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This is a continuation of my Friday posts about the book “Yin/Yang and American Culture” by Kim Eun. It is a book well worth reading about the differences between American and much of the rest of the world. This post is about American Women…

“There are two kinds of women in the world: American women and women.” This is a joke among Asian men doing business internationally. American women have been liberated and empowered to such a degree that they belong in a category all their own among the women of the world. Compared with their counterparts in other countries, American women have accomplished a great deal in career advancement. Even European nations that maintain progressive, family oriented programs lag far behind the United States in providing equal employment opportunities to women. In Japan, Germany, and other European and Asian countries, women face serious obstacles to achieving workplace equality. They are expected to assist men and are given lower wages, less stable employment, and fewer opportunities for advancement.

Furthermore, in Confucian tradition, women could not interrupt men’s conversations or speak loudly or be aggressive. Women were told, “If a hen cries, the family will disintegrate.” Many Asian women still do not assert their rights at home or at work. Asian men tend to resent assertive women, and Asian women are afraid of offending their men. Many Japanese women still speak in a higher-than-natural pitch (for social acceptance), especially in formal settings, on the phone, or when dealing with customers. Supposedly, Japanese men are attracted to high-pitched voices ; they perceive women with lower voices as too aggressive or unfeminine.

Kim, Eun Y. (2001-07-05). Yin and Yang of American Culture: A Paradox (Kindle Locations 751-754). Intercultural Press Inc. Kindle Edition.

I consider equality of condition and opportunity to be by far the greatest American tradition and am proud that women have come so far in our society during my lifetime. Those of us who are over sixty remember when American women’s place was generally in the home. She had little opportunities outside of that environment. The shortage of men to do factory work during World War II showed women that they could do almost anything they desired. Once they discovered that they didn’t look back.

The subservient attitudes of and toward women in much the rest of the world saddens me. Asian cultures are beginning to break down barriers but not fast enough.  And then there are the Muslim countries who treat women worse than slaves. Burkas should go the way of slave chains in this world. To treat such a significant portion of any population that way is shameful to me. I know traditions are hard to break in some cultures but break they eventually must. I hope that the American model will eventually incite changes in the rest of the world. We definitely have something to teach so many others in that regard.

It makes me proud to see that the rest of the world sees our accomplishments in this area.

 

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I snagged the above graphic from one of my favorite Facebook pages over at RoadTrip Nation.

I was guilty of doing what Francis Collins said above.  I let others tell me what I should love….

One of the troubles with this saying is to understand what you love at that early age which is most often easier said than done….

Common People….

July 3, 2014

2014-06-28_11-29-19Nobody wants to be called Common People, especially common people.” – Will Rogers, 21 June 1925

Ain’t that the truth Will, even in the 21st century. It is always surprising at how many people claim themselves to be middle-class versus those who really are. According to Wikipedia most researchers put the middle class in two categories:

Upper Middle Class – Those are folks who earn an annual income of between $75,000 and somewhere between $100,000 and $200,000 depending on the study. These folks are typically highly-educated (often with graduate degrees), most commonly salaried, professionals and middle management with large work autonomy

Lower Middle Class – This population earns between $35,000 and $70,000 and are semi-professionals and craftsmen with a roughly average standard of living. Most have some college education and are white-collar.

Working Class – These folks make between $20,000 and $35,000 and make up about 30% of the population. They are mostly clerical and most blue-collar workers whose work is highly routinized. Standard of living varies depending on number of income earners, but is commonly just adequate. High school education.

The two middle class categories make up around 50% of the population. The working class make up another 30%. But when you ask individuals if they are middle-class almost all of the above categories say “yes”. There are even some who make up to $500,000 think they are middle class.

No one wants to be common….

 

The GOP Brand….

July 2, 2014

2014-06-27_18-22-44The GOP brand has become a foul-tasting stew of wars against women, insults against seniors, alienation of Hispanics, dog-whistle undertones of racism against blacks, abusive congressional hearings and internecine warfare of Republican against Republican.

Thank you, Karl Rove. May pundits extol your brilliance and Republicans applaud your sleaze.

SOURCE:  Rove, Benghazi Lift Dems | Brent Budowsky.

It seems that the Republican party is hell-bent on becoming extinct. Fox News is the face of the GOP for most of us. We know that the median age of viewers of that channel is above seventy years of age. We also know that the viewers are generally predominately white and male.  As a result of this knowledge when I think of the GOP  the following picture gets stuck in my head.

I think of grumpy old white guys hunkered down in their homes looking out through the curtains on the world that simply terrifies them.  They see more and more “people of color” in their neighborhoods. They see women in positions of authority.  All of this simply terrifies them!!

The Republican brand is a dying brand. They are fighting among themselves as to who can be the most conservative. They think that If only we could get back to the good old days where everyone knew their places everything would return to their John Wayne or maybe Dirty Harry like world.

As I said this is the picture I see when I think of the GOP.  Now I realize that there are many who still cling to that brand that don’t fit this scenario but it seems that even those moderate Republicans who don’t see the word “compromise” as being a treasonous are quickly being disheartened by the GOP.  Many are now calling themselves “independent”. In other words they are seeking an alternative.  I once considered myself a Republican but the Republican I was has long ago been driven out of the party.

This whole scenario reminds me of one other group now extinct and that is the Shaker religious sect. I certainly admired them. They prospered for a period but became extinct due to some of their rigid beliefs.  Here is a little of what Wikipedia says about them.

The Shaker movement was at its height between 1820 and 1860. It was at this time that the sect had its most members, and the period was considered its “golden age”. It had expanded from New England to the Midwestern states of Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio…..

There were only 12 Shaker communities left by 1920. The Shaker communities continued to lose members, partly through attrition, since believers did not give birth to children…

The only remaining active Shaker community in the United States is Sabbath Day Lake Shaker Village in Maine, which as of 2012 had only three members…

At one time the Shakers were a thriving well thought of community but now there are only three remaining members. I kind of think that some day, maybe not in the too distant future, there will be only three remaining Republicans someplace still dreaming of the good old days.

 

2014-06-26_11-57-11This is going to be one of my soapbox posts so be warned.

Iraq is back in the news now with the latest insurgence. It seems the Shiite Muslims just don’t want to go down without a fight and the Sunni Muslims who now have most of the power don’t want to give their rivals any breathing room. Civil war is the logical conclusion where one religious group is battling another. History has certainly seen a lot of these type of wars.

Let’s flash back to the year 2000 when Saddam Hussein had iron fist control of the country. There was relative peace at least if you were a Shiite and for the most part Sunni. The dictator did now allow the drug trade or Al Qaeda into the country that his enemy often Afghanistan promoted.  There was a general peace among the populace and IEDs were unheard of. Yes, it appears to be true that Hussein did kill about 3,000 of his citizens over some perceived control things.  He insisted that he have ALL the power in the country and for the most part he did.

Then comes 2003 when President Bush decided that the leader of Iraq was developing nuclear weapons and was responsible for much of the current Al Qaeda movement.  It turns out that both of these things were grossly false but we invaded anyway. As a consequence over 150,000 Iraqi citizens have been killed and many more maimed.  Now that we have left, a religious civil war is in the process. By any standards we have made life much more miserable for the vast majority of people of that country.

Another devastating fact of that war is that we have lost about 4,500  of our kids  and seriously maimed another 32,000. No, it was not as lethal as Vietnam which was the war of my generation but still too many kids’ lives were extinguished in a totally unnecessary manner.  A famous saying that I will paraphrase is that we wonder why when we continue to do the same thing over and over again we don’t get a different result. Why can’t the leaders of one generation learn from those who went before them?

It is likely that no matter how many years we continue to throw our kids lives and our wealth into that country the final result will be the same.  Sectarian violence will rule out and Iraq will likely split into two or more religious theocracies.  In the end it comes down to which version of God you want to follow. I don’t think that is what God intended us to do when he created the universe…. Shame on us for allowing it to happen….

 

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From FaceBook…..

You Have To Use Them…

June 30, 2014

2014-06-23_16-39-48I heard a comment recently that has stuck to me. It went like this

You can’t just say you have rights, you have to use them to prove you have them”

I know of so many people who scream about the first amendment right to free speech but then villainize those who speak out against things that they don’t agree with. It seems, at least from their standpoint, that freedom of speech is a one-way street going only the way they go.

Some of the most vitriol comments I get on this blog is for saying things that others don’t agree with and since I am for the most part a contrarian I often go against the popular trends of the times. It just seems that someone has to do that to keep us from getting into a complacent attitude about things or to think that our way is the only way.

Freedom of speech and for that matter to protest and redress Grievances is something that has to be practiced to be real. We can’t simply put them on a shelf and admire them for their virtue. If they aren’t used they will eventually become worthless.

The ACLU often comes to the defense of those we don’t agree with. For that reason that letter combination is often treated with disdain. It is only through their practices that our freedoms are maintained and even advanced. If you don’t use them you lose them as the saying goes.

 

 

This is a continuing post based on the Stephen Mattson’s post over at Red Letter Christians on the misconceptions of Christianity.

5. It Solves All Your Problems

Christianity isn’t a magic cure for sickness, broken relationships, abuse and injustice. It’s not meant to be a quick-fix solution to everything that’s wrong in your life or the lives of others.

Unfortunately, many interpret Christianity as a form of escapism, a way to avoid the harsh realities of life. Christ’s message isn’t about avoiding difficulties or preventing them from happening, but confronting them.

Following Jesus means embracing the hardships of humanity and struggling, empathizing, supporting and helping those who are sick, weak, poor, diseased, abandoned and forsaken. In many ways being a Christian causes more problems than it solves—but the hope and promises of Jesus strengthen us for the journey.

When the disciples decided to follow Jesus, instead of making their lives easier and more comfortable, most were persecuted and eventually killed because of their beliefs. Are we prepared for the commitment and burdens that Christianity requires?

Let’s face it, most of us Christians live a pretty good life. At least compared to the original followers of Jesus who for the most part were killed for their beliefs. We got it easy, all we think we have to do is to go to church on an occasional Sunday and to “believe” the right things.  There are more than a few Christian leaders who claim that if you give your life to Jesus then you will prosper beyond even your imagination.  They preach the prosperity gospel. Give a little to God and get much more in return. While that basic concept is true in the spiritual sense they say it is about money and wealthy living.

Others treat Christianity as an escape mechanism. It is a way to get away from their present lives and the ensuing realities. They think that be a Christian is about hunkering down with others who believe as you do and to wait out the inequities of life for a better one in the next.

To me, and I’m sure to Stephen, being a Christian means you love God and you love your brothers. Jesus taught us that our brothers are everyone else who was created by God. We are to love that homeless person sleeping in the park just as much as we love our parents or children, He told us that we are to do what we can to create heaven on earth. Doing that, even in the slightest regard, is not easy and is fraught with problems.

  • It means taking on those who are persecuting others for political or monetary gain.
  • It means seeking justice for the oppressed.
  • It means feeding those who are hungry.
  • It means treating everyone with respect and love as we want them to treat us.
  • It means following the words and commands of Jesus

None of that is easy and no, it doesn’t solve all our problems. In fact if we do it right it will probably add more troubles than we already have. Being a follower of Jesus Christ is not easy but it certainly is VERY rewarding…..

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A little tidbit from my friends at RoadTrip Nation on Facebook.

NYC…

June 28, 2014

I am going to spend the next few Saturday posts reporting on my recent trip to New York City. It was an enlightening time for me. I learned some things about myself that I didn’t appreciate before.

When we lived in central New Jersey at the end of the last millennium my wife fell in love with Central Park. She has talked about it many times in the almost 15 years since she was last there. She is getting somewhat physically restricted so it was now or never if we were going to re-visit that city.  It is about the only thing in her bucket list so I was determined to make it happen.

We spent two days traveling from our home to there. Knowing that NYC traffic is impossible we took a train in from central New Jersey to Penn Station. It was a two hour trip that we have taken several times. We stayed three days at the DoubleTree Suites looking down from 38 stories onto Times Square.

Now that I have set up the scene for the next few posts it is time to do a gallery of pictures. More words and thoughts next Saturday. More pictures and stories next week. Click on any picture to see an expanded gallery…