student failureMany young people who are now either lost in the present system of schooling or who are ill-served by it would be rejuvenated and excited again. Classrooms would no longer be places where the concept of discipline permeated every minute of instruction.  There would be no such thing as failures or dropouts.  No such thing as staying back or not passing.  No detention or hall monitors.  Vocational education, music, art, and drama would be as important as reading and math and science.  Poor kids would get the same education as DISCPLINErich kids.  All kids would find joy and fun in their education since it would be designed to meet their needs and interests and unique abilities.  People from two to ninety-two would be able to receive the education and knowledge they need to be effective members of society regardless of whether they had yet begun to work or had retired.  Education would be for life.  Public funding would be provided throughout a person’s lifetime.

“Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.” — John Dewey

Some will read this blog and call my vision either Pollyannaish or unrealistic.  I have spent many hours arguing with people over the need for change in our education system.  There is nothing unrealistic or even idealistic about my vision.  It does not represent an ideal.  It represents a decision.  Either we are going to have an education system that benefits all of our citizens or we are going to have a system that only benefits a few.  It is not an ideal.  It is a choice we can make.  Do we have the determination to change a failing system and to look beyond the norms of the past?  Can we take our mental model of education and exchange it for a new model of education?  Either we are going to progress, or we are going to decline.  The direction we go will be based on what we do with our education system.

Time for Questions:

The Socratic Method was based on what?  Why did Socrates feel his method was a better one to instruct his students?  What is “Critical Thinking?”  Do we teach “Critical Thinking” in our schools?  Do you know?  Do you think we should?  Why or why not?

Life is just beginning.

“The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.” — Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

 

Endless Horizons:  How We Learn and Develop

horizons and clouds

I have a theory about life and about how we grow as individuals. I call this my theory of “Endless Horizons.”  I developed this theory through experience and observation.  I would like to share it with you this week.  It has been a big inspiration in my life and provided a great deal of motivation for me in my journeys.  It involves the ability to accept the unknown but with a difference that is important.  Whereas many theories posit an “unknown and unknowable,” my theory says that what is unknown may just possibly be “over the next horizon.”  Let me explain more.

Once upon a time, I believed that what we see, feel, taste and smell was all that there was.  It did not get any better or worse than what I was already experiencing.  I was usually a very angry guy.  I was ready to physically fight at the drop of a hat or some perceived slur or insult.  My temper and lack of anger management got me into a lot of trouble.  I was arrested for assault and battery.  I had more fights than I can remember.

“Those who improve with age embrace the power of personal growth and personal achievement and begin to replace youth with wisdom, innocence with understanding, and lack of purpose with self-actualization.” — Bo Bennett

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Perhaps worse was the constant state of fear that it kept my first wife and daughter in.  I never realized how hurtful my temper and lack of anger control was to them.  From my throwing things, to yelling and punching walls, I was like a volcano that might explode at any moment.  Even my sleep time was violent.  I was constantly having nightmares of someone chasing me and trying to kill me.  I would wake up drenched in sweat with my pulse racing a mile a minute.

My first wife and I divorced after sixteen years.  My daughter who was fifteen at the time eventually cut off all contact with me.  I have not seen or talked to her for over twenty years now.

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“Building a better life for every child is a lot harder than becoming a world champion. Both goals take dedication and commitment.” — Kim Yuna

I knew I needed some help and I joined a treatment program for violent and abusive men.  About ½ of the men were in treatment voluntarily and about ½ were court ordered.  It was sponsored by the Wilder Center in St. Paul, Minnesota.  I completed the program (which met weekly) for about 16 weeks. After that I continued with a support group for another two years or so.  The support group also met weekly and was restricted to men who had finished the regular treatment program.  I had a buddy (Jerry) whom I could call if my temper flared up.  Jerry was part of my process or control plan for dealing with my anger issues rather than acting out.  There was more to the plan that included walks and other means of cooling off. 

I do not know whether my marriage would have been saved if I had gone through this program earlier.  I do know my wife would have been a lot happier and my daughter would probably still be speaking to me.  Another thing I know is that my nightmares went away.

Getting back to my “Endless Horizon Theory,” I first observed it in the anger support groups that I went to weekly.  Before coming to these groups, most “angry” men were in denial.  It was always, “they or she made me do it.”  “It was not my fault.”  The horizon of most men in terms of their awareness of themselves was very short.  After they went to treatment, they made it to a new horizon of sorts.  From this new horizon, many men could now understand that it was their fault not the fault of others around them.  If they chose to, they did not have to go through life angry, violent and abusive.  Standing at the horizon of having accepted their responsibility for their anger, they could see a new horizon.  This horizon was one of equanimity and if not happiness, at least not misery.  The support groups offered a way to get to this next horizon.  As they say, “Rome was not built in a day.”  Well, dealing with anger problems involves a trip of years.  It would not be an easy journey for many of these men.

I stayed in the group for nearly two years.  Many of the men I met during these two years were also long-timers.  Our support group seemed to grow together as friends and comrades along the journey.  I think many of us made it to the next horizon.  When I arrived there, I saw another horizon just beyond the one I had reached.  We had all assumed that the best we could get would be a life without being constantly angry and explosive.  When I came to this new horizon, I began to understand that there was more that I could accomplish.  The next horizon promised happiness and a positive outlook to life.  Many of us had gone from a negative outlook on life to a neutral outlook and now saw a horizon that promised a positive outlook.

“We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us.” — Joseph Campbell

Unfortunately, the Wilder Center did not see that as the role of these support groups.  They saw their mission as helping to curb domestic abuse.  They did not see their mission as helping men grow and develop beyond their ability to control their anger issues.  With the lack of support and even hostility towards our new goal, many of the long-termers in my group simply quit and went away.  I kept in touch with a few men, but the years have melted these relationships away. 

“Growth is painful. Change is painful. But, nothing is as painful as staying stuck where you do not belong.” — N. R. Narayana Murthy

I realized that when I reached one horizon, I could now see beyond it to a new horizon. It was clear to me that there was possibly an infinite number of new horizons.  If one has the tenacity, discipline and determination, there is no end to the development that we potentially can reach.  Another experience gave me more proof for my theory of “Endless Horizons.”

journey_shutterstock_576382054

My second wife Karen and I have both been to two Marriage Encounter weekends.  We went to our first Marriage Encounter weekend about five years into our marriage.  The second weekend was about ten years after the first.  Both weekends had very positive impacts on our marriage, friendship and lives.  My horizon theory was further strengthened by events that happened at both weekends.  I will relate the events at the first weekend.

I was long past worrying about anger issues by the time of our first Marriage Encounter weekend.  I had been trying to be more tolerant of Karen and some of the things that she did that annoyed me.  I had reached what I will call a Horizon of Tolerance.  I thought I was doing pretty good when I could practice tolerance.  When I could not, I would be sarcastic, rude and frustrated.  We went to the first weekend as a means of improving our marriage.  I will forever be grateful to the organizations and volunteers that put these weekends on.  We have found that both these weekends helped us to be better lovers, parents and friends.

Well, during the first weekend, we were having some discussion about the issue of tolerance.  I was pretty pumped up because I thought I was doing pretty good with dealing with this issue.  I made the remark that I thought I was very tolerant.  The response I received caught me by surprise.  It was something to the effect that tolerance falls short of respecting the other person. The speaker explained that tolerance simply accepts what is.  Respect on the other hand sees the benefits and appreciates the value of what is.  There is a significant difference between respect and tolerance.  For instance, we can tolerate minorities or people who are different than we are but that is not the same as respecting them.

I was confronted with a new horizon for my relationship with Karen and our marriage. Again, I realized that this new horizon further supported my “Endless Horizon” theory of growth and development.  I had finally accepted (and thus my theory was born) that there is an endless number of horizons.  Each horizon presents a new possibility for growth.  We cannot see beyond our present horizon, but we can be sure that something new will await us once we reach it.

“Strength and growth come only through continuous effort and struggle.”  — Napoleon Hill

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What does it take to reach a horizon?  I said earlier that you must have determination.  It helps to have support and coaching along the way.  As the song says, “I get by with a little help from my friends.”  It also takes commitment to keep trying.  There are lots of potholes along the way. There are dead-ends.  There are large crevasses, boulders and obstacles to overcome.  There are no straight flat highways to the next horizon.  It is not a straight-line journey.  There are times when you will get lost and times when you will go backwards.  But the journey is not to the fittest but to the ones who are most determined.

Time for Questions:

What horizon are you at in your life?  What new horizons have you found in your life’s journey?  What obstacles have you had to overcome?  Have you given up on finding new horizons or are you still searching for new horizons?  Why or why not?

Life is just beginning.

“The journey is never ending. There’s always gonna be growth, improvement, adversity; you just gotta take it all in and do what’s right, continue to grow, continue to live in the moment.” — Antonio Brown

Notes from a Trump Hater and That Includes Trump Supporters.

free-speech-churchillOnce upon a time I had more friends on Facebook.  I had both Democratic friends, Republican Friends and friends who cared not one whit about politics.  Many of all political persuasions were friends who simply wanted to ignore politics.  During the run-up to Trump’s election, I discussed, debated, argued, reasoned and fought with many friends who wanted to support Trump.  The results were not pretty.  Zero changed their minds.  I was angry and frustrated.

I unfriended many Republican friends.  Many unfriended me.  There seemed to be no middle ground.  It was like the Civil War.  You had to choose a side and the outcome was hatred and disdain for people I formerly called friends.  The loss of many former friends (Or were they simply just acquaintances?) has caused a great deal of soul searching on my part.  I realize that I am not alone in this.

I doubt if anyone wants to be labeled as narrow minded and unwilling to listen to the other side of things.  For years, I accepted Republican politics as a counterbalance to some of the extremism of the Democratic party, particularly when it came to social spending.

Of course, the same extravagant spending by the Republicans was always accepted by my Republican friends since it generally went to building a “strong” military.  A military that it was taken for granted would protect us from the evil doers out there that hate democracy.  It was a party that would create a huge monster that was a glutton for military spending and ever more wars to be fought in the name of democracy and free enterprise.

Dietrich

I believe that choosing sides is not just a matter of politics but a matter of integrity.  It is easier when someone is only a “friend”, but it becomes much more difficult when it is your mother, sister or brother.  I realize that many people think I speak out too much.  I am too opinioned.  I voice my ideas and ideology too much, etc., etc.

“We must take sides.  Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim.  Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.” –  Elie Wiesel

Furthermore, there is a certain hypocrisy coming from those who condemn people like me.  It goes like this.

Republican Friend to Me: 

“Why do you have to revile, criticize and make such pejorative remarks about Trump?  About Republican politics etc.  Why do you have to have such a negative attitude?  Do you realize that I am a life long Republican and you ‘hurt’ my feelings?”

Republican Hidden Message: 

Keep your mouth shut and do not speak out.  However, it is okay for people in my party to be racists, bigots, xenophobes, greedy and against policies to help the poor and needy.  We are very polite about this, while you are very obnoxious and impolite.  Hatred is ok if it is polite.

Republican Friend to Me:

“I don’t see why you are so negative.  All you do is complain about the way things are in this country.”

Republican Hidden Message:

I don’t see any problems.  All I see are needs.  We need more prisons.  We need more police.  We need a stronger military.  We need more guns.  We need more walls.  We need more free enterprise.  We need less government.  We need less taxes.

Republican Friend to Me:

“Why can’t you be ‘for’ something rather than against everything.  No one likes anyone who is continually criticizing and complaining about things.”

Republican Hidden Message:

It is okay to screw people, to take things away from people, to make life harder for people, to create a bigger gap between the rich and the poor if you do it without “complaining.”

The way many people speak out against anyone who is willing to stand up for their beliefs reminds me of the song in the play 1776.  In the play, John Adams is continually haranguing his colleagues to get them to agree to rebel against the British.  His efforts are often met with disdain by his erstwhile colleagues.

ADAMS –  Vote yes!

CONGRESS – Oh, for God’s sake, John, sit down!

ADAMS – Good God! Consider yourself fortunate that you have John Adams to abuse, for no sane man would tolerate it!

CONGRESS – John, you’re a bore; we’ve heard this before, now for God’s sake, John, sit down!

ADAMS – I say vote yes!

political language

If one is polite about it and not too obnoxious, then racism, sexism and bigotry are tolerable.  Those who protest, those who march and those who speak up are labeled by our polite quiet society as trouble makers, hippies and know nothings.

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”  – Martin Luther King

There is a challenge implicit here in being a human.  It is a challenge I offer to all my “Friends” to speak out.  Do not ask why I insult and use derogatory remarks against racists and bigots.  We condone evil with our silence and inaction.   Ask why you are not speaking out against the racists and bigot groups that sow hate and discord in our nation.  When have you spoke out against the KKK?  When have you spoken out against the Neo-Nazi groups?  When have you spoken out against those so greedy that they begrudge a dime spent to help the poor and sick?  Do not come to me and tell me to be quiet and to tone down my rhetoric.

the free press

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” – Edmund Burke

Jesus had this to say about his beliefs:

“Then his mother and his brothers came but were unable to join him because of the crowd.  He was told, ‘Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, and they wish to see you.’ He said to them in reply, “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and act on it.” — Luke 8:19-21.

Maybe, Jesus was trying to tell us that right actions and right thoughts are more important than relationships.

Time for Questions:

Who would be the man/woman with enough courage to give up a friend who was a racist, sexist or bigot?

Life is just beginning.

  1. “The hottest place in Hell is reserved for those who remain neutral in times of great moral conflict.”
  2. “Every human must decide whether they will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.”
  3. “If a person has not discovered something that they will die for, they are not fit to live.”
  4. “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
  5. “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?'”
  6. “The ultimate measure of a human is not where he/she stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he/she stands at times of challenge and controversy.”
  7. “An individual has not started living until they can rise above the narrow confines of his/her individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.”
  8. “Anyone who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as those who help to perpetrate it. Those who accept evil without protesting against it is are really cooperating with it.”
  9. “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

Above quotes are all from the speeches or writings of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

 

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