Living Too Long….

I only fear that I may live too long. This would be a subject of dread to me –  Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson is not alone in this subject of dread.  I personally have already seen this too many times in my life and since I leave no heirs to care for me I dread that I too will live too long.  Those that I love sometimes have a very bitter end to their existence. They wither completely away before that last heart beat. They are a shell of what they once were before the Lord takes them. Then there are those who have died much too young in life. The first personal occurrence of this is when I lost a very good friend in the Vietnam war. He died much too young and for no purpose.

Too bad that we humans can’t have, like the milk we buy in the store, an expiration date stamped on us when we are born. At least then we would know what kind of life we might expect. If we are to die young then to heck with all that education stuff; lets just enjoy the time we have. If we are to die very old then we know to prepare ourselves for that eventuality. If we are to die in the normal course of things then we have the peace of knowing we will live a full life.

If we had an expiration date I suspect we would all live our lives more fruitfully. We would know exactly how much we needed to accumulate wealth and when to spend the last dime of it. 🙂

Gender Roles….

I noticed in our local paper recently that there were about 30 young people from our local high school who were inducted into the National Honor Society. Seven were guys, the rest were girls.  This seems pretty indicative of what is happening in the U.S. the last few decades. Girls are the ones who see educations as important and guys, for the most part, think it is a waste of time. Girls are pretty much the ones who stay in school and guys make up the majority of those who currently drop out of high school.

It is a fact that girls are also the majority of those going to college.  As the graph below shows they became the majority about 1990 and has been pulling away ever since.

If it hasn’t occurred already I imagine the gender roles will soon be reversed in that the female of the household will become the primary bread winner. Guys, and maybe our society as a whole, just seem to be more fixated on sports than they are about education. The nerds among us guys, despite successes such as Bill Gates, are still the object of ridicule among testosterone driven teenagers 😉

If You’re Not Paying For It……..

Source: Facebook isn’t free – USATODAY.com.

The best way I’ve ever heard Facebook’s business model described is simple: “If you’re not paying for it, you’re not the customer; you’re the product being sold.” What makes Facebook so valuable is that you, your friends, and everyone else who uses the site are sitting ducks for marketers out to exploit your information to sell you things.

This article is about FaceBook but could be about many things in the world today. The saying “If you are not paying for it you are not the customer.” goes beyond this one particular company but it is also very appropriate to Facebook. Facebook’s real customers are the ones who pay them for the info you put on you page. Let’s face it (pun intended) that Facebook and Google make their millions by selling info about each of us.

I am not a conspiracy type guy so I am not one to put an evil face  (pun intended again 😉 ) on either of these companies. They both provide a worthwhile service.  Being able to keep up with long time friends and being able to find info on just about anything with just a few keystrokes has changed our basic way of life in the twenty-first century.  I can’t imagine what is coming next in this area.

But we must also realize they both of these companies know what side of the bread the butter is on. I know that after I “googled” about getting a new car there suddenly appeared dozens of emails from the various car manufactures. I became quite a bit of work to parse through all of that and rightly put it in the virtual trash.  Since I am not a frequent user of Facebook, I seldom post anything and only get on the site a couple of times a week, I can’t say much about them.

Memorial Day…

Memorial Day is supposed to be about remembering those who have died in our wars. Since I believe that every person is equally valuable I will mourn the innocent civilians lost in our wars as much as the soldiers on both sides who fought in them. After all the vast majority, if not all our previous enemies in war are now our allies to one degree or another.

The twentieth century is known as the bloodiest century of our existence. Let us all pray that somehow all of us in this world manage to put our belligerent ways behind us and be a people of peace and love as our God intended.

A Divine Act of Providence….

If by some divine act of providence we could get rid of both these parties and hired some good men, like any other big business does, why that would be sitting pretty. – November 1, 1932  Will Rogers

I am going to go off-topic here and talk about divine providence. Just what is it?

Here is the general definition:

Divine providence is the means through which God governs all things in the universe. The principle of divine providence asserts that God is in complete control

And here is one from Wikipedia more aligned with religious theology:

In theology, divine providence, or simply providence, is God’s activity in the world. “Divine Providence” (usually capitalized) is also used as a title of God. A distinction is usually made between “general providence”, which refers to God’s continuous upholding the existence and natural order of the universe, and “special providence”, which refers to God’s extraordinary intervention in the life of people.

Simply put I don’t think we should blame God for all our screw-up or expect miracles from him to fix them up. That is just jettisoning the responsibility for our actions.  I know Will was not particularly a religious person so I’m sure he didn’t realize the full extent of what he was saying so I won’t put that on him.

I guess I am one to believe in “general providence” as shown above but not the divine version. Yes, when God created the universe during the Big-Bang he set us on a path dominated by his laws of nature. He has been dribbling out knowledge of those laws to us throughout our existence. When we say that the tornado that killed many people was an act of God we seem to be saying that God somehow decided to kill a bunch of innocent people with a weather event. That is simply horse-hockey as far as I am concerned. I see tornadoes as being an occurrence of violence due to the coming together of several natural events (usually weather fronts colliding) and not a willful act of God.

We need to get over the idea that God wills everything that happens to us and around us.  Most of those things, excluding weather related natural disasters,  we simply brought upon ourselves. God had nothing to do with it.

But what do I know….

Historic battleship USS Iowa to become museum in Los Angeles

Source: U.S. News – Historic battleship USS Iowa to become museum in Los Angeles.

“There’s no more ships like this in existence in the active navies anywhere in the world,” said Robert Kent, president of the Pacific Battleship Center.

Thank the Lord there are no more ships like this in existence.  When you take a massive explosive shell and launch it from up to twenty miles away there was little chance that it will hit exactly where you intended. It could just as easily hit a small town of 800 as it would a military complex.

Anyone who has read much of this blog knows that I am a peacenic. I utterly disdain all the wars we have managed to get ourselves into here in the U.S. They say that the 20th century, which I lived in more than half of was the bloodiest one of our existence.  We seemed to be constantly in a war with someone for a number of different reason and as the years went by we honed our killing ability more and more.

We are to the point now that our soldiers don’t even have to leave their community and can still kill the “bad guys” remotely and be home for dinner.  But at least we don’t have anymore Battleship Iowas that cause so much collateral damage. Now we have million dollar smart bombs released from remote-controlled aircraft to do our dirty work.

I can only dream that there is someway to make the 21st century less deadly than the previous one. Blessed are the peacemakers. Maybe some day we will actually take that lesson to heart.  Goodbye Battleship Iowa. I am so glad to at least see you go…..

Dropping Out of School….

I just saw a segment on CNN about kids, high school age and younger, who are dropping out of school to take care of a home bound love one.  These kids are caring for a mother, father, grandparent, or sibling on a full-time basis because there is no one else available  to do it. The compassion they show is inspiring indeed. But at the same time it is totally shameful that they are even be put into a situation like this.

It is estimated that there are about 1.3 million kids in this situation. They have dropped out of school to give constant care to a loved one.  By leaving school at such an early stage they are almost guaranteeing that they will live a life of poverty. This situation does not occur in any other developed country besides the U.S.  We are the only developed country in the world that chooses to make healthcare a privilege of those who can afford it instead of a right to all its citizens. This terrible situation is a direct result of that choice. Unfortunately there are hundreds of other examples to be found.

I pray that someday we will provide universal healthcare for our elderly and disabled so that future kids do not have to make the choice of staying in school or seeing that a love one is cared for.  SHAME ON US FOR EVEN PUTTING THEM IN A SITUATION LIKE THIS…..

To Take a Drink…

A few years ago we were so afraid that the poor people was liable to take a drink. Now we’ve fixed it so that they can’t even get something to eat.  — Will Rogers

Every time I look at all my source quotes from Will for one to the included here I am amazed at how they apply to our times as well as Will’s eighty years ago.  Most of Will’s quotes come from the Depression years of the 1930s. While he was one of the 1% of his era he had the mind and compassion for the common folk.

I think Will understood that about the only affordable luxury for most folks today is to gather at their favorite “watering hole” on Friday nights to complain about everything with others like themselves. Some might say they really can’t even afford to do that but it is definitely cheaper than the psychiatrist’s couch that the rich folks typically use. It seems that Friday nights and a weekly lottery ticket are the highlights of many folks life now.

Maybe some day the corporate people will see that giving the average guy a raise once in a while instead of always giving it to the shareholders will actually cause more profits. They all bought into the “trickle down” theory of the Reagan years so why not the “trickle up” theory now?

But what do I know…..

The Culture of Viciousness….

What is a culture, the non-medical kind that is? The best definition I could find in relation to this post is:

 a particular form or stage of civilization, as that of a certain nation or period

I was recently introduced to the term “the culture of viciousness” and was immediately struck by its seemingly accurate description of our current times here in the U.S.  and perhaps the world as a whole. The most appropriate term to describe what is going on in congress and in much of the country is viciousness. The way we seem to treat each other lately is very saddening indeed!  Have we turned permanently to the dark side of civilization?  I hope there is a way out of this current trend.

It is totally perplexing to me as to why we got to this state of affairs but I believe that it stems from the fact that the average everyday guy is just tired of running in place and still getting farther and farther behind.

  • He has not seen a real raise in his income for twenty years.
  • He sees the 1% get more and more each year while he gets less and less
  • He sees statistics that show that he will be laid off or have to change jobs seven time in his working years.
  • He wants to give his family many of the things he sees everyday on TV but can only do that by adding to his credit card debt and therefore digging himself deeper and deeper into a hole.
  • Maybe most importantly he looks at his kids and can’t see that they will be any better off than him.

I don’t know if our current congress is mirroring this viciousness or just maybe the cause of it. Either way they are not setting an example for how we should be treating each other.  The folks in congress are supposed to be our leaders and the wisest among us. Why aren’t they leading by example?

When Jesus, the foundation of our Christian establishment, was asked what is the most important he said to “Love God and to love your fellow man”. What we are doing today is the exact opposite of this. There seems to be very little love in any of us.  How did we get into this state? But maybe more importantly how do we get out of it????

Pentagon Budget Increases…..

I wanted to put out a “aside” quick post to update one of my earlier posts about the Republican Budget that recently passed the house. Here are some words from a Sojourner email I just received.

Another week in Washington brought another week of attacks on the poor.

The immoral budget proposed by Rep. Paul Ryan called for billions of dollars in cuts to poverty programs like Medicaid, food stamps, and other programs that feed hungry Americans and help those in need.

But here’s the kicker: Ryan’s destructive plan would increase the already bloated military budget by 20%.

Cuts for the least of these. More money for bombs and guns. Sounds like a horrible plan, right? We think so. But the sad reality is that this budget actually passed in the House and was only narrowly defeated in the Senate.

Women try no-makeup experiment

Source: Naked face project: Women try no-makeup experiment – USATODAY.com.

For nearly 60 days, two women from Charlotte, N.C., have been doing something that many women say they could never do: leave the house without makeup

Given all the marketing that is targeted for women to paint their faces it is somewhat brave for these women to leave their homes without makeup on. Call me a yokel or whatever you want but I much prefer the natural beauty of women and believe that painting their faces is more distracting than anything else. I just can’t understand why women think they need to makeup? I have often heard that women wear make-up and such for other women.  I don’t know; I know they are not doing it for men like me.

I have always believed that women should have more say so in our society. They should be at the top level or more organizations.  I think the ideal department of defense secretary would be a woman. Women just seem to have more common sense and compassion than most men.  In this regard I believe they are hurting themselves more than helping their cause when they paint their faces. Another fad pushed on them by the marketing folks is to now wear six inch heels! It seems that everywhere you look on TV lately you will see women on their six inch stilts. Besides causing many bunion troubles later in life I can’t understand why anyone would wear such unnatural things.

To me a woman who lets her natural beauty show through is much more appealing. Why do women seem to just get in line for so many of these marketing fads?

But what do I know…..

I Love You All……

Everybody in America has been good to me and I love you all, even critics and Congressmen. – November 23, 1926  Will Rogers

I don’t believe that Will Rogers had any strong religious convictions. In that regard he is like most people today. But that does not mean he was without compassion. He was very much into it for the little guy especially during the depression years.

Maybe Will wasn’t a Christian but he lived out the command of Jesus Christ to love one another. He even included his critics and Congressmen!  This group is among the most unlovable but he loved them anyway. If only we could put aside our partisan viciousness for each other and follow Will’s example.

New form of Christian civic engagement

Source: New form of Christian civic engagement – USATODAY.com.

“We are seeing head-snapping generational change,” notes conservative columnist Michael Gerson. “The model of social engagement of the religious right is increasingly exhausted.”

Thank God. A distinctive way of being Christian in the public square — a softer, less partisan way — is emerging. And this cultural change could be the very thing our faith needs to survive.

This article is inspiring indeed!  Even when I used to call myself and Evangelical Christian I was totally embarrassed by the extreme political turmoil caused by the so called “Moral Majority”. Their morals were limited to pretty much hating everyone and everything they did not agree with.  They were one of the reasons I quit calling myself a Christian and moved to being a “follower of Jesus Christ”.  They had drifted so far eschew from the teachings of Jesus as to being almost the opposite of him. They become much more about “empire” than they were about the kingdom.

Jesus had only a few harsh words for anyone outside of the religious establishment, so it is heartening to see as the article says a “softer, less partisan way” is being practiced by the current crop of millennials.  According to almost all statistics church membership is drying up and will soon die off if nothing is done.  But real change cannot happen as long as the empire seeking judgmental voices are heard from the weekly pulpits.  I can only pray that this change mentioned in the article will eventually occur in the pulpits as well as the pews.

When all Christians go back to the words of Jesus and away from extreme partisan empire politics of today the pews begin to once again begin to fill up. But it will no happen before then. Some have shown that every five hundred years Christianity has had a major shake up to restore it to its roots. Many are saying that is what is happening right now with the “emergent” church movement.  I will have more to say about the emergent church in coming posts both here and in the RedLetterLiving blog…..

Outrageous Things

Old age is an excellent time for outrage. My goal is to say or do at least one outrageous thing every week  – Maggie Kuhn

I guess I am old at least as far as this saying goes. But it does seem as though when you get some years under your belt you have seen more of this world that warrants getting outraged about. Let’s face it most of us have seen some pretty stupid things in our lives.  We let our government spend our tax dollars for some pretty dreadful things like our obese military establishment while denying healthcare to many of our citizens and say nothing about it!

We, like Maggie Kuhn before us, should all be saying outrageous things when in comes to much of what is wrong with our society today and that includes our religious establishments.  We Christians claim to love God but then go on to totally ignore his very direct commands to love our neighbors. We would rather fixate on someone’s sex lives than concentrate on giving the poor kid down the block  a nourishing meal once in a while.  We would rather spend our church money building lavish clubhouses for ourselves rather than get out in the community and help those less fortunate than us and yes there are less fortunate are around any church in America. This I find outrageous and worth shouting about.

We all seem to praise our war makers and totally ignore our peacemakers. We do some pretty outrageous things in the name of patriotism. So yes I do believe that old age is an excellent time for outrage. I seem to have plenty of it lately and don’t mind spouting it off at least once every week.

About the Author: Maggie Kuhn was born in 1905 in Buffalo New York. I remember her best as being the founder of the Grey Panthers. She is one of my heroes. Here is what Wikipedia says about her Maggie Kuhn (August 3, 1905 – April 22, 1995) was an American activist known for founding the Gray Panthers movement in August 1970, after being forced into retirement by the Presbyterian Church. The Gray Panthers became known for advocating nursing home reform and fighting ageism, claiming that “old people and women constitute America’s biggest untapped and undervalued human energy source.” She also dedicated her life to fighting for human rights, social and economic justice, global peace, integration, and an understanding of mental health issues. For decades she combined her activism with caring for her disabled mother and a brother who suffered from mental illness.

Class Warfare….

The leaders in the Republican party are constantly complaining that the Democrats are trying to start a class war with all their comments about how the rich are getting a free ride in the U.S.  But what they don’t say is that they are doing what they accuse their opponents of but in a different area.  They are constantly trying to incite voters against the older generations saying that we have gobbled up all the resources and left the debt to others.

I hear comments on this blog and in almost daily news articles that seniors are gobbling up the healthcare dollars on themselves and there is very little left for others. That is simply pitting one group of citizens against another. In reality the U.S., if we follow the examples of the rest of the developed world, should be easily able to provide quality healthcare for all its citizens. There is no need to say if one group has healthcare then another can’t have it.  Beside being untrue it is very obnoxious.

But this is not the only place where my conservative friends seem to lack compassion. Their current budget that just passed the house reneges on the promise of 10% pentagon cuts because of the super committee’s failure to come to any agreements. Instead their budget shows no decease in military spending. They want to get the deficit under control by cutting spending on things like feeding poor kids a free breakfast so they can have at least one nourishing meal a day.  They want to cut spending on HeadStart which provides pre-school opportunities to kids of single parents below the poverty scale.  They want to cut food stamps to the poorest of the poor.

I simply cannot understand the process my conservative friends go through to justify these cuts in place of keeping their promise to reduce our extremely bloated military budgets. It is beyond my beliefs. If anything their budgets should justifiably incite a class warfare in this country. It seems the compassion for anything besides the super-rich and the military contractors is quickly disappearing from the Republican party and that is very depressing to me. I dream of the day when the voters will finally say “enough is enough” but I just don’t see that day coming anytime soon….