Why Are We Really Supporting Ukraine?

russia

As the proxy war between the the USA and Russia continues in the Ukraine, I am still left wondering “What is the real motive for this war.”  It is all too easy to believe the propaganda put out by the US State Department such as the interview that follows with the US Ambassador to the Ukraine.  According to this narrative, it is all about freedom, peace, justice, and equality for the world.

Perhaps, I am simply a cynic at heart or perhaps it is due to my 76 years of experience with similar protestations when it came to wars and military efforts elsewhere such as in Vietnam, Yemen, Somalia, Pakistan, Iraq, Libya, Kuwait, Syria, and Afghanistan.  Efforts that beg many questions. 

Are we really fighting for peace, freedom, and democracy in the world?  Should we be fighting for these values?  Are we consistent in our values or are we simply USA Hypocrites?  Is America the Good Guy and Russia the Bad Guy?  Am I being “Unpatriotic?” 

Read the following interview and let me know what you think.

VOA Interview: US Ambassador to Ukraine Bridget Brink – June 18, 2022

Bridget_A._Brink,_U.S._AmbassadorBrink: I might put it a little different way. I think those of us who are such strong supporters within the U.S. government, within the American population, for Ukraine, support Ukraine because we see, or we think we see, and understand the future that Ukrainians want. And that is a future where Ukraine is free, independent, prosperous, sovereign and gets to decide its own future. To us, as Americans, it really appeals to also who we are. So, what I would hope, what I plan to do and what we are doing is supporting Ukraine in this immediate task of prevailing in its effort to defend itself that is crucially important. I think everybody would agree. And I think the government here and the people here would agree that another important task is and will be and will remain the reform effort, which will secure Ukraine for a future for Ukrainian children and their children.

UKRAINE-THE-UNITED-STATES-ARE-NOW-FIGHTING-A-PROXY-WAR-WITH-RUSSIA-1

VOA: And this war is not only about Ukraine. Ukraine is fighting for a bigger goal, for democracy. Is Ukraine fighting for European values as well? If Ukraine fell, what could be the consequences?

Brink: Well, Ukraine won’t fail, and we will continue to support Ukraine for as long as it takes. And as I mentioned, this is obviously very important to Ukraine, and it’s also really important to European security. It’s really important to America, because, as President Biden has said, it’s both morally outrageous what has happened, this unprovoked, unjustified attack on a sovereign nation. But it also is in America’s vital interest to have peace and security in Europe. So, this is something that has repercussions that go well beyond Ukraine. And for this reason, we all understand very much what’s at stake. And that’s why we’re here to help Ukraine prevail.

For the full interview click on the link below:

https://www.voanews.com/a/voa-interview-us-ambassador-to-ukraine-brink/6623182.html

I appreciate any comments that you have time to post.  Thank you for considering these questions. 

A Sign of the Times: Are We Living in Heaven Or Hell?

Zeitgeist (1)

Zeitgeist is a German word that roughly translates to “tempo of the times or the sign of the times.”   A sign of the times may be “ tattoos” or SUV’s, or black Fridays.   I can see a list developing here.  Some of the things I associate with the “Times” today are:

  • Greed is good
  • Shop till you drop
  • He who has the most toys wins
  • Serial killers
  • Pedophiles
  • Helicopter moms
  • Sports scholarships, sports stadiums, sports salaries
  • Astronomical college tuitions
  • Non-stop news, sports and stupid sit-coms on TV
  • Misinformation, disinformation, over information
  • Increased gas prices
  • Decreased water resources
  • Global warming, climate change, swarms, tornadoes, hurricanes, fire storms and more storms
  • Casinos, lotteries, pull tabs and scratch offs
  • Ridiculous lawsuits, ridiculous litigants, and ridiculous lawyers
  • Celebrities, royal moms, TV Stars, Movie Stars and more celebrities
  • Smart phones, Facebook, LinkedIn and IPads
  • Travel leagues, T-ball, gonzo fans, gonzo coaches and gonzo parents
  • Crooked politicians, stupid politicians, partisan politicians, despicable politicians
  • Outsourcing, offshoring, insourcing, global competition
  • Designer jeans, designer dogs, designer homes, designer weddings, designer funerals, designer people
  • Aging, retiring, and dying baby-boomers
  • Non-stop Covid variants

A “sign of the times” may be the poor attitudes of teenagers today.  But wait, wasn’t that a sign of the times during the days of Socrates?  A quote attributed to Socrates holds that:

“Our youth now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for their elders and love chatter in place of exercise; they no longer rise when elders enter the room; they contradict their parents, chatter before company; gobble up their food and tyrannize their teachers.”

Perhaps a sign of the times is the “great recession” that we are either coming out of or going back into.  Maybe a sign of the times is the “war on drugs” or maybe the increased road rage or maybe our attack on immigrants and immigration.  Maybe it is our shift to the political right and the increased influence of evangelicals and Republicans.  A sign of the times is an expression used to denote something that seems symbolic or emblematic of the era we are living in.  “Sign of the times” was a phrase strongly related to Roman Catholicism in the era of the Second Vatican Council.  It was taken to mean that the Church should listen to, and learn from, the world around it.” (wikipedia.org)

Vatican_2-Wikimedia-660x350-1531895280

The problem is we do not have any good reference points to compare our times to.  Most of us do not have a very good knowledge of history or of what happened even a few years ago.  We all tend to forget how things really were.  So, we think: crime is worse today, teenagers are worse today, life is harder today, etc. Then we say: “it’s a sign of the times.”  However, it could easily be a sign of many times and eras gone by.  What then are the dependable and predictable signs that would allow us to say with certainty that our times are different (for better or worse) than past times?

trumpVery few things emerge that make good signs of the times.  Rising costs and rising taxes have been true forever.  War, famine, and pestilence were frequent during the days of the Pharaohs and are still with us today.  Disease kills millions yearly and people do not really seem any less or more happier than in days gone by.  Is life easier or more difficult today?  You would probably notice that it depended on who you asked.

How then can we find a true and accurate “sign of the times?”  Bottom line is you will probably not. The idea sounds good on paper, but it is just too subjective.  There are few signs that exist today that could irrefutably tell you what year or even decade it was, without the value of hindsight.  A hundred years from now, it may be possible to look back at today and say things about it with some certainty, but the present is never certain.  That is why the past cannot predict the future.

We seem to dwell on the “bad signs” but maybe you can think of some good signs of the times.  For instance, income levels are rising across the world and many diseases have now been eradicated that plagued humanity for centuries.  We should make a list of all the good signs.  I think it would probably be longer than the list of bad signs.

What do you think are the signs of the times today?  How would these compare to your signs twenty years ago?  Do you think your signs would hold up if you went back two thousand years?  Will these (my list and your list) still be signs five or ten years from now?  When do signs become obsolete?  Do your signs tell you that things are better or worse today?

Two Short Pieces to Share

These are two short pieces I wrote to share with my writing class this week. I wanted to bring something that would not be too long. We each have about ten minutes in class to share a piece of writing, short story or poetry with the other students. My first piece was just something fun. At least for me it was fun.

The Spy Who Talked by John Persico

Interrogator:  “Let’s get this over with quickly.  We know you are going to talk so why make it difficult for yourself.” 

Spy:  “Nothing you can do will ever make me talk, so do your best.”

Interrogator:  “We have ways of making anyone talk, it is only a matter of time before you do.”

Spy:  “Could you give me an example?  What are some of the things that you might do that you think would make me talk?”

Interrogator:  “We could do Chinese Water Torture on you.”

Spy:  “That’s been tried before without any luck.”

Interrogator:  “We have a new battery and could give you some electric shocks.”

Spy:  “I find electro shock treatments to be rather therapeutic.”

Interrogator:  We could smack your feet until you talk.”

Spy:  “I love having my feet massaged.  Could you do my back as well.”

Interrogator:  “Ok, I am getting tired of this repartee, you asked for it.”

Spy:  “Asked for what?”

Interrogator:  “You want us to play hard ball!”

Spy:  “Can you give me an example?”

Interrogator:  “Well for starters, we can cut off your dick and feed it to our pet piranha.”

Spy:  “By dick, do you mean my cock and balls or just my cock?”

Interrogator:  “We usually start with the cock and work down to the balls.”

Spy:  “What if I tell you that I don’t have a cock and balls?  I am actually a woman disguised as a man.”

Interrogator:  “This is why we hate women spies.”  You make things so difficult for us.”

Spy:  “Is that all you’ve got?”

Interrogator:  “Let me check with our torture consultant and see what we have for women spies.  It will only take a few minutes.”

A Few Minutes Later:

Interrogator:  “We don’t seem to have a lot of good torture ideas for women, but we have come up with one that we think will do the job.”

Spy:  “I’m ready.  Do your worst.”

Interrogator:  “We are going to force you to watch 100 hours of old ‘Father Knows Best’ reruns.”

Spy:  “Please no, anything but that.  I will talk!  I will tell you all I know.  The whole truth and nothing but the truth.  So, help me God.

370 words

Mission Accomplished by John Persico

You don’t know what you would do,

But I know what I did.

Like the good soldier I was,

I followed the orders that I was given.

245 Women, children, and old men,

All lined up in a row.

So peaceful now,

No more crying or screaming to hear.

Red people, yellow people, brown people, black people,

A rainbow of corpses all pressed to the ground.

“Sergeant, get the men back into formation,

time to move on to our next objective.”

“Yes sir, lieutenant,” I say,

As we march proudly away.

96 words

Why You Should Believe Nothing You Read or Hear in the News!

news-icons (1)I want to make an argument as to why most of what you hear or read is biased, prejudiced and based on narrow minded thinking.  Most of what you read will not lead you to the truth but will take you down a path away from the truth.  My argument will also apply to what you are about to read.  I am biased, narrow minded and prejudiced.  So why should you read or listen to what I am about to write?  Well, let’s start at the beginning.

Like many of you reading this, I consider myself somewhat of a truth seeker.  Although, I believe few if any “absolute” truths actually exist.  Nevertheless, I read a wide variety of books and magazines.  I listen to many different sources including TV, Radio, Podcasts, TED Talks, documentaries, and YouTube videos.  I attend training sessions, conferences, and talks by noted experts whenever possible.  I also scan many different news sources each day to find a variety of perspectives concerning political events and popular news.  My friends consider me well informed and very knowledgeable on a wide range of subjects.

maxresdefaultI have been seeking the truth or what might pass as “truth” for most of my 75 years on this earth.  I was considered the “smartest” guy in the room in many of my high school and college classes.  The authorities or those that are supposed to be good judges of truth and knowledge gave me two undergraduate degrees, one master’s degree and a Ph.D. Degree.  Once upon a time, I belonged to many different professional associations and was also a member of MENSA, the so-called high IQ society.  None of my qualifications or associations prepared me any better than anyone else upon this earth to find the TRUTH.  Like most of you, I am still looking and hoping that the “Truth will set me free.”  If only, I can find it.

Fake news-01

A few days ago, I noticed seven different editorials on Google News concerning the Ukrainian War.  Each of the editorials was written by a professional journalist and each espoused some very critical ideas.  Some of these ideas would carry weight with readers and no doubt influence public opinion for good or bad.  Six of the journalists’ names were listed and one was not.  Now most stories we get in the news whether on TV or print are written by journalists.  Less frequently it will be some “policy” expert or high-ranking government official who will be doing an opinion piece or some type of interview.

I started to ask myself a few questions:

  • What are their professional qualifications?
  • How much influence or weight do these journalists carry?
  • How much slant or bias do these journalists carry?
  • Are journalists and the media really qualified to tell us what we should or should not be doing?

I looked up each of the journalists to see what their qualifications were.  Basically, they were professionally trained journalists and most of them had extensive experience in foreign relations.  Neither of these attributes makes them an expert on the Ukraine but it is conceivable that they might have more knowledge in some areas of foreign policy than the general public.  Again, more knowledge does not mean less biases. Here are the news sources and brief bios for the six journalists I researched:

The Washington Post- Liz Sly and Dan Lamothe

Liz Sly (born in the United Kingdom) is a British journalist based in Beirut.  She is currently a correspondent with The Washington Post covering Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and other countries of the Middle East.   She graduated from the University of Cambridge.

Dan Lamothe is an award-winning military journalist and war correspondent.  He has written for Marine Corps Times and the Military Times newspaper chain since 2008, traveling the world and writing extensively about the Afghanistan war both from Washington and the war zone.  He also has reported from Norway, Spain, Germany, the Republic of Georgia and while underway with the U.S. Navy.

NPR – Greg Myre

Greg Myre is an American journalist and an NPR national security correspondent with a focus on the intelligence community.  Before joining NPR, he was a foreign correspondent for the Associated Press and The New York Times for 20 years.  He reported from more than 50 countries and covered a dozen wars and conflicts.

The Wall Street Journal – David Henninger

Mr. Henninger was a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize in editorial writing in 1987 and 1996 and shared in the Journal’s Pulitzer Prize in 2002 for the paper’s coverage of the attacks on September 11. In 2004, he won the Eric Breindel Journalism Award for his weekly column.  He has won the Gerald Loeb Award for commentary, the Scripps Howard Foundation’s Walker Stone Award for editorial writing and the American Society of Newspaper Editors’ Distinguished Writing Award for editorial writing.  He is a weekly panelist on the “Journal Editorial Report” on Fox News.

The Atlantic – Eliot Cohen

Eliot Asher Cohen (born April 3, 1956, in Boston, Massachusetts) is an American political scientist. He was a counselor in the United States Department of State under Condoleezza Rice from 2007 to 2009.  In 2019, Cohen was named the 9th Dean of the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) at Johns Hopkins University, succeeding the former dean, Vali Nasr.  Before his time as dean, he directed the Strategic Studies Program at SAIS.

Cohen was one of the first neoconservatives to publicly advocate war against Iran and Iraq.  In a November 2001 op-ed for The Wall Street Journal, Cohen identified what he called World War IV and advocated the overthrow of Iran’s government as a possible next step for the Bush Administration. Cohen claimed “regime change” in Iran could be accomplished with a focus on “pro-Western and anticlerical forces” in the Middle East and suggested that such an action would be “wise, moral and unpopular (among some of our allies)”

The New York Times – Cora Engelbrecht

Cora Engelbrecht is a contributor to the RIGHTS blog.  She recently received her BA in nonfiction writing from Wesleyan University, and now works in New York as a freelance writer, researcher, and graphic artist.  Her interest for human rights and global conflict stems from her time spent researching and writing abroad in Tanzania and South Africa.

rathom-trench-fb

I next turned to the question of how much influence do journalists carry?  The story of John Revelstoke Rathom (1868–1923) is very informative in this regard.  He was a journalist, editor, and author based in Rhode Island at the height of his career. In the years before World War I, he was a prominent advocate of American participation in the war against Germany.

c9713250-e5eb-46c7-8ea9-2810435084fa-9781643139364“Rathom campaigned for the U.S. to enter World War I in support of the British.  Under his management, the Providence Journal produced a series of exposés of German espionage and propaganda in the U.S.  In 2004, that same newspaper reported that much of Rathom’s coverage was a fraud: ‘In truth, the Providence Journal had acquired numerous inside scoops on German activities, mostly from British intelligence sources who used Rathom to plant anti-German stories in the American media.’” –  Wikipedia

It seems logical to assume that since we did enter the war and since the Brits did go out of their way to bias American policy that the efforts of Rathom and others had a major influence on our decision to enter the war on England’s side. America was persuaded by the media that we should enter the war when there was substantial public opinion to stay out of the mess that Europe was in.  My own reading of WW I shows a totally different scenario than from WW II.  I have little doubt that we should have entered the war against Hitler.  However, the picture from WW I is quite different.  I think that each side had equal claims to legitimacy for their war efforts.  But the media heavily influenced our eventual entry into the war.

Next I wanted to see if anyone had opinions about the bias or prejudices that the typical journalist might have.  I found the following comment in a recent article by Politico, “Why Journalists Love War”, by Jack Shafer  03/17/2022

“NBC News reporter Richard Engel, a veteran foreign war correspondent, dropped a tweet a few days after the war began that appeared to lament that U.S. forces hadn’t strafed the huge Russian convoy approaching Kyiv, seemingly unimpressed that such a strike might launch World War III.  Reporters didn’t call in bombers at White House press secretary Jen Psaki’s Monday briefing, but the tone of their repeated questions almost made it sound like they were advocating a no-fly zone and fresh jets for Ukraine.  And the New York Post left no ambiguity about where they stood with its super-partisan “Fight Like Zel” cover headline.”

“The overwhelming majority of U.S. journalists have taken a more subdued position on the war, identifying with Ukraine against the aggressor Russians, but stopping just short of cheerleading. Even so, journalists can’t hide the seductive draw of the bloodworks.  They can’t help themselves. They love war.”

Photojournalist,Documenting,War,And,Conflict

Of course, this is only one opinion.  However, it fit well with my observations.  I have noticed every day calls by journalists for increased efforts to support Ukraine that might well lead to a Nuclear War.  As I read these brash comments, I sit wondering where were the calls to intervene in Nigeria, Rhodesia, Yemen, and Cambodia?  Why are the news outlets pushing a narrative that implies world disaster if the Ukraine falls to Russia?

Listen please!  I would like to see the Ukrainians kick all the Russian asses back to Siberia or some other cold place.  However, I am not willing to start a Nuclear War over the Ukraine.  There have been too many missed opportunities by the West during the past five years that would have avoided the present war.  What is it that brings out the desire to have a nuclear confrontation with Russia?  Nothing I can see except a Democratic Party that needs to look tough and a cadre of journalists pushing a narrative for more and more support by our country for a nation that we do not even have a treaty with.

“The link between safety and ethics may not be immediately obvious, but the same ambitions and economic factors that pressure inexperienced and poorly prepared freelance journalists to enter battle zones also pressure journalists to present the news as they think that their paymasters most want to hear it.”  — https://ethicaljournalismnetwork.org/ethics-safety-solidarity-journalism — Originally published as a chapter of “Conflict reporting in the smartphone era – from budget constraints to information warfare”

A book that I am reading is “The Science of Fear” (2008) by Daniel Gardner.  The following  insight by Gardner is quite pertinent to this discussion.

9780226567198“The media are among those that profit by marketing fear – nothing gives a boost to circulation and ratings like a good panic – but the media also promote unreasonable fears for subtler and more compelling reasons.  The most profound is the simple love of stories and storytelling.  For the media, the most essential ingredient of a good story is the same as that of a good movie, play or tale told by a campfire.  It has to be about people and emotions, not numbers and reason.  Thus, the particularly tragic death of a single child will be reported around the world while a massive and continuing decline in child mortality rates is hardly noticed.” — Pg. 294

Ever since the decline of print news and the rise of the internet, the media has become a cesspool of click bait headlines, gross news reports about inane subjects, media celebrities touted as royalty and increasingly bizarre stories designed to spread fear.  There is no more morality or ethics in the news than there is in a cartel, mafia, or mega-corporation.  It is all about the money and there never seems to be enough these days.  Is the media biased is actually a very stupid question.  Right, left, central it does not matter.  They all have one agenda and that is to sell advertising for their corporate sponsors

My final question was, “Are journalists and the media really qualified to tell us what we should or should not be doing?”  My answer is that they are no more qualified than anyone else on the street or even one of your friends or relatives.  A study done several years ago and published in a book called “Expert Political Judgment: How Good Is It? How Can We Know?” (2005) by Philip E. Tetloc examined the link between experts’ opinions and how often they were right.

Im-an-expert-600x412

Tetloc in his heavily researched study found that experts are often no better at making predictions than most other people, and how when they are wrong, they are rarely held accountable.  Kahneman and Tversky in their book “Judgment Under Uncertainty” (1982) identify dozens of cognitive biases that impact the thinking ability of human beings.  They both later won a Nobel Prize for their work in behavioral economics.  It is often the most highly educated people who suffer from these biases the most.

Thomas Kuhn’s “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions” (1962) dealt with the biases that the scientific community held regarding theories and principles.  Kuhn showed how difficult it was for the scientific community to let go of “old paradigms” and adopt new paradigms.  This was true even when all the evidence showed that the new paradigms did a better job of explaining the subject under study than the old paradigm.  Science history is full of many theories that took fifty or more years to be accepted simply due to the biases and resistance to change that is prevalent among scientists.  This is as true of scientists as it is of journalists, politicians, and the average person.

What is the answer:

A friend of mine said that the most important thing we have to do is to teach our children to question everything.  To question is the heart and soul of critical thinking.  However, we must be cautious lest we raise a nation or world of nihilists.  There is a difference between rejecting everything and questioning everything.

I am not a nihilist though I see a fine line between my thinking and nihilism.  I do not believe in absolute truth, but I think there are approximate truths.  As we learn more and more about anything, our truths get closer to the absolute, but we can never reach it.  I think the same way about meaning in life.  Meaning exists but only in our minds.  It will change many times during our lives.  The same is true for morality and values.  They exist but only in our minds.  Like the Velveteen Rabbit, they become real when we make them so.

Purchasing-Power-of-the-US-Dollar

I used to hold up a dollar bill and ask my students how much was it worth?   They typically replied one dollar.  I asked them why it was worth a dollar?  Answers varied, but the truth or close to it is that it is because people believe that it is worth a dollar.  In terms of labor, ink, and paper, it costs the Federal government 6.2 cents to print a dollar.  In terms of buying value, a dollar in 1926 is worth only 15.58 cents today.  However, this is not an absolute either since the current value of a dollar actually varies from state to state.  The value of a dollar varies about 30 cents from the lowest to the highest state across the USA.  In Mississippi, a dollar is worth $1.16, while in Hawaii, the dollar is only worth 84.39 cents.

So, seeing is believing or is believing seeing?  Is there a difference between perception and reality or are they the same?  Can we ever escape the Rashomon effect?  The biases in perception created by our own desires to protect our egos or the egos of others.

1200-610551-47762564-39573934

There is little I have learned in my life that supports my willingness to accept anything as 100 percent factual, 100 percent truthful or 100 percent valid and reliable.  The solution is to question everything.  Do not accept anything as absolute.  When it comes to politicians, lawyers, salespeople, and journalists, we all need to be on guard.  Their built-in bias is not for the truth but for the dollar or at least 84 cents on the dollar.

quote-the-media-has-enormous-power-the-media-is-undergoing-huge-changes-now-it-seemed-like-thomas-hunt-morgan-67-60-81

 Update:  4/29/22

Just read the following on CNBC.  This “brilliant” analysis by a guy who writes regularly for a variety of news outlets and is listed as a “Tutor” notes the following:

“I think it’s outside the realm of possibility right now that there’s going to be a nuclear war or World War III that really spills over that far beyond Ukraine’s borders,” Samuel Ramani, a geopolitical analyst and associate fellow at the Royal United Services Institute, told CNBC.

Dr. Samuel Ramani’s credentials for this brilliant piece of optimistic analysis is that he is a tutor of politics and international relations at the University of Oxford, where he received his doctorate in March 2021. Somehow this makes him an expert in what Russia will do next in the Ukraine.  His “beyond optimism” comes at a time when Putin is starting to get more and more desperate in his bid to defeat the Ukraine.  Putin is becoming a cornered rat and NATO is pushing him into more and more of a corner.  Despite this, the genius who is less than two years since he finished his Ph.D. degree says “it is “OUTSIDE” the realm of possibility that Putin will launch a nuclear strike.  It would only be “OUTSIDE” if Nuclear weapons did not exist.  Questions I have are:

  • Why is CNBC relying on the credentials of someone with so little expertise to give us such an analysis?
  • How could anyone in their right mind say that something is impossible when that something already exists?
  • What is the “narrative” behind the focus by the Western news?
  • Why is NATO supporting a war when we have no treaty with the Ukraine.

 

The Truth About the Ukrainian Crisis

Below I have put some links to some contrarian views about why the US is so involved and what is really happening in the Ukraine. We are on the brink of another disastrous war. Please share these links.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/02/15/path-out-of-ukraine-crisis/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/01/18/stumbling-toward-war-over-ukraine-is-nuts/

Is the Confrontation Over Ukraine Joe Biden’s “Wag the Dog” Moment?

The people now gunning for a showdown with Putin were gunning for a showdown with Saddam Hussein two decades ago—with the same promises of a happy outcome.

By Andrew J. Bacevich, Feb 16, 2022

Seeing It From Russia’s Point of View

maxresdefault

“This week, with Washington rejecting two of Moscow’s three key security demands, Russian military equipment massing near the border with Ukraine and NATO “prepared for the worst,” the question dominating global affairs remains: Will Russia invade Ukraine?”

“The White House answer is a qualified yes, the Kremlin’s a qualified no. Two of Western Europe’s most powerful countries, Germany and France, seem to think Putin is bluffing; a third, the U.K., seems pretty sure he’s not. Kyiv, meanwhile, is downplaying the threat of an imminent invasion by Russia. Analysts are similarly split.” — Parsing the Evidence: Will Russia Invade Ukraine? January 27, 2022

There is an old saying that you should walk a mile in another’s shoes before you judge them.  Today, we are once more on the brink of a war with Russia.  For over 100 years, Russia has been the big bad boogie man for America.  Nothing Russia does or says can be trusted, at least according to our politicians.  It never seems to occur to people that Russians want the same thing as Americans and have the same dreams and hopes as we do.

Before I go any further, I am not a big fan of Russia or Putin.  Two years ago, Karen and I had a trip scheduled to go from Paris to Moscow.  We had tickets to attend the Bolshoi Ballet.  Everything was ready to go and then Covid hit the world.  We had to cancel our trip.  We were able to get most of our money either refunded or saved in a voucher for future travel.  The Bolshoi was the first to return our money for the tickets we had purchased.  However, the Russian embassy was not as liberal with returning the money that we had to pay for our visas.  Between the Russian and Belarus visas, we were out about 1,000 dollars.

We rescheduled a trip to Spain in 2021 with the moneys that had originally been allocated for our Russian trip.  Karen wanted to go to Russia as we had planned but I was angry about not being able to get a refund for our visas and I said “F—K Russia.  Putin has a reputation for being both a strong leader and a bully.  Many liberals in this country blame him for helping Trump get elected.  It certainly seemed to me that Putin and Trump were “kissing” cousins.  I detest Trump and anyone that helped get him elected.  Thus, you see my “credentials” for disliking Putin are greater than many.

With the above caveats about my Russian attitudes, I will now mention that as much as I dislike Putin, I also do not trust any motives given by Democrats or Republicans for beating the drums of war in this country.  With Vietnam, it was the lies about the domino effect.  Still a lie used by many to justify war.  With Iraq, it was the lies about the “weapons of mass destruction.”  There have been many coups in South America orchestrated by the CIA to destabilize regimes that we thought threatened American interests.  Seldom does the public get any truth about these clandestine efforts.  So let’s look at some facts before we decide that Russia is once more the “bad” guy in the recent Ukraine problem.

us_inter

Russia is ready to go to war!

The newspapers, Biden, and our Secretary of State Blinken are all shouting to the rooftops that Putin and the Russians are poised for war.  The former defense minister under President Zelenskyy from 2019 to 2020 for the Ukraine, Andrij Zagorodniuk, was interviewed by an NPR reporter the other morning and he said, “It just isn’t so!”  He gave the following reasons.

  1. Ukrainian estimates of Soviet troop strength are too small for them to attack without serious loses. The Ukraine has nearly 280,000 combat ready troops and Russia has only 125,000 troops on the border.  The Ukraine army is the third largest in Europe after the Russian and French Armed Forces.
  2. The Ukrainian intel shows no evidence of enough medical units necessary to support a sustained war.  He does not believe that Russia would attack without medevac units available.
  3. He doubts that Russia would attack just before the beginning of the Olympic Games.  China is a Russian ally, and they have a vested interest in the Olympics generating favorable publicity for China.  If Russia attacks the Ukraine, the publicity around the Olympics would be vastly overshadowed by the news following the Russian attack.

Why has Russia massed its troops on the border of the Ukraine?

Once upon a time, there was two big alliances of countries in Europe.  There was the North American Treaty Organization (NATO) and there was the Warsaw Pact.  These alliances consisted of countries with treaties to protect the other members of the alliance.  NATO had about 20 members and the Warsaw Pact had nine members.  With the end of the Russia hegemony over much of Eastern Europe, many countries left the Warsaw Pact.  Several of these former Soviet allies joined NATO.  The number of NATO countries now stands at 30 members.  The former Warsaw Pact has been reorganized and is now called “The Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO).”  It consists of six member countries, the largest of which is still Russia.  To say that the Warsaw Pact has been downsized would be a gross understatement.

“The CSTO is a much weaker organization in military terms than the Warsaw Pact was. According to NATO histories, in 1984 the Warsaw Pact ground forces had six million soldiers serving in 192 divisions, as compared to 4.5 million NATO soldiers serving in 115 divisions. Approximately one-third of Warsaw Pact forces were Soviet, while approximately twenty percent of NATO forces were from the United States. The Warsaw Pact also had a significant preponderance of battle tanks, artillery and attack helicopters. At present, NATO member states have a total of approximately 3.5 million soldiers, while CSTO member states’ militaries have just over one million soldiers. About 40 percent of current NATO troop strength comes from the United States, while approximately 85 percent of CSTO troop strength comes from Russia.”  Russia and Collective Security: Why CSTO Is No Match for Warsaw Pact — 5-27-2020, Dimitry Gorenburg,  Harvard Kennedy School for International Affairs.

So now we have the USA attempting to convince the Ukraine to join NATO.  Imagine if you will Russia attempting to get Canada or Mexico or Peru or Brazil to join CSTO.   What do you think we would do in the USA?  Do you remember what happened with the Cuban Missile Crisis?  In this event, Khrushchev went ballistic because the USA attempted to place missiles on Turkey’s borders facing Russia.  Russia decided to retaliate by sending missiles to Castro who was a Russian ally.  Cuba is only 90 miles from the USA border making it easy for any missiles to strike American targets.

Then President Kennedy faced off against Khrushchev.  Many people think the victory went to Kennedy since Russia withdrew their missiles.  What is less well known is that Kennedy withdrew our missiles in Turkey and agreed to Khrushchev’s demand that we promise not to invade Cuba.  The resulting publicity in America made it look like a wild-west gun fight with the clear winner being the USA.  The truth was hardly ever mentioned.

Consider the scenario we have now.  Putin has made several demands in respect to protecting Russia.  These demands hinge on the relationship between the Ukraine and the USA.  Putin understandably does not want to see a neighbor as close as the Ukraine is to Russia become any closer to either NATO or the USA.  Again, what would we do if Mexico wanted to become a Russian ally?  For the USA, negotiations hinge on three key points laid out by Secretary Blinken.

We make clear that there are core principles that we are committed to uphold and defend – including Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and the right of states to choose their own security arrangements and alliances.”

  1. Ukrainian sovereignty
  2. Ukrainian territorial integrity
  3. The rights of states to choose their own alliances and security arrangements

Consider these three “non” negotiable principles that we are using that could bring us to the brink of a Third World war.

First of all, when did Ukrainian sovereignty become a core principle of American politics?  According to Micah Zenko who is a fellow in the Center for Preventive Action at the Council on Foreign Relations, the USA has repeatedly violated the sovereign rights of Pakistan, Iraq, and Afghanistan.  We have a doctrine called the Monroe Doctrine that we have used to violate the sovereign rights of numerous countries in South America including Columbia, Peru, Honduras, Panama, Nicaragua, Mexico, and many others.  All of a sudden, we are concerned enough to go to war with Russia over the sovereign rights of the Ukraine?

If you look at the key points of the Monroe Doctrine you can see how hypocritical Blinken’s principles are:

“Monroe made four basic points: (1) the United States would not interfere in European affairs; (2) the United States recognized and would not interfere with existing colonies in the Americas; (3) the Western Hemisphere was closed to future colonization; and (4) if a European power tried to interfere with any nation in the Americas, that would be viewed as a hostile act against the United States.” — Brittanica

12774_10151260910786469_1258602601_n

It seems that we reserve the right to meddle in the sovereign affairs of our neighbors in this hemisphere, and we also now claim the right to meddle in the sovereign affairs of neighbors in the Eastern Hemisphere.  Blinken’s third principle about the rights of states to choose their own alliances is just as hypocritical and even more ludicrous.  We may say that we support the rights of other nations to enact treaties and alliances, but in reality we often do everything we can to undermine these efforts.

“The United States enters into more than two-hundred treaties each year on a range of international issues, including peace, defense, human rights, and the environment. Despite this seemingly impressive figure, the United States constantly fails to sign or ratify treaties the rest of the world supports.” — On International Treaties, the United States Refuses to Play Ball, Council on Foreign Relations.  — by Anya Wahal, January 7, 2022

What is really going on here?

My friend Bruce wants to know why we are pushing a policy that could potentially result in a war that ends life as we know it on earth.  Is it ego, politics, economics, power, stupidity, or a combination of all of them?  I honestly do not know.  I do know that 2 + 2 equals 4 and that the facts of this situation are out of proportion to the potential consequences.

My friend Denny wants to know why the media is so hell bent on pushing a narrative that only looks at one side of the issues and that seems to applaud the most dangerous rhetoric possible.

All three of us want to know why there has not been more skepticism in the media towards the efforts of politicians to push this potential conflict forward.  This morning on NPR I listened to an uncritical interview with some politician from Pennsylvania who thinks sending 50,000 American troops over to the Ukraine would be a good idea.  According to this brainless idiot, we must “Nip it in the bud.”  The old domino effect is still used to push a narrative of impending disaster if we don’t do something right now.

Is it too much to ask, to see both sides of the story?  Is it too much to ask to expect to see facts and not just hyperbole being used by our elected officials?  Where are the journalists that are paid to present both sides of the story?  How long did it take for them to discover that there were no weapons of mass destruction?  Will we be in a war over the Ukraine before the media finds the real reasons behind this conflict.

ComparisonInfographic-FB-1-1024x815

Finally and most importantly, why are there two standards at play here?  We have one standard for Russia and another standard for the USA.  Are the lives of our citizens so cheap that we are willing to put them on the firing line once more for a political or economic cause?  Are the lives of Russians and Ukrainians so cheap that we can use them as cannon fodder for our own national objectives?  What if our goals and strategies were to help both Russia and the Ukraine find ways to work together more effectively instead of becoming the middleman in a war?

If you think I am making any sense with this blog, I encourage you to share it with others and to send it to any politicians out there who may be willing to listen to reason. 

Sex, Politics and War

sex-and-power

978-0-8223-6367-5_prThere is a war on sex by politicians.  There has always been a war on sex by politicians.  It is the longest running war in the history of the world.  It is not a gender war but a political war.  The goal of political warfare is to alter an opponent’s opinions and actions in favor of the state’s interests without utilizing military power.  Such warfare has been waged by the state against sex since the dawn of humanity.

In the USA, we have had political wars on race, drugs, poverty, crime, and terror.  None of these wars were officially declared as military wars.  Each of these wars were unofficially declared by the US government.   Not one of these wars has ever officially ended.  The war on sex has never been acknowledged either officially or unofficially.  It has never ended either.

417f8ZTuchL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_

This fourth and final part in my series of articles on sex will look at how politics influences sexual activities  in the USA.  In my opening blog on sex, Sex from a 75 year old perspective, I used a metaphor in which I described sex as a continent that had two regions.  The Region of Permissions and the Region of Prohibitions.  There are three seasons for each region:  A Religious Season, a Cultural Season, and a Political Season.  In my second blog on Sex, The Region of Permissions and the Region of Prohibitions, I described the influence of religion on our sex lives in respect to what is permitted and what is prohibited.  In my third blog, The Influence of Culture on Sex, I discussed the Cultural Season of Sex and what impact it has on Permissions and Prohibitions relating to sexual activities.  In this fourth and final blog on sex in America, I will end this set of treatises by talking about the role that politics plays on permissions and prohibitions regarding the sex lives of Americans.

BLOG_SexLib1

The war on sex has been waged for two reasons.  The first is power.  The second is economics.  Each of these reasons has a distinct and differential impact on what Americans may or may not do sexually.  In some cases, the influence is directed towards women.  In other cases, it has been directed towards minorities; and in fewer yet still numerous cases it has been directed towards White men.

Power and Sex:

You have all heard the following comments:  a woman’s role is in the kitchen, keep them barefoot and pregnant, or a woman must be obedient to her husband.  Love, honor and obey is the traditional marriage vows for a woman.  Women have been servants to men since Eve brought the apple to Adam to eat.  Today we are witnessing renewed attacks on a woman’s right to control her own body.  Texas and the US Supreme Court have supported legislation that would effectively gut the right to abortion for a woman in Texas.

8192

The powers behind the “Anti-Abortion” movement hide behind the mantra that all lives are sacred.  That neither religion nor government actually abides by this mantra is easily shown by the hypocrisy of both.  Almost all organized religions in the USA have flocked to support every war that the US has started despite the numerous deaths that each of these wars has entailed.  In most wars since WW II, there is seldom any mention of the deaths of noncombatants on the opposing side.  For instance, recently 13 military personnel were killed by a suicide bomber during the evacuation of Afghanistan.  Few reports mentioned the 130 Afghanis also killed during this attack.  The deaths of our citizens and other citizens are accepted by most organized religions in the US who actively oppose abortion on the grounds that it takes the life of a human being.  The only lives they seem to care about are “unborn.”

HowDareYou-GraphicD-List

The Catholic Church has been one of the most outspoken critics of abortion.  Displaying a gross hypocrisy, they have for centuries ignored the rights of women for contraceptive devices.  Even more egregiously they have ignored the numerous babies murdered since they were born to bishops and cardinals of the Catholic Church.  These children are often born to nuns as well as female parishioners.

In February of 2019, Pope Francis acknowledged a longstanding dirty secret in the Roman Catholic Church — the sexual abuse of nuns by priests…. “These poor women are forced to leave their order and live alone raising their child with no help,” she says. “Sometimes they’re forced to have abortions — paid by the priest because nuns have no money.” — “After Years Of Abuse By Priests, #NunsToo Are Speaking Out.”

6094292e34af8d001859bd5aMen want to control the reproductive rights of women.  It has taken the #metoomovement to start some noticeable changes in attitudes towards the rape and sexual harassment of women.  Politicians are the most notable hypocrites when it comes to the rights of women to determine what is rape and what is not rape.  Ministers do not lag far behind in this hypocrisy.  I could list hundreds of cases of politicians and ministers being outed for sexual harassment of women.  I am sure that you have seen enough of these cases in the news recently.  Nevertheless, male politicians occupy a special zone when it come to their belief that they have an unrequited right to a woman’s body.  Control is power and power is politics.  Sex is war.  Women who want the right to determine how their bodies are used are combatants in this war of sex.

CL4TC547YJHSVGMORBTPIGYUHA

However, woman are not the only combatants in the war of sex.  For decades if not centuries the White Male power structure in the US has waged a war of sex against minorities.  Asians, Blacks, LGBTQ people and Native Americans have all at one time or another faced laws that determined who they could have sex with, when they could have sex and where they could have sex or even if they could have sex.  Some theories equate sexism with racism while others argue that there were economic reasons to oppose unbridled sexuality.

thequint_2020-11_76e3c061-ff13-4bcb-9935-cf087f14542c_2

“As late as the 1950s, almost half of the states had miscegenation laws. While the original statutes were directed wholly against black-white unions, the legislation had extended to unions between whites and Mongolians, Malayans, Mulattos, and Native Americans.  McLaughlin v. Florida was instrumental in paving the way for the 1967 case of Loving v. Commonwealth of Virginia. In that year, sixteen states still had laws that made interracial marriages illegal.” — Laws that Banned Mixed Marriages – May 2010

41V1UJoBQ1L._SX313_BO1,204,203,200_The battleground against mixed marriages and sex between opposing races and ethnic groups has now shifted to the issue of Gay sexuality.  I think the issues surrounding Gay rights clearly support the thesis that power is at the heart of many laws respecting sexuality rather than economics. (Economics does play a role and we will look at this role soon.) At the present time, there are no explicit statewide laws in 27 states to protect LGBTQ people from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in employment, housing and public accommodations. — https://freedomforallamericans.org/states/

The powers that wanted to control sex between race and ethnic groups have clearly lost this battle, but they have not given up the war to control sex in America.  The war has been rejoined in the battle for a woman’s reproductive rights and in the battle for Gay people to have the same rights as Straight people.

prolifeblogpic1 Sex and Economics:

Perhaps the most forceful proponent of the theory that economic reasons were behind the control of sex has been the psychologist Wilhelm Reich.  Europe and the USA have always included some of the most sexually repressed nations on the face of the earth.  Reich saw sexual oppression as being a tool of the ruling class to keep people coming to work on Monday and supporting the needs of the power structure for willing workers.  Reich and many of his supporters believed that true freedom could only come about with a sexual revolution that challenged all restrictive laws against sex.  This would include laws against polygamy, adultery, miscegenation, sodomy, sex before marriage and Gay sex.

Women-dancing-naked-in-a--007

Reich came to the USA from Germany where he had been persecuted for some of his ideas and theories.  When he came to the USA, he found a number of famous and influential people who gravitated to his ideas about sexuality.  The US government was not so enamored with his inventions and ideas.  It began a second persecution which ended up in Reich being sentenced to jail where he died.  Many of his supporters thought he was harassed because of his beliefs in sexual liberation and sexual freedom.  “Ralph Nader in his book, ‘The Chemical Feast’ criticized the FDA for expending an inordinate portion of its limited resources on ‘great quack campaigns’, such as the ‘vicious’ pursuit, carried out with ‘frightening rigor’”, of Reich.”  — Wilhelm Reich: the man who invented free love

460992-sex-lies-politics-0-230-0-345-cropI read Reich’s book “The Function of the Orgasm” while in graduate school.  I was struck by his ideas and the realization of how suppressed sexuality is in our society.  We do not treat it as we would any other normal human need.  Instead, we pass many laws governing what is right and what is not right, and we allow Madison Avenue to shanghai sexuality for the use of manipulating the rest of the country into buying junk and stuff that we do not need.

I can’t say that I ever believed in the inventions that Reich promoted and quite honestly that some of his ideas did strike me as quackery.  However, it is not much of a stretch to believe that Capitalism, Fascism, Communism, and every other economic system needs people who are willing to get out of bed every Monday morning to go to work.  What if we were all truly liberated sexually?  What if it was okay to stay in bed and fornicate rather than go to work?

“You beg for happiness in life, but security is more important to you, even if it costs you your spine or your life. Your life will be good and secure when aliveness will mean more to you than security; love more than money; your freedom more than party line or public opinion; when your thinking will be in harmony with your feelings; when the teachers of your children will be better paid than the politicians, when you will have more respect for the love between man and woman than for a marriage license.”   — Wilhelm Reich

When We Get Back to Normal!

ProgramPageLogo300x300-CraigSchwalb

When we get back to normal.  When everything is like it used to be.  When things are like they were in the good old days.  The good old days when things were normal.  Happy days when father knew best, and bad kids were expelled from school for chewing gum.

But we are not normal now.  We are in a quandary for normal.  We pray for normal.  We look around each corner for normal.  But we cannot find normal.  We talk about the new normal but even that is a myth.  We are now post-normal.  We have never been normal, and we probably will never be normal.

1320_effects-image

First smog in the sixties.  Then water pollution in the seventies.  Globalization in the eighties.  A new century with mega storms, wildfires, water shortages, power outages and unprecedented heat spells.  If normal was not elusive enough, in 2020 we get a virus that to date has killed almost 4 million people worldwide.  A little bug that is about 50 nm in size.  A nanometer is one billionth of a meter.  You could put 20 million corona virus side to side and still have room left over on a yardstick.  Has anybody ever asked a coronavirus when things will return to normal?

Just on the outside chance that we do get back to normal, what will it look like?  A vision please, for without a vision, it is said that people will perish.

women-taking-em-back-to-the-kitchen-vi-cine-center-51302934When we get back to normal, two parent families will again reign supreme.  Mom will stay home to cook, while dad goes to work.  There will be no trans-people.  Girls will stick to cheerleading and let the boys play the sports.  Contraceptives will be banned, and no one will dream of getting an abortion.  Priests and ministers will be male, and gay people will disappear.  Everyone in America will go back to being good Christians.

When we get back to normal, people will die of natural causes like alcoholism and tobacco smoking.  Viruses will become a thing of the past as huge walls setup around our borders will prevent any bugs from infecting Americans.  Health care will be readily available to rich people and make certain that the wealthier you are the longer you will live.  Poor people will do the shitty jobs in America and die earlier since they will not be able to afford quality health care.

When we get back to normal, Black people, Latinos, Native Americans, and Asian/Pacific Island people will be put into their place so that White people can rule again without challenge.  Only White people will be able to hold office.  Police forces will be given more power to dispense arbitrary justice in minority communities thereby ensuring that minorities do not get too uppity.  White people will be allowed to immigrate to the USA but people from other countries will be given strict orders to stay home.

91wbsZa2btL._SL1500_

When we get back to normal, we will double the size of the defense budget and start a war someplace so that we can test our new arsenals out.  We will try to select enemies who are too weak to really put up much fight.  Our military will be the pride of America, and no one will have the audacity to stand up to it.  Drones will eliminate American casualties and reporters will be prohibited from counting enemy dead.

When we get back to normal, schools will be places where children are taught patriotism and how to fit into the workplace.  Colleges will establish quotas limiting the number of minorities who can enter.  Businesses will be given more tax breaks so that the rich can become richer.  We will spread a great deal of propaganda emphasizing the theory of trickle down.  Poor people will be persuaded to be patient until unfathomable wealth eventually comes down to them.

top five risks

When we get back to normal, scientists, Intellectuals, democrats, anti-gun people, liberals, writers, reporters, and teachers espousing critical thinking will be shunned.  Anyone promoting facts and logic over emotions and intuition will be silenced by fines or stiff jail sentences.

WhatIsNormal

I forgot to add that the Ten Commandments, Confederate Flag, and statues of Confederate heroes will be taken out of storage and placed on the lawn of every state capital in the USA.  Laws will be passed to make sure that people stand for the Flag and kneel for the Cross.  Of course, that is if things get back to normal again.

Do you still want things to get back to normal again?

The Seven Greatest Appreciations of Life: Peace

download

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be fearful.” — John 14:27

Peace is perhaps the second most spoken word in the English language as well as the second most misunderstood. 

546ad58cbe260aa3bb2946b2a7c566acA Rabbi, Iman, Pastor and Buddhist Priest were all discussing the issue of peace in the world and in particular peace in the Mideast.  The Rabbi said there could only be peace in the Mideast if all the Muslims left.  The Iman said that there could only be peace if all the Jews left.  The Pastor jumped into the argument and said there would only be peace if all the non-Christians left.  The Buddhist cleared his throat to interrupt the argument and said, “There will never be peace anywhere as long as there are Muslims, Jews, Protestants, Catholics and even Buddhists in the world.” 

Peace is the nexus that links politicians and religious leaders.  Peace drips from the lips of religious leaders and politicians so often that I would be a billionaire if I had a quarter for each time one of them uttered the word peace.  There is a symbiotic relationship between religious leaders and politicians.  We have hundreds of years of racism, greed, sexism, discrimination, and militarism pursued by political leaders and blessed by religious leaders all over the world.  Politicians need religious leaders to sanction their immoral behaviors.  Religious leaders need politicians to foster behaviors that are not endorsed in their official religious teachings.

We have a world that needs peace.  Peace is to the soul as food is to the body.  Peace sustains us spiritually and mentally.  When we think of peace, we think of such phrases as “Peace in the valley.”  “A life of inner peace.”  “Go in peace.”  “Let there be peace between our people.”  “It was a peaceful day.”  “Peace begins with a smile.”  Racism, sexism, greed, discrimination, and militarism all destroy peace.

conflict-art-scroll

Happiness and joy are two of the sought-after states in the world, but neither state can exist without a foundation of peace.  Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God,”: Matthew 5:9.  You would think that those who say they are called to be Priests, Ministers and Pastors in the Christian religion would understand that Jesus expected them to be peacemakers.  Sadly, that seldom seems to be the case.  It is even sadder that the idea of peace is blasphemed by these same people whose vocation is to foster peace.  The concepts of spirituality and peace go hand in hand.  One cannot be a spiritual person and sanction the wanton and needless destruction of life.  Peace is meaningless if it is just a word.  If we really want peace it must be a way of life for all of us.  You cannot preach peace in the pulpit on Sunday and then support racism, sexism, discrimination, greed, and militarism the rest of the week.     

Mens-Peace-guins-Long-Sleeve-Crusher-Tee_70962_1_lgThe peaceful person does not use violence against others.  The peaceful person is a diplomat who solves problems with his/her brain and not with tools of aggression.  The peaceful person is confident because they have integrity.  The peaceful person has serenity because they have no fear.  Fear is the enemy of peace.  When the world is on red-alert, people live in fear.   People become fearful of others and fearful of living.  Racism, sexism, discrimination, greed, and militarism create fear.  With fear, no one can be at peace. 

We can only appreciate peace if we are carriers and messengers of peace.  The person who endorses violence, abuse or discrimination against others can never be at peace because they have no peace in their heart.  Such people live on violence and thrive on aggression.  They reap what they sow.  By sowing death and destruction, they ensure that they will never know peace. 

51qBtOmrIgL._SS500_We should all be grateful for peace.  This means we need to appreciate peace and understand that it cannot be taken for granted.  Peace is up to us to create.  It is too important to leave to religious leaders and politicians.  If we want peace in our lives and peace in the world, we must create it.  There can never be peace for anyone if there is not peace for everyone. 

Think about peace today.  Do you live in a land of peace?  When you get up or go to bed today, do you feel peaceful?  Are you at ease with life or are you anxious, nervous, and fearful?  Do you appreciate what or how peace in your life would feel?  What would it take for your life to be more peaceful?  Do you think the world deserves peace?  If peace is everyone’s responsibility, what will you do to sow peace today? 

Peace starts with living peacefully. 

Mark Twain wrote a short story called the War Prayer.  It has been made into a ten minute video.  It is very moving and something everyone should see.  The link is below:

Killing for Machismo

It was a crime of passion

She took me by the heart when she took me by the hand

Crime of passion

A beautiful woman and a desperate man  —- Ricky Van Shelton

I find it ironic that there are Seven Deadly Sins or vices but they do not include the “Sin of Machismo.”  I would venture to argue that there are more people killed in the world every day because of Machismo than any other cause or problem that you could name.  To not include Machismo in any list of major crimes or sins or vices, is one of the most egregious oversights in history.  Is it because Machismo is a uniquely masculine concept that it has never acquired the degree of condemnation that it merits?  Or is it an example of the “Fish being the last one to see the water.”   Some would argue that it is more likely a blatant example of sexism.   

Men extol Machismo, reward Machismo, give medals for Machismo, High Five Machismo, glorify Machismo, drink toasts to Machismo, pat each other on the back for Machismo, die for Machismo and happily kill each other for Machismo.  A Macho man never cries, never shows pain, never is soft, never loses, never surrenders, never shows fear, never gives quarter, never is remorseful and never ever changes a diaper.  You are not a “Real” man if you don’t have Machismo.  Machismo is the foundation for masculinity in every culture in the world.

Ma·chis·mo

  [mah-cheez-moh, –chiz-, muh-]  

1.  a strong or exaggerated sense of manliness; an assumptive attitude that virility, courage, strength, and entitlement to dominate are attributes or concomitants of masculinity.

2. a strong or exaggerated sense of power or the right to dominate: The military campaign was an exercise in national machismo.

 There are two opposite concepts to Machismo.  You may ask how you can have two opposites.  Well here is a case in which two opposites of a concept exist.   The first opposite to Machismo is “femininity.”  Femininity is soft, warm, supportive, nurturing, accepting, forgiving and the first to change the diapers.  Femininity represents everything that Machismo is not.  No one ever killed another or beat another to death because their “Femininity” was questioned.  We don’t go to war because our “Femininity” was questioned nor do we invade another country to protect our “Femininity.” 

 “Machismo makes no provision for preparing lunch, doing the laundry, or minding the baby.”  — Mason Cooley

The second opposite of Machismo is Gayness.  Gay is not tough.  Gay is “queer.”   A “Real” man is not Gay.  Gay men must be feminine since they cannot be Machismo.  Gay men don’t play football or baseball or soccer or box or join the military since only “Real” Men do these things.  If you are Gay, you can be a hair dresser or actor or flight attendant but you cannot be a police officer, firemen or truck driver since these “Real” men professions require one to be Machismo.  Gays and Machismo are antithetical.

 “The tragedy of machismo is that a man is never quite man enough.” —  Germaine Greer

The number of women that are abused each year by men was the recent focus of a World Health Organization Multi-country Study on Women’s Health and Domestic Violence against Women (2013)Among the findings were the follows:

  • One in 3 women worldwide is a victim of physical or sexual violence, resulting in a global health epidemic, according to a new World Health Organization (WHO) report.
  •  Most of these females are attacked or abused by their boyfriends or husbands. “This is an everyday reality for many, many women,” Charlotte Watts, author of the report and a health policy expert at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said to Reuters.
  • Nearly 38% of all women murder victims were killed by intimate partners, according to the report, which was co-authored by Watts and Claudia Garcia-Moreno of the WHO.
  •  Forty-two percent of females who have experienced physical or sexual violence by a partner suffer injuries, the authors explained.

Common health issues they noted in the study include:

What are the reasons that men kill and abuse women?  Experts identify different reasons for domestic abuse than for murder but the bottom line for both comes down to control and power.

“Most experts say there is no one profile of men who batter or beat women.  Domestic violence crosses all social and economic boundaries.  According to Dr. Susan Hanks, Director of the Family and Violence Institute in Alameda, California, men batter because of internal psychological struggles. Usually, men who batter are seeking a sense of power and control over their partners or their own lives, or because they are tremendously dependent on the woman and are threatened by any moves on her part toward independence.” 

Some reasons given for the abuse by those who study domestic violence include:  jealousy, envy, inferiority, anger, revenge, alcoholism, and simple sadism.  Seldom do you see the issue of Machismo on any of these lists.  However, while there may be different factors precipitating the abuse and violence, without the underlying foundation of Machismo, you would not have the resulting abuse.  Machismo is the “entitlement to dominate.”  If you remove the “entitlement” you remove the abuse and violence.  For instance, if I find my wife going out with another man and I become jealous; it is my “Right to dominate” that gives me the privilege to attack her or the other man.  If I do not believe in a “Right to dominate,” I can divorce my spouse, request counseling, ignore her unfaithfulness, but I will not abuse her. 

Think of all the instances that you read in the paper of stalking, abuse and murder.  In every one of these cases, there is the assumption that is seldom mentioned by psychologists that Machismo gives men the “right to power.”  In fact, not to act on this right is to acquiesce ones maleness.  It is to give up the Machismo that is culturally at the heart of our masculinity.  The strength of this concept of masculinity varies across cultures but few cultures in the world lack the concept of Machismo though it may be called something else:

  • Code of Chivalry
  • Knights Honor
  • Warriors Code

 There is an underlying Machismo in all of these codes that is designed to instill a behavior in a culture which exhorts men to stand up for themselves and their beliefs.  By itself, this would not be bad.  Men must defend their families and countries when necessary.  However, when it comes to defending the more ambiguous elements of honor, reputation, face, dignity, respect and self-esteem, the resort to arms and violence becomes counterproductive.  Solomon Schimmel in “The Seven Deadly Sins” notes that the Sin of Pride led President George Bush to want to humiliate Saddam Hussein while Hussein claimed to be fighting for “Arab dignity.”  How many wars have been fought for national pride or national honor? 

One could make the argument that most if not all wars were not over territory, religion or economics but over national pride.  The Greeks went to war with the Trojans not over Helen but because their masculine pride had been insulted.  Hitler started WWII to avenge Germany’s defeat and loss of face in WWI.  The USA went to war in Vietnam to show the communists that capitalism was more powerful.  Pride is the greatest of all sins identified by religious leaders and philosophers.  However, it is not pride but Machismo which is the trigger to violence and war.  Pride may be the apparent foundation, but Pride by itself does not cause war or violence.  Indeed, a healthy pride mixed with a certain degree of humility is a goal to be pursued by both individuals and nations. 

The danger is that Pride mixed with Machismo creates a volatile concoction which is the source of most violence in the world.  Take any of the Seven Deadly sins: Pride, Envy, Anger, Lust, Gluttony, Greed, and Sloth, mix these with a sense of Machismo and you have the recipe for violence.  Machismo confers the right to act on our impulses and to compel others or dominate others that create our internal conflicts.  Without Machismo, we would have to find other means to dispel the psychological problems that arise in each of us.  Machismo allows us to circumvent any introspection by demanding that our honor be revenged or that our pride be restored.  Machismo demands the duel and the Code Duello specifies the rules for killing. 

“The two men stared at each other. Assumptions were made, judgments rendered, dicks measured.” — Jennifer Estep

Time for Questions:

Can women be Machismo?  What would you be like if you had less Machismo in your character?  Can someone have too little Machismo?  What evil do you see in the world that you would contribute to Machismo?  What positive effects of Machismo do you see?  How can we minimize the negative effects of Machismo? 

Life is just beginning.

Previous Older Entries

%d bloggers like this: