Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Cause and Effect

It's utterly disingenuous to condemn the results without, at the same time, and above all, looking at the causes.

That's no different than giving a pain pill for a swollen foot rather than finding and removing the splinter.

Cause and effect.

Concerned about the effect?

Damnit, address the cause.

But let's not do that.

The effect is all about you!!!!

You and your behavior.

Your bad ways.

The cause, on the other hand.

Might just be about me.

My behavior.

My bad ways.

Oh oh, let's not go there.

Let me condemn the effects.

While ignoring the cause.

It's much easier that way for me.

I sleep better in my ignorance.

Don't you?

Unless my ignorance is cause.

And you suffer the effect.

Of what I have caused.

Oh, let's not go there.

I'd be a lot happier.

Okay?

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The NFL and Domestic Abuse

Glad to see the NFL, hesitantly, put the brakes on domestic abusers. But, let's tell some truth here this morning.

Football becomes the dream of thousands of kids abandoned on America's Mean Streets. Some become standouts in elementary school, and then hit the Friday Night Lights, and everyone goes crazy about the kid who can throw the ball, who can tackle and send the other kid to the bench, who can run like mad and score, again and again. We lionize them, treat them like royalty, ease them through school, including college, pamper them, get them cars, a little extra cash in the pocket, take care of parking tickets, get them outta scrapes, make 'em heroes ... and then make them stars with the NLF draft, pay them huge sums of money, dazzle them with a wealth they've never known.

And, meanwhile, all along the way, everyone has pretty much ignored their dysfunctional behavior, just as long as they can put out and make us all "winners."

But what with social media and the mood of the nation, it seems that public interest is no longer willing to turn a blind eye to their mistreatment of women, to their abusive behavior and anger.

Slugging a woman in the elevator, knocking her cold, and dragging her out into the hallway like a sack of potatoes is NOT acceptable behavior, for anyone, including an NFL star ... and by then, it's likely too late to do much about the personality, the character, that's already been shaped by America's Mean Streets and the thrill of stardom.

If there's anything in our story right now that reveals the broken heart of American Life, it just may be the NFL story ... the expendables, the temporary heroes of Sunday Afternoon and Monday Night Football. Kids, that's all they are, and then young men who still behave like kids, and we wonder why.

So, let's remind ourselves that the scores are far less important than the players; that the young men we treat as gladiators are real people in need of help, that the women they marry are often in danger, paying a terribly high price for their own desires to find the good life, if not on their own, at least on the arm of an NFL star.

Hats off to the uncertain steps of the NFL, and hats off to the colleges and high schools who are attending to the social and psychological needs of these young men, who pay attention to something more than stats and money.

Hats off to anyone who sees them, not just as football players to thrill us with the great play, but young men often alone, angry, broken and sad. In need of serious help, not just to be used and then discarded when they can no longer play.

We can make a difference with them, with all of America's children, by cleaning up the Mean Streets, retooling our schools, and reminding ourselves on Sunday Afternoon and whenever else we watch football - it's not just about us and our entertainment; it's also about all those young men who play the game, and it's about their families, too.

More about them than us.

Strange idea, I know.

But maybe it's the truth.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Social Security: How I Choose It!

January 27, 1970, ordained by the Grand River Presbytery (now, Lake Michigan), in the First Presbyterian Church of Holland, MI ... and from there, back to the West Virginia Mountain Project and two of its churches, Camp Creek and Ridgeview, where I had begun January 1.

My wife and I ... newly minted.

With a choice to make,

A choice granted to the newly minted,

Ministers of the Gospel, or something like that.

To continue in SS, if already in.

Or, if already in, resign.

If not, sign up.

A choice.

That could not be undone.

We choose Social Security.

I received my first SS Card when I was 14, working for my father, at the Milwaukee Cheese Company, where else, Milwaukee.

D (she was already in SS, too) and we thought:

"On our meager salary, how would we invest?"

"Given what we didn't know, about just about everything money-wise, how would we decide?"

Neither of our families were wealthy.

Nor invested.

Just hard working. Comfortable, but that's all.

So, we decided, on SS.

"It was the American thing to do," we thought. To play our part, stand with working Americans, and assure ourselves something for retirement. For us, it was the right thing, something good for the country, even patriotic. We felt good about it. We felt right.

And so it was ... for the rest of our working lives.

That's how I came to be in SS.

I have only gratitude about it ... it was right then, and it's still right.

Thank God for SS, and FDR who put it together, before we showed up.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

America Has Chosen Selfishness

America has chosen selfishness.

That is, to begin and end with the self as the primordial measure of life.

It goes like this:

"I've got mine, too bad for you."
If you'd like to have what I have,
you'll have to work as hard as I
work. Nothing for free.
So, get out there and work.
Just like me."

With a slightly religious cast:

"I've got mine, too bad for you."
If you'd like to have what I have,
you'll have to worship the God
I worship. Nothing for free. So,
get right with my god.
Just like me."

For the secular conservative, it's no problem centering in on the self.

For the christian conservative, it's requires a little more work.

First of all, most of the Synoptic Gospels has to be set aside, with a very selective reading of John.

And, then, a selective isolation of verses has to be assembled, from Paul, the Psalms, Samuel and Kings and some from the minor prophets and, of course, everyone's favorite, Revelation.

All of this aided and abetted by clever politicians and skilled preachers who know how to follow the money ... and millions of Americans who would rather follow the money, in spite of the fact that they'll never find it, and under conservative governance, the chances of finding it will diminish all the more, even as the hope for finding it increases.

A very strange equation.

America has chosen selfishness.


Monday, November 3, 2014

Global Warming

The earth has experienced endless cycles of warming and cooling throughout its existence, and will continue to do so, often resulting in dramatic changes, with species dying off and the face of the earth dramatically changed.

So, what's new in this mix?

Our best scientists, and their number is legion, warn us clearly that the interface of our technology and climate change is real, that human activity contributes to the warming cycle, and the results could be cataclysmic for our children and grandchildren.

No one knows for sure, of course.

No more than anyone knows when the next big earthquake will hit Southern California or the where and when the next hurricane will strike the Louisiana coast.

But probability is high on all of this - if not sooner, then later.

The vested industrial interests, of course, want to turn a blind eye to this, so frightened they are of anything that challenges their status quo and their presents methods of making money. Sadly, corporate interests are slaves to a tyrant that brooks no competition and demands total obeisance.

Yes, global warming is likely part of an on-going cycle, but if our technology is accelerating it, worsening it, then we should know this.

Even if we don't have all the facts, it's foolish to suggest that thousands of scientists, working together and independently and coming to the same conclusion, are all wrong.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Charter Schools and Their Promises

Take a leisurely stroll through the history of American enterprises that have come and gone, that started out with high hopes only to crash and burn on bad management, under capitalization and changing times, one quickly realizes that private effort is as susceptible to all the faults and failings that plague the public sector. 

Private enterprise offers no solid guarantees on success. So, let's not have a silly love-affair with Charter Schools, as if they could do no wrong, as if "privatizing" public education is the cure-all for every problem. It's just not true, in spite of the jingoism of Wall Street Devotees and those who hate all things public. 



The same standards that others have applied to public education must be applied, now, forcefully, to Charter Schools. If they're failing, find out why. Try to fix it, of course. But let's not be afraid to cancel the charter - either going back to the public system, or granting the charter to another corporation. After all, isn't that the American Way? 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Boehner's Ceaseless Lies



These are the kinds of lies always 
told by the wealthy to America.

The Roosevelts: An Intimate History, members of the "ruling class" were wise enough to know just how terrible these lies are, and that's why they "betrayed their own class"- a class of liars and deceivers, driven by greed, and the enormous fear that some might gain at their expense.
I wish I could take John Boehner on an LA bus for a day - let him really see people, how hard they work, bone-tired and poorly paid too often, hoping and dreaming, being good citizens. To drive Vermont and other great streets to see the hustle and the bustle of mom and pop shops, street vendors and folks working hard to make a dime.
Yes, there are some who need help, and who will always need help. Is this so hard for us to understand? Is the need for kindness, mercy, compassion, so galling to us that we cannot muster the will to be generous? What's wrong with this man, and his handlers? What's wrong with the ruling class?
Shame on Speaker John Boehner for such lies ... shame on the ruling class for spouting this unpardonable sin, that of darkening our counsel, muddying the waters, and casting aspersions on millions of decent people.
We can do better. We have done better, and by God's grace, we may again do better. Throw these liars out of office, and put firm leashes back on the ruling class, lest they run us all, like lemmings, off the cliff to certain death.