Wallace Idaho

Wallace Idaho – Silver City

Wallace Idaho is a small town in the upper skinny part of Idaho. It has less than a thousand people but a thriving downtown district. It was known as the Silver Capital of the country in its day. We spent some time there during our sojourn west in 2009.

Intolerance…

2014-12-12_09-13-53“Now which is the narrowest, religious intolerance or political intolerance?” – Will Rogers, 20 April 1927

I have been pondering that question for some time now myself Will. We all know that so much of politics, particularly the GOP brand,  is primarily driven by fear. The politicians want people fearful of their opponents winning over them. They keep our military budgets at absurd levels by keeping us fearful that if we reduce that grotesque   spending on our war machine terrorists will flood our shores.

But then again isn’t religious intolerance the reason for the majority of the world’s wars? We religious people seem to allow our extremists to tell us who is our enemy. Right now some of those jihadists nuts say that anyone who is not a Muslim simply need to be eliminated. They threaten, and sometimes even carry out that threat to a minute degree.  It amazes me how the vast majority of any religion, but particularly the muslims, doesn’t reign in the rouges among them. They seem to let the extremists talk for them?

Yeah Will,it would go a long way toward world peace, and everyone just getting along if we had a little less of both religious and political intolerance. Which one is worse I just don’t know…. and I don’t think I will ever figure that one out…

Please make the dumb people stop talking!!!

2014-09-15_20-26-03I mean really, tell me again how people having access to health insurance is bad. Remind me again how the earth is invincible to mankind’s abuse. Explain to me why women don’t know what’s best for their own body. Why is it we need more guns again? I’ll be better off if we lower taxes on the rich? Please make the dumb people stop talking!!!

SOURCE:  Living Blue in a Red State.

I usually look at Facebook each morning when I do my Web browsing and “Living Blue in a Red State” is part of that. I love this one.  It puts so many from the GOP into a simple fifty or so word basket. I couldn’t have said it better so I will stop talking now….

The Home of….

Sketched MV

If any photo should be in a charcoal line type it is probably this one. I’ll give you a hint, It was the back side of our first presidents home. I last visited there in 2011. He unlike most politicians today was always anxious to get out of office and return home….

The one word I would use to describe this pic is:

 stately

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Youngstown History…

Youngstown, OH – The Mill

Steel mills were an important part of the Industrial Age of a century ago and Youngstown was very much a part of the legacy. If you are ever in the area I would highly encourage you to spend some time touring this facility. It tells a story of a very important part of the heart of America…

What Wealth Does To Your Soul – Part 2

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With this post I will conclude my discussion about what might make the wealthy among us seem so callous to others needs. The source for these posts came as a surprise to me. Here is some more quotes from that article.

A UCLA neuroscientist named Keely Muscatell has published an interesting paper showing that wealth quiets the nerves in the brain associated with empathy: If you show rich people and poor people pictures of kids with cancer, the poor people’s brains exhibit a great deal more activity than the rich people’s. (An inability to empathize with others has just got to be a disadvantage for any rich person seeking political office, at least outside of New York City.) “As you move up the class ladder,” says Keltner, “you are more likely to violate the rules of the road, to lie, to cheat, to take candy from kids, to shoplift, and to be tightfisted in giving to others. Straightforward economic analyses have trouble making sense of this pattern of results.”… THERE IS AN OBVIOUS chicken-and-egg question to ask here. But it is beginning to seem that the problem isn’t that the kind of people who wind up on the pleasant side of inequality suffer from some moral disability that gives them a market edge. The problem is caused by the inequality itself: It triggers a chemical reaction in the privileged few. It tilts their brains. It causes them to be less likely to care about anyone but themselves or to experience the moral sentiments needed to be a decent citizen…. There is a growing awareness that the yawning gap between rich and poor is no longer a matter of simple justice but also the enemy of economic success and human happiness. It’s not just bad for the poor. It’s also bad for the rich. It’s funny, when you think about it, how many rich people don’t know this. But they are not idiots; they can learn. SOURCE:What wealth does to your soul – The Week.

I’m still not convinced that the lack of empathy is a result of a chemical change in the brain but it is interesting to think about that possibility. What happens if the rich person looses all his wealth? Will empathy come back? I kind of believe that it is more of a learned thing or maybe one of a rationalization based on greed. Yeah this is kind of chicken/egg thing. Which came first the riches or the lack of empathy?

My empathy is such an important part of my life I can’t imagine someone who doesn’t embrace it in themselves. It just seems too cold and callous to think only of yourself. To me that wouldn’t be a life worth living.

The gap between the rich and the poor grows daily now and since the rich have consumed almost all of the political and economic power it will only get worse unless something radical changes it. Wall Street is driven almost totally to providing profits to their share owners. There is little regard for workers in today’s world. As the highlighted area says I don’t think the rich are idiots but I can’t fathom why they don’t understand that when you put a stranglehold on consumers by not letting them share in the prosperity you endear you are drying up the well that give you your wealth.

Steel Mills..

Youngstown, OH – Steel Town

Let’s spend this week on ISOA looking at one historical center. This is a picture of a picture found in the Youngstown Historical Center of the conditions in the shantytowns that were close to almost any steel mill of a century ago. I can’t imagine having to live in such filthy conditions.

What wealth does to your soul

One thing that has struck me and so many others as a very deadly thing to our country is the growing disparity between the rich and the poor. Another is how many in the rich category seem to be uncaring and even callous to those who don’t have the luxury that they have.

That fact struck me at a personal level when we were recently on a visit with some relatives. I know the age old mantra to not discuss religion or politics at family get-togethers but sometimes we foolishly ignore that advice. During some discussions with a niece the rich/poor gap came up. She basically started railing about all “those” people who are milking the welfare system. She seemed to totally reject the idea that not everyone who needs help are freeloaders.  My niece has a pretty good job that supports her husband and child with many luxuries in life. She is by no means rich but she also doesn’t have to worry much about day-to-day expenses. So when recently I came across this article it got my immediate attention. Here are some snippets:

2015-01-02_09-01-08WHAT IS CLEAR about rich people and their money — and becoming ever clearer — is how it changes them. A body of quirky but persuasive research has sought to understand the effects of wealth and privilege on human behavior — and any future book about the nature of billionaires would do well to consult it… The people driving expensive cars were four times more likely to cut in front of other drivers than drivers of cheap cars. The researchers then followed the drivers to the city’s crosswalks and positioned themselves as pedestrians, waiting to cross the street. The drivers in the cheap cars all respected the pedestrians’ right of way. The drivers in the expensive cars ignored the pedestrians 46.2 percent of the time — a finding that was replicated in spirit by another team of researchers in Manhattan, who found drivers of expensive cars were far more likely to double-park… There is plenty more like this to be found, if you look for it. A team of researchers at the New York State Psychiatric Institute surveyed 43,000 Americans and found that, by some wide margin, the rich were more likely to shoplift than the poor. Another study, by a coalition of nonprofits called the Independent Sector, revealed that people with incomes below 25 grand give away, on average, 4.2 percent of their income, while those earning more than 150 grand a year give away only 2.7 percent. 

SOURCE:What wealth does to your soul – The Week.

The behavior exhibited by my niece is what I call “I’ve Got Mine So Screw You”. There are many people who just don’t seem to care about those who are much worse off than they are. I guess it didn’t surprise me too much that those same people are more likely to treat others in a subservient manner. They are also likely to keep more for themselves than to give to others.  They are simply the Takers instead of the Givers…

On the next post we will delve into some of the surprising findings of just why this trait is applicable to so many of the “better offs” among us. I want to close here by narrowing my brush and say that not all who are wealthy are greedy, careless people. Many give very much of themselves and their money…

Gridlock Busters…The Genesis…

Slice 1Gridlock seems to be endemic within our political system here in the U.S. for decades now but never so much as it is today. Those guys in Washington just can’t get along no matter what the circumstances are.  The solution to this problem seems insurmountable using any conventional wisdom of the day.

So it is time to attack the problem with some “off-the-wall” thinking. If RJsCorner is anything it is about off-the-wall thinking, it is about viewing things for a different angle. So why not tackle this issue head-on. Why not be a “Fixer” at least in a metaphorical sense? Someone has to do it, why not me? Let me put on my gridlock buster suit and jump in…

But before I do that I will admit that this whole series will be pretty much tongue-in-cheek. I know that I don’t have much power when it comes to national, state, local, or even household issues but that doesn’t stop me from having opinions.  We all have great personal expectations on what we will contribute to the world. So, the fool that I am, I will rush in with ideas to solve this issue in upcoming posts.

Starting out, I don’t think gridlock has a silver bullet solution.  I know my GOP friends think the solution is really simple and that is for everyone just  join the Republican party. But I kind of think it will take a multi-faceted solution.  Sorry, but everybody joining the Republican party is just not an answer. Actually I think that mentality is a big part of the problem. 😉

I have been working kind of hard to come up with an appropriate logo for this endeavor. After all in today’s world appearances are everything so it is important to get it correct up front. The logo above seems to fit the bill. One guy with a sledge-hammer attacking a gigantic brick wall seems to describe what I am trying to do except I can’t actually put up the real size of the wall on this post. It just isn’t remotely big enough. If you see some similarity between this logo and a thirty year old movie it is intentional. There needs to be an army of gridlock busters out there to take down this wall. It’s too big for even me.

Keep an eye out in the coming days to see the first few possible solutions to this mess we are in and feel free to join the club and chime in wherever you think you can contribute….

Cows, Cheese, Brats &….

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Northern Wisconsin – Cows

Of course farming and dairy are very much a part of the heart of America. What State do you think of when you see cows?  Usually, except for my west coast friends, it is Wisconsin. My wife was born there so we return often. She recently got a refrigerator magnet there that proclaimed that Wisconsin is Cows, Cheese, Brats, & Beer. That isn’t very far off the mark for how I see it…

Cows, Cheese, Brats &….

Wisconsin Cows-1

Northern Wisconsin – Cows

Of course farming and dairy are very much a part of the heart of America. What State do you think of when you see cows?  Usually, except for my west coast friends, it is Wisconsin. My wife was born there so we return often. She recently got a refrigerator magnet there that proclaimed that Wisconsin is Cows, Cheese, Brats, & Beer. That isn’t very far off the mark for how I see it…

Conformity… In The Name of God??

I am going to spend the next few Sundays re-blogging some posts from my now inactive blog over at RedLetterLiving.net. I spent over five years there working through my faith journey.  I didn’t know it at the time but this was the last post I made there in April of last year. I think it is worth a second look as something encouraging in Christ’s church:

 

I’ve seen the light go out in people’s eyes when they decide it’s safer to embrace a doctrine or a policy that their gut tells them is wrong than it is to challenge those who say it’s right. I’ve watched open minds close and tender hearts harden. I’ve seen people pretend to believe things they don’t actually believe and do things they don’t actually want to do, all in the name of conformity to God’s will, all in the name of sacrifice and submission. Fundamentalism erases people. It erases their joy, their compassion, their instincts, their curiosity, their passion, their selves. And then it celebrates this ghosting, this nulling and numbing, as a glorious “dying to the self,” just like Jesus demanded. SOURCE: Hearts of Flesh.

These are some powerful words from Rachel Held Evans who is a young and popular Christian author and lecturer. She seldom parses words when it comes to her spirituality.  She also seems to be very aligned with the latest statistics of the Millennial generation when it comes to shedding much of the dogma of the current “church”.

I truly believe that the conformity that many churches demand is a primary factor for why even those raised in it are leaving in droves. They see things that directly contradict what they believe to be simple knowledge. They see their church speaking so viciously about those who are different from them.  What they see is not “conformity to God’s will” but to hardened hearts.  They see a fixated emphasis on below the belt issues when Jesus said almost nothing about that topic.

Young people, or at least many young people, are still in the mode of questioning things. They are still forming their own personal opinions on what will be important in their coming life. They will not allow someone to tell them what is moral when it is obviously not to them.

During my lifetime fundamentalism, even though it started with trying to bring the message of Jesus Christ to the world, has for the most part morphed into something completely different. It is now primarily about what you are supposed to hate rather than what Jesus told you to love. It has become the dark side of Christianity in many respects.

2014-03-25_16-33-02It is encouraging to see that the force is no longer with the fundamentalists but instead beginning to meld into what is now called the Great Emergence as described by Harvey Cox in his book entitled The Future Of Faith.  As explained in the book the emergent church is more about moving on to the next stage of Christianity rather than tearing down the current one. It is about shedding all those man-made rules and replacing them with the messages of Jesus its founder. If you are becoming discouraged with the direction that many in the church are taking maybe it is time you took up the book and read it with an open mind. It just might just change your idea of some of the basic things you are told you must believe in order to see God.

Boys Town…

Omaha, NB – Boys Town

Boys Town in Omaha is very much a part of the heart of America.  They have been helping poor kids for more than a hundred years now. This pic was taken at a display in their visitors center. Wouldn’t it be interesting to hear some of the stories that they young folks told in their later years.