Wednesday, August 31, 2016


Although I hate to move Mr. Kaepernick from the top spot, I thought it might be cool to point to some fiction I wrote - wow - two years ago. Wanted to do this while ---- it's still summer!



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Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Colin's Courageous Sit-down

Greetings!  Anyone out there???

I was pretty stunned to hear of San Francisco  49'ers Quarterback Colin Kaepernick's sit-down protest during the playing of the National Anthem in order to call attention to the ways African-Americans and other minorities are treated here, today, in the U.S.  Certainly courageous in that he has let himself in for criticism for sure.  What I really found troubling is the insistence by some that by not respecting the anthem, Kaepernick was disrespecting the military.  In the article, he makes it clear that he is NOT attacking the military.  I find the idea that we have to fetishize the troops just a bit troubling.. Certainly they make many sacrifices for us, but the more  I learn about some of the abuses and the ill-advised conflicts we enter (or create) I certainly have more mixed feelings.

I was even more stunned when I read the article by Jon Swartz about the controversy in The Intercept.  He writes of Mr. Kaepernick's protest and the National Anthem itself.  I will NEVER think of it in the same way again.  NEVER.  And will never, ever feel the same way about Francis Scott Key again, EVER.

First, one of the keys in Swartz's article is verse 3 of the National Anthem.  WHAT?  Well, I knew there was more than one verse, and having sung choir must have sung at least some of the other ones. This article prompted me to look in my copy of the 1940 Episcopal Hymnal.  What do you know?  The first verse and the last verses only were there, as also seems to be the case when I checked out a newer version of the hymnal online.  Swartz has a link in the article to a page containing all the verses.  The disastrous passage:   “No refuge could save the hireling and slave / From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave,” he [ Key] was taking great satisfaction in the death of slaves who’d freed themselves.   In the article, Swartz explains the background of this in the context of the events of the War of 1812.

Then there was Key himself.  I knew he was a slave holder, but ---- read how he was indignant that a newspaper printed an article condemning the way an abolitionist newspaper decried how an African-American woman was treated by police.

In his conclusion, Swartz asks if that context is all just ancient history or maybe we might need a new National Anthem.  Your thoughts?

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Thursday, August 25, 2016

Wealth Inequality - it's Real! (Updated!)

Greetings again. I saw a headline about the recently-released Congressional Budget Office report in the site I use as my home page, But I haven't seen too many other online stories about it (shouldn't be surprising, I guess).  CNN Money had the first other report I found, and the Washington Post has one (but they're behind a paywall :-(   There are some other articles, but some of the sources didn't sound as though I wanted articles by that outlet, so I'm going here with the CNN article.  The facts, yes, facts, that it lays out are pretty striking and in some ways quite stark.

The article seems to do a very good job of highlighting the results about wealth inequality, but beware of the autoplay video.  You can read the article here .

Key reveals:

  • the top 10% of families had 76% of the total wealth in 2013
  • the bottom 50% held only 1% of the total wealth
  • the top 10% of families saw their share of the wealth grow from around 2/3 to the just over 3/4 reported above, during the period from 1989 - 2013.  Can you now guess what happened to the share of the 'bottom'  90% during the same period?

And now here's another infuriating report - this time at The Intercept.  Check out: 
20 Years Later, Poverty Is Up... 
 Some statistics to consider:
  • Researchers Luke Shaefer and Kathryn Edin estimate that "1.5 million American households, including 3 million children, are today living at or below extreme poverty – double the number that it was in 1996."
  • 5.5 percent of American households — 6.7 million households in all — used a food bank or some other form of food charity in 2014. That’s the highest percentage since record-keeping on the matter began in 1995.
 We need to look around and ask some very tough questions about why this is so.  We need to look for ways to address the problems and open the economy and give folks more of a chance to rise.

  • We need to ask why big money is dominating politics and policy making, why reform hasn't happened, and how can we best make changes.

  • We need to look at reforming our tax structure so that the wealthy and corporations pay their share.  I guess everyone has forgotten the Panama Papers already.
  • We need to look at how we invest our resources.  Why do we spend so much on things such as drones, guns, and bombs instead of say,  supporting education.  Seems like a no-brainer to me.  Guns, drones and bombs just bring destruction, but investing in education would enable more citizens to become better able to make it in this economy, pay taxes and make positive contributions.

  • We need to make sure workers are getting LIVING wages.  Minimum wages need to keep up!

  • Related to the previous thought, we need to look at strengthening labor unions and increasing union membership.  It has been shown that unions not only help the members, but nonmembers as well!  Read this study by Cashman and Butcher . And this article from the Center for American Progress Action Fund  as well!

  •  We need to ask why the media hardly covers issues of poverty, wealth and economic inequality, and food insecurity and demand media outlets do better.
Here's a new report from Economic Policy Institute on how the declning strength of unions hurts us all. 
Any further ideas?  Please share in comments!
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Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Turn Back...

Greetings.  Again I have to ask, is anyone there?  Anyone???

Today, in thinking over some recent news reports, my late Mother's favorite hymn came to my mind.  It was the Episcopal hymn whose first line is (or at least was in the 1940  Hymnal version): "Turn back, O man, forswear thy foolish ways."  Some of the 1940 version language may be a bit dated, but the yearning for a better, more peaceful world the hymn expresses is certainly right on time.

Right on time, because we have a certain nutjob Presidential candidate who just made a veiled threat against his rival (if anyone hasn't seen or heard of this, or doesn't believe it, let me know and I can post a link).  No matter that even if not meant seriously, some real psycho might just get the wrong  idea.  THEN, we have a former acting CIA chief who wants more killing in Syria.  And word has come there have been very recent air strikes that killed children in Yemen.

Turn back folks, indeed.  If we don't stop hurting and killing each other, who will be left?  We have domestic violence, street violence, random violence, terrorism, bombings and drone strikes, and wars (declared or undeclared, I can't seem to keep up, sadly).  Our entertainment is also sometimes way too violent. Take video games and movies, for example.  Sometimes just the commercials on tv for them give a large enough dose of violence to least for a week!  And don't be fooled into thinking that such images have no effect on us. In a previous post, I included a link to some research and thoughts about the effects of violent media on us.

We need to find a better path.  Desperately so. Think with me:

"Man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love."

"Have we not come to such an impasse in the modern world that we must love our enemies - or else? The chain reaction of evil - hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars - must be broken, or else we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation."

----- both from Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

“If you want to end the war then Instead of sending guns, send books. Instead of sending tanks, send pens. Instead of sending soldiers, send teachers.”    - Malala Yousafzai

“To replace the old paradigm of war with a new paradigm of waging peace, we must be pioneers who can push the boundaries of human understanding.  We must be doctors who can cure the virus of violence.  We must be soldiers of peace who can do more than preach to the choir.  And we must be artists who will make the world our masterpiece.”  - Paul Chappell

“Peace does not mean an absence of conflicts; differences will always be there. Peace means solving these differences through peaceful means; through dialogue, education, knowledge; and through humane ways.” -   His Holiness, the Fourteenth Dalai Lama

Think, then act!  DO SOMETHING!!!  At the very least, each of us can pray for peace or send peace vibes in accordance with our spirituality.  We can support or develop peacemaking and conflict resolution initiatives. We can support those who are in the trenches working for peace initiatives.  We can let policy makers and media shakers know we DEMAND more peaceful initiatives.  We need to keep our efforts going.  The future of our families, our neighborhoods, our countries - and our planet - is at stake. 

To come full circle, the ending line of Mom's favorite hymn (1940 version) is: " Earth shall be fair and all her folk be one."  I have a feeling Mom would agree that is something we should all be working toward.  Isn't it time we stopped hurting and killing each other and set our feet toward that goal?

Related Posts: click on 'peace' in the tag cloud on the right to view posts labeled 'peace.'

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Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Persistence/Long Time Gone

Greetings!  Anyone There???

Well, I know I watch too much tv.  One show I often enjoy is "Mysteries at the Museum".  I particularly favor the stories of folks who are working to help people or working for a cause and DO NOT GIVE UP in the face of obstacles.  They had the story of a doctor who persisted in getting health care workers to wash hands and the one-time Mayor of Detroit, Mr. Pingree, who persisted in wanting to establish community gardens, even to the point of selling his beloved horse to raise funds for the cause.  The latest installment was very good, especially the story of Elizabeth Jennings Graham, who, 100 years before Rosa Parks, fought segregation in New York City.  You can read her Wikipedia entry .  Of special interest (to me, anyway) was the emphasis her Mother placed on education, especially for women!  

Also there was the National Geographic/ PBS mini-series, "The Greeks".  It was on before and I really paid no mind to it.  However, I managed to catch parts of the first installment when it was rerun recently and decided to definitely watch the second two. I've been stressed out lately due to the very ugly political climate.  One feature of this well-done series that drew me in was the eerie similarities drawn between some of these Ancient events and today's headlines.  I certainly hope we can escape another "Dark Age" or a Draconian period.  Still, seeing how the Greeks made it through the Dark Age into their Golden Age was certainly a pinprick of hope.  It was also intriguing that even though their Golden Age didn't last, the ideas and ideals spread, first by Philip of Macedon and son, Alexander the Great; then by the Romans.  Hard to believe that Christianity almost snuffed out their achievements but it was good to know that they were rediscovered during the Renaissance and The Enlightenment.  I suppose most of us learn this in college, no? But a refresher and seeing the parallels with today was really something.

A new report also told us that a 'coalition' of many organizations most dedicated to causes related to African-Americans' concerns has released a platform of demands for reform - real, systemic reform.  This is the kind of thing we need -to push together to make progress.  You can read the platform and info here !  When I scanned through them, I was struck that many, many of the demands would or could work to better conditions for EVERYONE.  A couple of examples of that would be supporting the right of workers to unionize and ending the control of money over politics.  So I would advocate EVERYONE to read and think about them.  Yes, many are targeted toward African-Americans and people of color, but just remember, whatever affects "A" today may just affect YOU tomorrow; so uniting might just be a good thing.

So, somehow, I, we, have got to "keep on keeping on."  Music always helps, doesn't it?  For some reason, a song from Crosby, Stills, and Nash, "Long Time Gone" popped into my head recently.  Lyrics are here;  and the story of David Crosby writing it is here.    Especially love the lyrics which echo an old proverb:  "The darkest hour is always / Always just before the dawn"  It seems to me the song is saying --- even though it may be a long time coming, DON'T STOP looking for the dawn.  Guess the Greeks didn't; the Abolitionists, Suffragists, and Civil Rights Activists didn't.  Hope we don't stop looking, either.

And, oh yes, the song!                       Long Time Gone

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