Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Touchstones of Truths, Part II

This is Part II of a special three part series. 

Greetings once again.  Welcome to Part II of Touchstones of Truths

In Part I, we set the stage by acknowledging that seeking Truth was a lifelong journey and no one human being really apprehends the "whole truth."  Nevertheless, there are some observations of truths, I have glimpsed and am putting forth here.  We considered our first touchstone: "Hey, We're All Human." Today we will look at another touchstone.

Things Are Not Always Mutually Exclusive

I never enjoy those forced choice questions (‘Are you ice cream or cake?’)  Maybe both. Maybe ice cream one day and cake another.  And by the way, you forgot about pie!

I think first here of faith and science.  I suppose the main reason is that my late parents were great people of faith, but still were never afraid of nor rejected science.  Both had keen intellects and Mom, an elementary teacher, could be particularly succinct at times.  I remember as a grade schooler one day I complained about science class.  Her reply was (as nearly as I can remember): “Why? Science is just the world around you.”  Talk about reducing concepts to their essences!  So their examples may have influenced me not to reject either.

Further, not to get too personal, but throughout my life there have been some coincidences which I believe showed that there’s lots we still don’t understand nor can fully explain; something more. It’s also comforting to know I’m not alone in finding that faith and science are not mutually exclusive (full disclosure – I just happen to be Episcopalian).  I’ll take my cake with ice cream, thank you very much.

We’ve seen over time that barriers in many areas have been broken and this work is still continuing.  We’ve seen struggles to defy gender, racial, religious, gender preference/identity stereotypes. This is a struggle to not let surface characteristics preclude choices and aspirations; to break mutual exclusivity.

Breaking the idea that certain factors may be mutually exclusive can possibly help solve problems as well.  Some may think that concern for the environment and concern for jobs may be mutually exclusive or at least somewhat at odds.  However, in this article  (which I also linked to in another post), research is mentioned that is showing that, at least long-term, this is probably not the case.

Tomorrow: Third touchstone and conclusion

And remember, if you find this post or any post here of value, please comment and/or share.  Thanks!

Monday, January 30, 2017

Touchstones of Truths, Part I

First in a three-part series.

Greetings, Readers... I hope!  This will begin a special series, so come along for the ride!

Truth is something humanity has been attempting to perceive throughout history. Facts, let alone any greater Truths, in an age of spin, digital doctoring, and fake news can be difficult to trace.  It is a concept, an abstraction, and an objective to seek in both public and private life. Consider this thought of Sir William Osler, who was a Canadian physician.  He wrote: “No human being is constituted to know the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth; and even the best of men must be content with fragments, with partial glimpses, never the full fruition.”     Emily Dickinson once said it was a ‘rare thing.’  In the song No More Lies, written by Justin Hayward, The Moody Blues sang of Truth as addiction and “in all its glory.”  John Keats in Ode on a Grecian Urn wrote: “Beauty is truth, truth beauty…”.  Jesus Himself in John 8:32 (KJV) told his Disciples:  “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”  Yet, here we are in 2017, still trying to seek and understand what we can only partially apprehend.  Certainly this search is a lifelong journey. However, in this three part series, I wish to propose some touchstones of truths I have observed for consideration.

Hey, We’re All Human

Should we really have to go over this again and again?  Rather than pore over statistics on things such as hate crimes, think about the fact that the W. K. Kellogg Foundation sponsored a National Day of Racial Healing on January 17, 2017.   Events were held in communities across the country.  The advance PR for this cited the recent divisiveness of the election for bringing racial wounds front and center.  Dr. Gale C. Christopher, a Foundation senior advisor, wrote that “racism is rooted in the false belief in a human hierarchy (emphasis mine).”    Or consider the fact that in Arizona, a bill was proposed which would target social justice programs and events in schools. It seems the bill itself will not be advancing, but all must keep vigilant to ward off such short-sightedness.  There are overviews here and hereLate word can be read here.

It seems some folks still haven’t gotten the memos. Why isn’t learning about each other a joy?  What exactly is so threatening about diverse folks coming together?   One of those memos, the poem Human Family, brilliantly written by the outstanding Maya Angelou, was featured in a recent television commercial.

We need to realize that racism, institutionalized racism and yes, segregation are all real.  For example, there are studies that show schools are more segregated then before Brown v Board of Education and this separation is also tied to class and poverty.  You can read an overview of the GAO studyThe UCLA Civil Rights Project also did a study.  That one found that the average African American or Hispanic student’s school was approximately 67% low income, while for the average white student the figure was approximately 40%.  Housing also often tends to be segregated.  Doesn’t worship also tend to be segregated?  When is the last time you (or I) attended any interfaith worship service?  Even among Christians , worship tends to be segregated!  Although this may not seem to be related, in case anyone has noticed, there has been a trend toward privatization of public spaces , here in the U. S. and elsewhere.

What does all of that mean?  It means we often don’t know folks who are different from ourselves.  It means we need to find ways of coming together.  Recent actions by progressives have shown both the joys and challenges this entails.  We need to reach out to a diversity of people in our communities.  Inclusive public events, inter-parish and interfaith worship services, community projects that attract a variety of volunteers, can help us along in the agenda of getting to know one another, engaging in dialogues, and beginning to really work together for real progress.

Tomorrow: another touchstone 

Please also remember if you find this or any post here of value:  comment and/or share!  Thanks!

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Stand For Refugees

Greetings to whomever.  Come out, come out, wherever you are.  Let us know you're there!

This short-sighted administration is now detaining refugees.  I see there have already been protests and I do believe more are planned. A lawsuit  by CAIR is also being planned.

This unjust discrimination and total disregard for the human beings whose lives they're disrupting is sickening.  I think they also forgot something.  We are a nation of immigrants.  Some time ago, back in 2015, when there was controversy over allowing in Syrian refugees, I penned the following poem.  Looks as though it needs to be read again.  What is the old saying.. "the more things change...?"

So here it is, along with an image of the lady who Sen. Schumer said now has tears running down her cheeks.

Reminder Needed

We forget that we are a country of immigrants
That many hands of diverse ancestry built this country
And continue to do so
It seems we forget when someone whispers, "The terrorists are coming."

We forget things such as "Chinese Exclusion",  
The stain of Japanese incarceration,
Those against admitting Jewish refugees from the Holocaust
Have we not learned from our history?
But it seems we forget if someone intones, "The terror threat is high."

We forget that we face risks everyday
We forget that liberty should not be sacrificed for security
But it seems civil liberties and even common sense
Seem to be discarded if someone pronounces, "We just want to keep you safe."

We forget, but there's a certain statue in New York harbor
Which should be a reminder to us
She stands as a token of friendship and a beacon of liberty
So will we stand with her?

Oh, if anyone just happens to wonder, yes, there will be really new posts... so will anyone read them?

And please, if you find this or any post of value, please comment and/or share.  Thanks! 

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Bridges Not Walls!

Greetings once again, Readers - at least I hope some of you are out there somewhere (hmmmmm. anyone hear echoes of the tagline of a tv show?).

It seems our nutjob popular vote loser just signed an order to build a border wall.  Aside from being predicated by hate, it's probably just not practical.  Go figure.  Don't he and his minions do ANY sort of critical thinking? And he also thinks torture works (!), despite it has been shown that it is actually counterproductive.  Have they also no sense of morality, no thought that any fellow human beings should NOT be tortured?  

Somehow in all the rhetoric, it made me decide to dust off a poem I wrote for International Day of Peace back in 2015 (original post would be in the Sept. 2015 archives).  Why?  Well, believe it or not, the title of the poem is Bridges Not Walls. And isn't that what we REALLY should be about?

So I've given the poem a "background" and here it is:

And remember, if you find this post or any post here of value, please comment and/or share.  Thanks!

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Troubling Alerts (Updated)

Greetings. readers Can you believe it's 2017?   I hope there ARE readers out there; please don't be shy ---- do comment!  

It's been hard to even know what to write these days as the news is way too often so bad.  That also just keeps one's mind and spirit troubled and concerned, so I really haven't been writing much lately, on my blog or with my poetry.  I am currently working on a new poem, however (for my long-threatened book) and seeing these stories prompted me to do this blog post.  Everyone should be aware of what's going on.  I often wish to shield myself as well, and yes, some psychological breaks aren't bad (such as watching a detective story, romantic comedy, just walking, listening to music, whatever helps reduce stress - at least temporarily).  But there is that need to know what is being done.

You all know that I am firmly with the water protectors/protesters against the DAPL  In a "Can you believe this?" story, it is reported that two surface-to-air missile launchers (yes, you read that correctly) have been deployed by the National Guard to a work site for this nefarious project.  They say they are totally unarmed and just for "observational purposes," but I'm not sure I would believe them.  Missile launchers to observe protesters?  What are we coming to?  Well, I certainly wouldn't just take their word that this is so innocuous.  No, I would not!  Consider also that there has been a bill introduced in the ND Legislature which would make running over a protester not necessarily an offense.  The bill states: "Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a driver of a motor vehicle who unintentionally causes injury or death to an individual obstructing vehicular traffic on a public road, street, or highway, is not guilty of an offense."   One problem for sure is that it is highly unlikely that anyone would claim any "intent"  in such a case.  What a horrible bill.

In another alert, another "Can you believe this?" happening,  " !!!!!! " (Yup, I loathe even his name) International Hotel in DC has been banning journalists this Inauguration Week.  And that's not the kicker.  This hotel sits on FEDERAL land!  That's right, We're the landlords.  And what's more, it seems to be against the DC legal code.  What is going on when this nutjob and all are acting as though they're above the law?  I'm shaking my head and feeling such concern for our country now, our democracy, and our Planet.


What is going on?  There are bills in several state legislatures that would be very chilling to protest and dissent.  Here is more about the one proposed in Indiana.  We must all be vigilant and fight against such threats to our civil liberties!

So please, if you find this post or any post here of value, do comment and/or share. Thanks!