Category: World Events

“Can’t We All Just Get Along?”

2004 vacation 095It is increasingly evident that the American people are becoming disenchanted with our political system and politics in general. I’ve heard from many people who are equally disappointed with both of the major parties yet recognize that third party candidates accomplish nothing more than remove votes from one of the two major monopolies… I mean parties.

There seems to be more concern for the the party than for the good of the American people. There also seems to be greater effort among politicians in maintaining a “job” than achieving progress in the governing process.

Each party and the candidates therein appear to do little more than disparage opponents with acerbic rhetoric, half-truths and out right lies.

What concerns me the most is that the parties and candidates and delegates seem to be mired in a culture of mean-spirited hostility and are either unable or unwilling to make drastic changes to a system that is honest, respectful and bi-partisan. They drank either red Kool-Aid or blue-Kool-Aid and they are thus inextricably fused to their party platforms.

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There is a reason that we have different political parties; we have different opinions and values but just “hocking phlegm-balls” all over people who disagree with us or who embrace different priorities conflicts with the purpose of a democratic republic where everyone has a voice, everyone’s opinions are valued and considered and where solutions for the common good of ALL citizens is the supreme priority. It’s as if we are trapped on George Jetson’s conveyor belt, unable to get off and all I want to do is cry out, “Jane, stop this crazy thing!”

I was inspired to write this post because in one day, two different people voiced there independent frustrations on Facebook both saying essentially the same thing, we are tired of childish rants and raves by idiotic politicians who only do what serves and suits them with no respect for the needs, feelings or opinions of others.

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“In Support of Gun Control”

2004 vacation 095As a moderate conservative, I am not going to make many friends with the insight shared in this post but I can’t ignore the information.

The following is the transcript of a recent conversation I had regarding gun control with my friend, Tom who is a British national.

Tom:   Following the school shooting in Scotland in 1996 a law was passed prohibiting private ownership of handguns throughout the United Kingdom.

Me:      How many school shootings have there been in the UK since that law was implemented?

Tom:   None.

I really like Tom; he is a fine upstanding young man. However, I have been around long enough to know that one should check facts before going public. Here is what I found.

On March 13, 1996 Thomas Watt Hamilton killed 16 students and one teacher at Dunblane Primary School in Dunblane, Scotland. 10 others were also wounded in the attack before Hamilton took his own life.

Following this tragedy public outcry resulted in the implementation of the Firearms Act of 1997 (Amendment No. 2) that prohibits private ownership of handguns with the exception of muzzle loaded and historic handguns. In the 17 years since the implementation of the Firearms Act of 1997 in the United Kingdom there have been no school shootings in that nation.

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Meanwhile, since 1996 there have been 64 school shootings within the United States.

I love America and support the constitution and the right to bear arms. I also support the right of parents and students to rest easy with some assurance of their safety.

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Read more: Timeline of Worldwide School Shootings | Infoplease.com http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0777958.html#ixzz3KftuUivP

My Kingdom for Non-Biased News!

2004 vacation 095While recent videos depicting Muslim Street Patrols attempting to enforce Sharia Law in East London, UK disturbed me I decided that it would be prudent to investigate further before forming an opinion.

The threat of a movement bent on imposing Sharia Law in western nations, particularly the UK and the US appears to be real but to what degree? The majority of Muslims living in the west seem to be peaceful people who enjoy the freedom of religion guaranteed by the US Constitution and the British Human Rights Act. In my experience they are willing to live by the law of the land and accept the rights of others to worship according to their own beliefs and traditions.

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The more I researched, the more I discovered that completely unbiased information on this issue is about as common as the proverbial needle in the haystack. Conservatives highlight instances within the US involving court cases that factor in Sharia Law when the litigants are Muslim and from Islamic nations. Liberals are quick to downplay the same instances as anomalies and nothing more than fuel to feed the fires of unwarranted fear.

Further investigation begged questions as to whether or not such decisions have contradicted US law or not. Navigating the complexities of Constitutional Law is a daunting task, as provisions exist allowing for the enforcement of contracts and obligations established in other nations according to foreign laws.

Attempts in some states – most notably Alabama and Oklahoma – to implement state constitutional amendments prohibiting any foreign law to be factored into US court cases have produced a confusing quagmire of complexity that could actually conflict with the US Constitution.

Any aspect of Sharia Law that conflicts with the US Constitution should not be considered regardless of whom the litigants or defendants might be. If I were arrested in Iran for violating Iranian (Sharia) law what is the likelihood that I would be afforded a trial based on US Law?

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Groups advocating the implementation of Sharia Law in the west are small. However, as I considered that fact, I remembered a question I asked my mom and dad when I was young. My parents were young adults in the late 1930’s and early 1940’s so I asked them what they had thought of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi’s before the invasions of Europe and Africa began.

They’re response was telling.  “We thought that he was a funny little man with a funny mustache on the other side of the ocean and that the brown-shirts were insignificant gangs of street thugs.”

Everyone should be free to sleep at night – even if it is with one eye open. If someone, anyone would provide an accurate and comprehensive assessment of this complicated issue then perhaps we could sleep with both eyes closed.

 

“Fear of Missionary Doctors”

 

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Among the criticisms levied against Christians is our perceived hypocrisy and apparent lack of love for those not within our fold. Yet a recent article illustrates that when Christians observe the universally respected teachings and tenets of Jesus, we are still to be scrutinized.

The article written by self-acknowledged atheist, Brian Palmer questions the motives and quality of missionary doctors in West Africa. His position implies that Christians are a potential threat even when we are living out the love of Jesus.

The article asks, “Should we worry that so many of the doctors treating Ebola in Africa are missionaries?” The focus falls on the following concerns…

First, religious proselytizing may interfere with the focus of providing medical attention.

Second, there is a perceived lack of accountability to any oversight organization such as the World Health Organization (WHO), Center for Disease Control (CDC) or any local government organization within the nations where care is provided.

Interestingly, the organization that provides the lion’s share of care is Doctors Without Borders or MSF, the French acronym by which they are known. MSF is not a religious organization but a humanitarian group founded in 1971 in an effort to provide basic health care to individuals in desperate need. The fact that some of their volunteers are Christians has nothing to do with the group’s mission or vision. It is however, representative of the number of trained medical personnel who are followers of Jesus and are dedicated to his charge to help those in need.

Regarding oversight, if the missionaries are doing sub-par or even dangerous work, in other words if local nationals are receiving poor health care, if their incidences of illness are increasing or if their overall health is worse than when medical workers are not providing care, would they not refuse care and perhaps ride the missionaries out of their land on a rail?

In Palmer’s defense, he does acknowledge that the USA exports commercialism to developing nations and there is no “push back” for doing so.

The purpose of my blog is to initiate and maintain respectful dialogue between people of varying faiths or no faith. There are times when the absurdity of a situation moves me to speak in defense of our faith community. I empathize with the frustration of those who have experienced negative encounters with people of faith and / or their representative churches or organizations. But when God’s people live out what is expected of them by God and man and they are still criticized then a response is merited.

We don’t demand that anyone believe what we believe or even join our ranks. On the contrary, it is no benefit to anyone if individuals are coerced into following Jesus. We are striving to focus less on the  angry rhetoric of morality control in order to present by example and by word the love and teachings of Jesus.

“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”.

To read subject article click on the following link http://t.co/NtrtY7E2dN

 

“My Heinous Insensitivity”

2004 vacation 095In light of the ongoing events in Ferguson, MO I am compelled to share what I consider to be arguably the most shameful act that I ever committed.  Although I performed this act over 35 years ago, my insensitivity still haunts me.  Because my actions were so reprehensible until now I have shared this with only a few people.

My dad went to great lengths to insure that I understood that racial prejudice was unacceptable under any circumstance.  I accepted his teaching and his spirit.   Growing up in lily-white Orange County, CA during the 60’s and 70’s I was not adequately prepared for the realities of multi-cultural life.  Of the 2,000 students who attended my high school less than 100 would have been identified as ethnic minorities.  As was common in those days, racial jokes and stereotypes abounded.person-ran-through-smoke-after-police-launched-tear-gas

None of this excuses my actions of October 31, 1978. In an ill-conceived attempt at humor I dressed myself for a Halloween party as a stereotypical “black man.”  I covered my skin with “creole” makeup and tucked my straight auburn hair into a ski cap.  I donned clothing in keeping with the stereotype.  But it was my choice of accessories that best illustrated by ignorant insensitivity.  In one hand I carried a basketball and in the other an empty box from a fried chicken food chain.

The Lesson

Before the party I entered a Huntington Beach liquor store.  While I searched the store for snacks to take to the party I noticed that the proprietor was watching me intently.  I smiled to myself confident that he was duly impressed by my costume.  When I arrived at the check-out counter the proprietor recognized my farce and in stunned awareness exclaimed, “You’re white!”

I was proud of the quality of my masquerade.  As I left the store however, I was kicked in the teeth by a revelation. The storeowner hadn’t been watching me out of admiration for my costume; his diligent scrutiny was based on an assumption that I was black.  This wasn’t about a Halloween costume; this is the sort of treatment common toward African Americans every day in our nation.

I was cut to the quick with shame.  This was not, or so I thought, the kind of person that I was and it was definitely not the kind of person I wanted to be.  That lesson has both haunted me and been a constant reminder that with all of the effort directed at bringing an end to racism the problem continues.

News footage from Ferguson produces chilling reminders of the urban race riots of the 1960’s that, as a child I watched on television from the safety of my suburban Orange County home; trying to understand the reason for the violence.

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There have been significant improvements in race relations over the years, a rather hollow assessment from a white man but we still have a long way to go; on all sides of the ethnic discussion.

“We Need A New Anthem!”

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(Please respond to the brief polls at the end of this post.) 

In light of tomorrow’s Independence Day celebrations and after listening to several national anthems during the 2014 World Cup my resolve to see our national anthem replaced has been galvanized.  The “Star Spangled Banner” is one of the worst national anthems in the world.  It is a narrative of an obscure battle fought in a relatively obscure war that praises a flag rather than a nation.  Moreover, it is difficult to sing.  We need a new song!

We need an anthem that celebrates the diverse beauty and splendor of our country and affirms our present and future hope.

Permit me to make some comparisons with other anthems.  The Russian national anthem is musically moving and portrays the beauty and immensity of that vast nation while petitioning for divine blessing and favor.

Even the musically martial “Song of Germany” promotes hope and encouragement for the German people citing positive German attributes –  “German women, German loyalty, German wine and German song”.   It also sounds a call for unity, justice and freedom.

“Oh Canada” is arguably the best national anthem on the planet boldly praising everything that is good and unique about the Great White North while proclaiming national devotion and it achieves this with musical appeal.

“The Star Spangled Banner” derives its wartime lyrics from a poem written in 1814 by an amateur poet after witnessing a battle against the British.  Ironically, it was an English composer who wrote the music and somehow the song became our national anthem in 1931.

Please people; do we really want our global identity to be distinguished for winning a relatively insignificant battle?  Are the words “bombs bursting in air” what we want sung in front of the rest of the world when our Olympic gold medalists stand proudly on a pedestal?  Is the line “rockets red glare” really an appropriate precursor to the celebrated cry to “Play Ball”?

In America, we enjoy a selection of songs from which a more appropriate anthem can be chosen including “America The Beautiful” and “God Bless America”.  “My Country ‘Tis of Thee” would serve as an acceptable replacement except for sharing a musical score with “God Save The Queen”, the National Anthem of England.

In any case, our current anthem is severely wanting and a change is long overdue.  Let us introduce a new anthem for our beloved United States of America.

In future posts I will address the case in favor of  “America the Beautiful” and “God Bless America”.  This campaign will be a long process but “The Star Spangled Banner” is a lousy national anthem and, since our national repertoire includes significantly more suitable songs, let us employ one of them.

Whether or not you agree, please share this with others on your list… whatever that list might be.