RJ's Corner

Living On The Outskirts Of Hope…

2015-09-26_17-00-20I want to pen some final words about Pope Francis here. The title of this post is a recent quote from him that truly inspires me. There are just too many people in the world to who the very idea of hope seems unknowable. They live in such despair that all they can manage is just surviving day-to-day.   It is said that Pope Francis views the world from the Bottom up. I have never thought of it in those terms but it is an accurate portrayal of him and I hope to a certain degree myself.

Most of us, especially those of us living in the U.S. view life from a top down window.   We all dream of getting rich someday so that we can buy whatever our hearts desire.  We feverishly follow tweets from all the rich and famous people dreaming to be like them someday. We seldom take time to think about those living below us and in some cases very far below us.

I know that GOP congressional leader Paul Ryan’s hero Ayn Rand called empathy a scourge of mankind and that is probably how Mr. Ryan and many of his GOP friends view mankind. They seem to deem those that have nothing are just lazy people looking for free stuff.  Empathy is putting yourself in the shoes of those less fortunate than yourself. Many simply refuse to go there.

To see the leader of the biggest Christian organization in the world living with a bottom up view is inspiring indeed. I hope his empathy is addictive to all those millions who went out to see him recently.  I know that Catholic Services is one of the strongest and most active religious organizations out there. If only all of us who call ourselves Christians were actively involved in such services we might just live up to the expectations of our founder.



Ready, Fire, Aim….

2015-10-07_13-12-55Gen. John F. Campbell, commander of the United States forces in Afghanistan, told a Senate panel on Tuesday that the hospital was “mistakenly struck” as a result of a decision “within the U.S. chain of command.”

Doctors Without Borders, which has likened the bombing to a war crime, said the purpose of the investigation would not be to establish criminal liability, but rather to clarify the laws of war and the conditions under which medical teams can operate in situations of armed conflict.

Source: Doctors Without Borders Calls for Inquiry Into Kunduz Hospital Attack – The New York Times

Doctors Without Borders is one of my favorite organizations. Their donors give so much without expecting anything in return. That is very unusual in today’s world. When I heard that a U.S. military operation bombed one of their hospitals I was devastated. The statement above is endemic to my conception of military leaders.

the hospital was “mistakenly struck” as a result of a decision “within the U.S. chain of command.”  

I hope someone “within the chain of command” is taken to task for this unnecessary death especially for doctors who volunteer to take care of the least of these.  We can’t allow the military leadership to decide when it is ok to kill innocents!

It seems to me, but what do I know, that too many within the military establishment are too focused on just getting the bad guys at any cost. They just seem to be ready-fire-aim type of guys. They call it “collateral damage” when they kill innocents in the process and somehow think that makes it ok.   The articles goes on to say that if we, the self proclaimed moralists of the world, think it is ok to destroy a Doctors Without Borders’ hospital that will allow everyone including those they fight so hard against to claim it is ok for them too.  I know Mr. Bush’s reasoning that torture was ok because we might save lives was against the Genova Convention too but I hope this incident doesn’t get included in the category also.

The Most Surprising Regret Of The Very Old

2015-09-26_11-33-28What do older people regret when they look back over their lives? I asked hundreds of the oldest Americans that question. I had expected big-ticket items: an affair, a shady business deal, addictions — that kind of thing. I was therefore unprepared for the answer they often gave:

I wish I hadn’t spent so much of my life worrying.

Source: The Most Surprising Regret Of The Very Old — And How You Can Avoid It | Karl A. Pillemer, Ph.D.

Fortunately for me personally I spend very little time worrying. It just seems to be something that doesn’t accomplish much. On the other hand my wife is an extreme worrier. I often say when she doesn’t have something to worry about she worries that she is not worrying enough. Until I read this article I didn’t realize that she, instead of me, was in the majority on this topic. She physically get sick before almost every one of our vacations by worrying about this or that.

Where she is a worrier, I am a planner or maybe a better description is dreamer.  I think about the future often and what I want to accomplish. I plan everything.  I was surprised to see that my planning evidently decreases worry. Here is a little about what the articles says about that:

Tip 2: Instead of worrying, prepare.

The elders see a distinct difference between worry and conscious, rational planning, which greatly reduces worry. It’s the free-floating worry, after one has done everything one can about a problem, which seems so wasteful to them.

Joshua Bateman, 74, summed up the consensus view:

If you’re going to be afraid of something, you really ought to know what it is. At least understand why. Identify it. ‘I’m afraid of X.’ And sometimes you might have good reason. That’s a legitimate concern. And you can plan for it instead of worrying about it.

Maybe it is because I try to be a “glass half full” person that I don’t worry as much as some.  Against all odds I try to see a good outcome for everything in life, even our politics.  Sometimes I am taken by surprise by some of the pessimistic things I see around me.  I recently mentioned to someone that when the time comes I plan on joining a continuous care retirement community so that I can maintain a social life when I am no longer mobile. The person who I was talking to said “I won’t do that because I might not get along with them and then would have to live with the conflict the rest of my life.”  I see the potential joy and that person see the potential dark side.

I hope I am able to keep a positive attitude as I grow even older than I am.  I personally experienced someone who became very spiteful in their final years. I hope I can see the joy in my life, whatever is left of it, instead of constantly seeing a dark side….



My Creative Side…

2015-08-01_16-31-26I seem to be ignoring my creative side lately in favor of other things.  I promised myself I would not do that so I will make an effort in the coming days to bring it back.  I believe that variety is the spice of life, no I don’t mean that in a sexual sense, but I also believe that creativity is a big part of living a fulfilling life.

I have recently taken on a project to put together a catalog of songs from my past that gave me insight into life or just gave me joy.  For some reason it struck me the other day that maybe my more frequent bouts of depression now are due to not being able to just sit back and listen to the music of my past.

One of the tragic things that I have discovered about my deafness is that I am no longer able to remember what musical instruments  or even music in general sound like! I watch someone playing the guitar and see the strings vibrate but just can’t remember what it sounds like. I can remember the cadence of songs but not the music.

2015-09-26_13-14-00I realize I can never listen to those songs now but I can still read the words and “sing” them to myself  and I do just that when I’m sure that no one can hear me. :)  I wail away to my own enjoyment.  I have carried  around the words of one of my favorite songs for several months now.  It is a song by Simon and Garfunkel entitled The Sounds Of Silence.  It is kind of ironic that I now can fully apprehend just what the sound of silence really is.

Anyway, I am attempting to gather many of the songs of my past and most of them are of the folk music variety.  Simon and Garfunkel, Bob Dylan, Peter Paul and Mary, Pete Seeger, and even Woody Guthrie.  But the list also includes some Beatles, Grateful Dead, Bruce Springsteen, and others but sorry, no Elvis or anything in that genre.   Since I went deaf in 1988 none of the singers today even register on my scale.  I have no idea what rapping is or why someone would want to play a record player backwards. Lady Ga Ga who I think is a singer is a total mystery to me as to why anyone is even interested.

I still have my record collection and am pulling it out now just to look at the covers. They bring back some pleasant memories.  I am sure I am biased but I don’t think anything today comes close to the songs of my youth during the rebellious 60s.





Abolish The Fed…

The Fed put us in zombie ZIRP-land almost ten years ago by cutting short-term rates to zero. In ZIRP-land, senior citizens spend sleepless nights watching their wealth shrink as puny interest earnings fail to cover the cost of life. In ZIRP-land, stock prices twitch up and down, transferring wealth from the poor, old and financially unsophisticated to the rich and powerful.

Source: Column: We have met the enemy, and it is the Fed

I will admit that I haven’t thought this post out entirely but I , like so many other seniors, am tired of the feds putting my life savings in jeopardy. For almost my entire lifetime senior citizens who didn’t want to put their life’s savings into the risky stock market had an option to get a little less money in the bond markets.  That option has completed dried since 2008 and to a lesser degree for the last decade.  There is just no where that we can even hope to safely get even a pittance of interest on our hard earned savings. meanwhile the cost of living continues to rise, especially our health care costs.

I am one of the fortunate few who still has a fixed pension plan  because of my thirty years of working for the same company. That gives me a substantial monthly payment. Since I live a fairly frugal life that along with social security covers most of my expenses. The money in the 401k and other savings is for enjoying my final years and to provide some relief to a few charities after I leave this earth.  But watching it decrease due to the feds keeping interest at zero for so long distresses me but not nearly as much as those trying to live on other types of pension plans.

It just makes no sense to me to basically risk giving my savings to someone without expecting at least a little in return.  Interest rates have been at zero for long enough to realize that they don’t do any more good than the trickle down scheme did a couple of decades ago.

Quit putting the brunt of the load on the backs of us seniors and raise interest rates to a reasonable level.

About Marriage and Divorce from a Christian Perspective…

2015-09-25_11-00-13But lost in the uproar are the voices of Christians, some equally conservative, who disagree with Davis’ stance and worry that holding her out as a martyr will ultimately hurt the cause of religious liberty….

Brenda Wynn, the clerk of Davidson County in Nashville, looks to Romans 13:1 for guidance: “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established.”

“I’m obliged to follow the law of the land,” Wynn said. “I love the Lord, but I must follow the law.”

Source: Kentucky clerk case divides religious liberty advocates – Yahoo News


The bible I read shows Jesus to be anything but “conservative”. He was a radical in his times. He often went head-to-head with others especially those religious leaders who were using wrong-headed principles  in their religious teachings. He simply had no patience for those who got God wrong. One of my favorite books on this topic is by Shane Claiborne entitled “The Irresistible Revolution”. It clearly demonstrates that Jesus was a radical of his times.

One of the good things about the bible is that you can find words there that ease your pain and give you direction.  One of the bad things about the bible is that you can find words there to seemingly back up whatever belief you might have about many topics.

Why is a legal license to marry being so opposed by “conservative” Christians and not the legal document in divorce that allows marriages to end? Don’t Christians say that “what God has put together let no man separate”? If Ms Davis follows her version of religion isn’t divorce just as wrong as homosexual marriage outside the church?  Others call Catholics who don’t strictly follow all the church’s doctrine “cafeteria Catholics” but doesn’t this apply across the Christian spectrum.  Don’t all of us who align and practice only selected items found in their religious documents? In reality Christians get divorced at a slightly higher rate than the general population. Why aren’t the evangelicals screaming about that?


The Golden Rule – The Capitalist Version…


Banner Ed CartoonsI think this editorial cartoon by Mike Lukovich says it better than I ever could.  The monied interests just have too much power in our national affairs.  That could be easily reversed if only ALL of us would simple vote.  How severe does the income inequality need to get before some of us realize that basic fact?

Under pressure from the right, House Speaker Boehner quits

who believe he was too willing to compromise with President Barack Obama and too frequently relied on Democratic votes to pass crucial legislation.

Source: Under pressure from the right, House Speaker Boehner quits | Reuters

I am very apprehensive about what is going to happen now that John Boehner is throwing in the towel in the House. I always viewed him as a good guy stuck in an impossible job.  Who replaces him will be critical to the nature of our country.

It is amazing to me how the three or four dozen GOP representative on the radical fringes of that party seem to be able to pull the rest of them in their direction! As Mark Shields said recently on a PBS Newshour broadcast these guys primary goal is to shut down government entirely. They see compromise as a dirty word. They see anyone who does not totally agree with them as the enemy. Everything is VERY black/white to them.  Why can’t the GOP control this group of government haters?

In some ways I would like to see Mr. Boehner replaced by one of them. That would give the potential voters in this country a good look at the politics of the Tea Party fringe. Then in twelve months or so when national elections are done they could be very quickly swept out of office and replaced by someone who knows the purpose of government. I say “potential voters” above because there are just so many in this country who fail to understand the power that they have.  I think we have the lowest election participation levels of any democracy in the world today.

There will be some trying times ahead. I hope we can survive them…

Goodbye John and thanks for trying and also getting the pope to America.

Pope Francis and Consumerism…

In Francis’ encyclical Laudato Sí, he took aim at the West’s “extreme and selective consumerism” and “throwaway culture,” arguing that the developed world’s voracious appetites are a bigger threat to the planet than population growth. Blaming overpopulation in poorer parts of the world, he writes, “is an attempt to legitimize the present model of distribution, where a minority believes that it has the right to consume in a way which can never be universalized, since the planet could not even contain the waste products of such consumption.”…

If Pope Francis is working at least partly on faith, surely the same is true of boosters of supply-side economics. Conservatives can believe that the laissez-faire policies pursued by George W. Bush didn’t directly lead to the 2008 economic crash, or that the tax changes pushed by Reagan aren’t a primary cause of the growing chasm of disparity between the rich and the poor — they can believe that Reaganomics works. But plenty of real economists would find that faith naïve and misguided.

You can disagree with the pope on economics or the environment or any host of issues — again, plenty of people do, including Catholics of all political persuasions. But it’s a little rich for the high priests of Voodoo Economics to be calling the Vicar of Christ an economic charlatan with nothing important to say.

Source: Why Pope Francis is at least as qualified to pontificate on economics as U.S. conservatives

I will soon be ending my “Pope Francis” posts and return to the normal day-to-day world so I want to put some closing thoughts into this post.  I am shockingly surprised just how aligned I am with the messages of Pope Francis during his visit to the U.S.  One of the advantages of being retired is that I was able to watch much of his activity in real-time.

I’m not sure that there was a single issue he brought up that I didn’t whole heartedly agree with.  This guy just seems to speak to my heart. I definitely have my differences with the church he leads but maybe even those will mostly diminish as he re-shapes Catholicism.

One of the sad things I see about Pope Francis is that he was not made pope long ago.  It seems like Pope Benedict was just wasted time.  Pope Francis is 78 years old and his physical movement show it.  I don’t know how long he will remain on this earth but I hope he has a long life.  The Church, and by that I mean all of Christianity, needs him and his teachings.

What I most fear, or maybe expect is a better word, is that the attention,his words and actions have brought forward will quickly subside and we, and the church, will go back to the way we were.

What Is This??

Tood Stool

I got my macro lens out recently to take this picture. It looks like a bunch of filing folders but in reality it is the underside of a toadstool I found in the yard.

Goodbye ATT/Yahoo News…

I’m not paranoid so I don’t think they are targeting me personally but I am once again very annoyed by my news feed of choice for the last year or so.Thumbnail

Let me give you a little background before I wade into this topic. I have discovered that I am without any doubt a morning person. I just don’t seem to be able to conjure up anything in a creative nature after lunch. For that reason a part of my usual morning routine is to browse the news from  the past day. I do this so that I stay informed with what is happening and also so I can create some ideas on what I want to blog about in the coming week. I have some special news sites such as  Time, The Week, and PBS Newshour that I read by but I depend on broader news feeds for most of what is happening.

That newsfeed for the past year or so has been Yahoo News but over the past months it is just too annoying to read any more.  Maybe because I am deaf I may be more sensitive than others for distractions in my peripheral vision. It seems that whenever there is a self-starting video anywhere on the list of news articles on my screen I can’t concentrate on what I am trying to read.  These self-starting videos have become to common on Yahoo News that I looked elsewhere for my morning reads.

I spent an hour or so trying to find if my current browser, or any browser for that matter, had the capability of stopping the annoyance but was unable to come up with anything. Months ago I shut down Adobe Flash as it is reported to be the source for many of the malware that prowls the Internet but it also created these self-starting annoyances. Shutting down Flash stopped the videos to some extent but not it seems they come from somewhere else.  Since there seem to be no viable way to stop this I looked elsewhere.

I am now over to Google News and have yet to come across this problem.  It is nice to be able to concentrate on what I am reading again. Google news provides you with a list of areas that you want to see. That is kind of nice but it may be preventing me from seeing something that I don’t have on the list but need to.

Anyway goodbye Yahoo news and hello every morning to my new friend Google News.

The public shaming of America’s CEOs

2015-09-13_11-55-33This shame game just might rein in CEO pay where previous attempts have failed, said Gretchen Morgenson at The New York Times. Once the pay gap is boiled down to an “easily graspable and often decidedly shocking number,” employees and consumers might actually protest, and red-faced corporate boards will be forced to act. As soon as the outlandish ratios begin coming out, we’ll hear from “corporate apologists” that CEOs earn their megamillions, because they deliver impressive returns just like “star baseball players or movie stars,” said Robert Reich at Huffington Post. “Baloney.” The stock market has surged so much over the past three decades, and corporate tax rates have become so generous, that a CEO could have “played online solitaire” all day long and still watched the company’s share price soar

Source: The public shaming of America’s CEOs.

The rhetoric behind CEO pay has become so inflamed that I doubt it is possible to shame them into getting less pay as suggested above.  The basic problem is that these guys think they actually deserve the millions handed over to them.  Most of their egos are so large that they think they are the saviors of their industries.

Carly Fiorina who is currently running for president is a good example of that.  Before she left AT&T for her brief stay at HP she made a decision to move the business unit that I had worked in for almost thirty years.  She decided to put it in a joint-venture with a foreign company.  To us on the inside it became totally obvious that this merger was a huge mistake. The cultural clash that resulted basically brought down the unit and it was sold to a Chinese manufacturer for pennies on the dollar within two years of Carly’s great insight.

She then went on to likewise almost destroy HP. Her decision to buy another computer manufacturer was flawed from the very beginning and most everyone knew it from the get-go. But like a true huckster she manages to find a statistic here or there to seemingly say she made wise decisions.  With the CEO label attached to her name Carly now thinks she can run the country better than anyone else. The tragic thing about it is that some actually fall for her hype.  Her golden parachute was more than $40 million so she has plenty of money to spend on her grandiose scheme to become the leader of the free world.

The basic problem with the entire corporate leadership structure in this country it that it is almost entirely managed by a very small group. They are all, for the most part, CEOs themselves and serve on each others boards. The old saying “you scratch my back and I will scratch yours” is the current mantra for corporate America today.

Since most stock today is now in the hands of mutual funds companies who themselves are made up of lavishly provided corporate heads it is almost impossible for any small group of investors to effect a change in this structure. Somethings got to change to reign in CEO pay and parachutes, I just don’t know that it is…

I am that not so smart wise guy in this area…

Democratic Socialism….

In Denmark, Sanders said, health care is a right, and college education is free. “Sounds like a very terrible form of government,” he said sarcastically.

 In Finland, Sanders said, the public education system is the strongest in the world. There’s a strong child care system. Wages are generally higher than in the United States. And retirement programs are strong. “Now is all that stuff free? No,” Sanders said. “They pay more in taxes. … And the wealthy there pay a lot more in taxes.” But at the end of the day, Sanders said, Americans should ask themselves what it would be like to have a country where the elderly don’t have to worry about how to pay for prescription drugs, where all parents have access to high-quality child care, and where they know their children can go to college, regardless of their income.

Sanders acknowledged the Scandinavian countries he cited “are no utopias.” But he asked his audience to compare how secure people are there compared to here.

“We’ve got an economy that basically says everybody is out there on their own,” he said. “And if you don’t make it, well that’s tough luck. You don’t have any health insurance and you get sick, good luck to you. … You’re a bright kid and you come from a family that doesn’t have any money. Tough luck, you’re not going to go to college.”

Source: What Bernie Sanders means by ‘democratic socialism.’ (You still have your choice of pajamas.) – The Washington Post

It is obvious from recent poll data that Bernie Sanders message is getting a lot of play.  I am one of those who sees his dream as my dream.  But I’m sure he will take mammoth heat from Trump Republicans if he were ever to get the nomination. The GOP has screamed “SOCIALIST” so often and loud it has almost become a vulgar word to all those low info voters out there.  All they hear from the entire words above is  “They pay more in taxes”.

I am a pragmatist so  I would love to see the U.S. learn some of the lessons from the rest of the world.  Bernie’s words ring true to me and I dream, maybe a fool’s dream, that he somehow can get the nomination.  BUT… But if he did would anything really change.  Obama had progressive dreams too but managed to do very little with them. Yeah, he got a watered down version of universal healthcare but that is about it. There was just too much anti-this anti-that opposition from the GOP to accomplish much without some paradigm shift in this country.

The only way to accomplish Bernie’s (and my) dream is a wholesale change in congress and that can only be accomplished when the majority of the Republican party finally reigns in, or maybe more appropriately knocks down, its radical fringe segment.  I really want to believe that most in the GOP are hard-working people who are not totally self-centered and do care about their neighbors. I want to believe that most who pledge allegiance to the GOP don’t align with the hateful views of the screamers in their party.  But until this silent majority finally takes back control of their party nothing can change with Bernie as president or anyone else.   We are coming to a tipping point in the country and it is up to the GOP to decide whether we finally go over the edge.

The Mark Of The Shepherd…

the mark of the shepherd is you have got the smell of the sheep.

You have to go out and not only teach, but listen to the people of God. And he said, my ideal of a pastor was a priest I knew who knew who the name of every dog in the slum….

What he has done, I think, is he has transformed the Catholic attitude towards the world. He’s calling us to the margins and to the marginalized. And that is, of course, the oldest Christian message…

It is his identification with the poor that most differentiates Pope Francis. His remarks on inequality and the excesses of modern capitalism have been forceful, and he has attacked supply-side economics, policies that call for tax cuts for the rich, as a near-sacrilegious heresy.

Source: How a low-profile priest transformed into Pope Francis

 While I agree with everything above I especially love the first quote. It describes perfectly the difference between just saying words and actually acting out your beliefs.  Pope Francis is the epitome of being a humanitarian and demonstrates that fact through words and especially his actions. It will be interesting to hear in the coming days whether his words stuck to any of the politicians in Washington.  On this account I am pretty skeptical.  If dozens of young school kids being blown away by freely available guns did nothing to promote any gun legislation I doubt that this pious man’s words will have much of a lasting effect but I would love to be proven wrong.

Wouldn’t it be gigantic to see that the common good as the pope described it take hold in our national processes.

  • We need to quit using federal funds to abort life before birth as well as to end existing life via execution or street level violence.
  • We need to reign in capitalism so that  it allows families at all levels of the economy to thrive.
  • We need to FINALLY get a hold of allowing guns in the hands of those who would do so much harm .
  • We need to make sure that even the poor have an opportunity to become rich, even very rich, but NEVER very very rich. When too much is allowed to accumulate in the hands of a few humanity can never prosper or even survive for long. We need to finally understand that basic principle.
  • We need to treat the least of these  as we want to be treated.
  • We need to get out of our pews, synagogs and mosques and put messages of God engraved in our hearts into action.
  • We need to do whatever is necessary to stop killing each other over ideologies that really won’t make much difference. We need to quit sending our young men and women to war as a first choice.

Will any of these things have even a chance of happening?  I pray that they will but dread that they won’t. Thank you Pope Francis for putting all of these topics front and center in our lives if even only for a day or two.

Even In Small Town America…


Pope Francis recently spoke out about “unbridled capitalism”. A good example of that is the unregulated sales of guns in this country. Even my small town of 2,000 now has a gun shop where anyone can buy just about any weapon they choose.  Capitalism is the best economic system in the world but when it is unfettered from any moral requirements it is perhaps among the worst…

Two Very Different Views Of Being Christian…

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee said President Barack Obama “pretends to be” Christian

“I’m less concerned about what faith the person has. I’m more concerned about the authenticity of their faith and how that plays out in their politics … I’m also concerned about a guy that believes he’s a Christian and pretends to be and then says he is, but then does things that makes it very difficult for people to practice their Christian faith,” Huckabee said. “I’m disappointed if someone says, ‘I’m a Christian,’ but you invite the pope into your home and then you invite a whole bunch of people who are at odds with the Catholic Church policy. I think there’s something very unseemly about that,” he added.

Source: Mike Huckabee: Obama pretends to be a Christian – CNNPolitics.com

I find it tragically ironic that the story above comes from a person who was a minister of a Christian denomination. The bible says more than a thing or two about judging others but this previous minister seems to have skipped that lesson in his bible. Are Mr. Huckabee’s words typical of all Baptists in this country? I just don’t know…

No man has a right to judge what is in another’s heart and to do just that is a fatal affront to God who does. If this were the story of the week I would likely be depressed once again on the narrowness of Christian beliefs.  But thank heavens that it is not the only story. Pope Francis has lightened my heart in religious matters. He is truly living out the words of Jesus.  Mr. Huckabee on the other hand just wants to secure his following in the bitter, angry, and anti-everything base of his party. I guess his words will get him a few more votes there but I am hoping that elsewhere people will come to understand the character of this particular politician….

Perhaps They Never Will..


I have to put out a quick post here following Pope Francis’ speech before our congress. To me it was very inspiring but obviously there were those there that simply refused to listen to anything he said. Instead they sat stoically on their hands while those around them frequently stood and applauded.

This reminded me of the last words in the final verse of one of my favorite songs which is entitled “Vincent” by Don McClean. It goes like this…

They would not listen,

They are not listening still

Perhaps they never will

I just cannot believe that the current GOP leadership really represent all those who claim allegiance to that party.  Are all those millions who make up the GOP base so close minded that they will not even consider listening to anything that might threaten their current views?  I certain hope not.  The Bible calls that “hardened hearts”.  Perhaps its time to look elsewhere for your leaders?

The Good Old Days…

2015-09-17_10-04-38a world that is boiling over in violence and cut-throat theocracy makes me nostalgic for the days it was merely “simmering in resentment and tyranny

Source: How the refugee crisis is teaching us the value of Hussein, Mubarak, and Gadhafi

Don’t we all wish for the “good old days” when Saddam ruled with an iron fist and as a result kept the lid on the Middle East.  Yeah his bravado rankled many but we for the most part just ignored him. He did kill thousands of his own people to maintain control but millions have been killed in the aftermath of his takedown by the U.S. military under their commander-in-chief George W. Bush.

Civil wars have tarnished history throughout time perhaps no more so than our own war over the right to own another person. The same can be said for religious wars. We seem to be a race that “MUST” always have an enemy in one form or another. If we don’t have one we search far and wide until we find one.  I often wonder if the other civilizations in the universe are as belligerent as we are or have they learned to coexist with each other?

Yeah we took down Saddam’s regime but I kind of think that the old saying “Be careful what you wish for as you just might get it” holds true here. There are perhaps thousands of lessons about needless wars in our past and we just never seem to fathom them especially when a new opportunity presents itself.

The U.S. has by a very wide margin the biggest war machine in the world. I wonder what would happen if we spent half the amount we spend on our weapons of destruction on finding a peaceful way to just get along.

I know that I am a naive idealist but isn’t thinking against the grain how paradigm shifts happen?

President Obama’s welcoming speech to Pope Francis

2015-09-23_10-14-00Your Holiness, in your words and deeds, you set a profound moral example. And in these gentle but firm reminders of our obligations to God and to one another, you are shaking us out of complacency. All of us may, at times, experience discomfort when we contemplate the distance between how we lead our daily lives and what we know to be true and right. But I believe such discomfort is a blessing, for it points to something better. You shake our conscience from slumber; you call on us to rejoice in Good News, and give us confidence that we can come together, in humility and service, and pursue a world that is more loving, more just, and more free. Here at home and around the world, may our generation heed your call to “never remain on the sidelines of this march of living hope!”

Source: President Obama’s welcoming speech to Pope Francis | Nation | CentreDaily.com

The above words are from the welcoming speech President Obama gave to Pope Francis a while ago. This speech brought me to tears. Click on the source above to see the entire speech.   If only we as a nation could embrace the message given.  But sadly I realize that there are many who presently control our congress who will do almost anything to prevent much of them from becoming reality.

The pope’s words and actions almost want me to renew my Catholic bonds that were lost so many years ago.

About Drug Addictions…

2015-09-13_11-47-16Of the 2.3 million inmates crowding our nations prisons and jails, 1.5 million meet the DSM-IV medical criteria for substance abuse or addiction, and another 458,000, while not meeting the strict DSM-IV criteria, had histories of substance abuse; were under the influence of alcohol or other drugs at the time of their crime; committed their offense to get money to buy drugs; were incarcerated for an alcohol or drug law violation; or shared some combination of these characteristics, according to Behind Bars II: Substance Abuse and America’s Prison Population. Combined these two groups constitute 85% of the U.S. prison population. The new 144-page report released today by The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University also reveals that alcohol and other drugs are significant factors in all crime. In 2006, alcohol and other drugs were involved in these inmate offenses: 78% of violent crimes 83% of property crimes 77% of public order, immigration or weapon offenses; and probation/parole violations

Source: New CASA* Report Finds: 65% of All U.S. Inmates Meet Medical Criteria for Substance Abuse Addiction, Only 11% Receive Any Treatment | CASAColumbia

Addiction has a very strong stranglehold on so many of us. I was addicted to nicotine for almost thirty years of my life. My wife who five years ago had half a lung removed because of cancer continues to smoke today. She simply can’t not smoke. She like so many others has convinced herself that smoking and cancer are just not related.  It seems the more I object to her smoking the more she smokes.

I was not too surprised to see that over 80% of the people incarcerated in the U.S. have a serious addition.  Some are there because they stole in order to support it. Some are there because they did stupid things while under the influence of their favorite narcotic. What makes people become addicts? Part of it is I’m sure the futility  they see in their lives.  They simply don’t have any hope.  They live in a world that is so out of kilter that they want to escape it and drugs allow them to do just that for at least a short period of time.

Some, like myself, became addicted because of social/peer pressure. Cigarettes were the rebellion tool of choice for my generation. That and the fact that my father was a heavy smoker pushed me into that drug.

Of course an answer to our ever rising incarceration of addicted U.S. citizens must be a multifaceted approach. There is not silver bullet as so often prescribed by so many of my conservative friends.  The answer simply can’t be “lock them up and throw away the key”…

How do we give some semblance of hope to those who currently have none?  How do we keep people from destroying their lives for a temporary relief?  I don’t pretend to have any answers to these questions but some how some one more knowledgable than me needs to seriously help us address it.


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