For Good Men To Do Nothing..

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.

Edmund Burke

slice8  I don’t necessarily call, at least yet, our current times evil but none the less the Edmund Burke quote above applies to where we are as a country. Too many of us decided to sit out the last election cycle and what we got is the result.  I certainly hope that this is a lesson learned and election participation increases dramatically in the coming years. We can no longer allow a radical fringe minority to choose our country’s leadership.

Good men doing nothing is basically the cause for much of the evil in the past. Hitler’s rise to power is a result of  Germans thinking that he will go away on his own.  But the stronger he got the less able they were to do anything about it.  I know many in that period who supported him say they were just stuck in the times but to me that is a pretty lame excuse much the same as those who now lament that they pulled the GOP lever the last time around.

How could people just ignore the fact that Hitler was exterminating millions in gas chambers in their backyard!! How could they do nothing!! But, there is a different lesson learned from those times and that is that we as a world have been in much deeper straights than we are presently. There are too many today who seemingly have given up that times will be better.  They have given up hope that we will continue striving to be a “Brother’s keeper” nation as Jesus demanded of us.  All we need to do is to look back at those times and then look to where Germany is today.  They are now the Europe’s leader and may someday be the world leader.

Don’t give up hope that things will get better. Instead as good men and women, rise up and do something about it. I will bookend this post with another famous quote and this one is from Gandhi.

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Making Sense of Change…

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When I came across the quote above I knew nothing of Alan W. Watts.  But, as usual I got on Wiki to learn more. This guy was quite a character in life.  It just seemed that once he was doing something for any extended period of time he got bored with it an moved on to something else. It seems he re-invented himself a dozen times in his 58 years of life.

Here is a quote from one of the reviewers of his autobiography In My Own Way on Amazon.

Early on, he set out to be an independent intellectual, constantly learning and living in his “own way.” He succeeded, in spite of the odds, on the terms that he set out for himself. This was deeply inspiring to me, and it turned out that despite the surface differences of interest, Alan Watts had a lot to say about the choices one makes in life and how to go about living.

I like to think of myself, rightly or not that I am also an independent intellectual who likes to live life on my own terms. But my life is nothing like his.  I spent thirty years in the corporate world as an engineer. I just didn’t have the courage to admit that I probably should have chosen another path.  By the time I realized that fact I deemed it too late to do anything about it.  I was happy to just serve out my time until I could draw a full pension (yeah I actually get a monthly check from my previous employer).  It was not until I walked away from that life that I discovered my true self.

The term retirement is to me an archaic word that doesn’t really apply to the third trimester of life. This period is more about opportunities than retiring from life.  As I just said I like to think of myself  living my “own way” but I was a late-bloomer in that regard.  I have a lot of catching up to do. 🙂  I have been in this mode for over fifteen years now and having a ball!

Living your “own way” meaning no longer just going with the flow.  It means taking the time to form your own opinions and then acting on them. No more just sitting back and whining. It often means going against the grain of other people’s norms. Living blue in a very red State I feel I am often going against the grain:

  • Where so much of our world, and especially our country, is living in fear I am stubbornly try to do the opposite. I will simply not give these terrorists the satisfaction of being afraid.
  • I see love where others, including my previous self, often see fear and sometimes even hate.
  • I see the words of Jesus as an action item list for my life and not just something that I hear in a pew on Sunday morning and then forget for the rest of the week.

Living your “own way” is not easy sometimes but it sure does give you more satisfaction…

I have an Alan Watts book now on my reading list. It will be interesting to learn more about him and probably myself in the process.

 

The 25%….

While 80 percent of mainline Protestant pastors see Pope Francis as a true Christian, only 58 percent of evangelical preachers agree.

Source: Do Pastors Trust Pope Francis on Theology? New Survey Reveals How Preachers Responded When Asked if the Pontiff Is a True Christian | TheBlaze.com

I am going to use the polling above as an example for this post but not its focus.  There just seems to be about 25% of the population on the extreme right fringes in the U.S. that are pretty much distrustful of everything and everyone else. It seems that they almost hate the other 75%.  Maybe they are just so stricken with fear that everyone is suspect of something they deem bad. They hate the change that is happening around them daily, especially when more potential adversaries are allowed to invade “their” country. I wonder just how many of this 25% are the same people in all the various scenarios? I imagine that the core is pretty high.

In poll shown above from evangelical pastors about 25% of them don’t think the Pope is a genuine Christian. They view him as either the anti-Christ or hopefully something a little less hateful. I know that there are several christian denominations who despise the leader of the Catholic church no matter who he is. I’m sure a large part of this negative response is from those particular groups.

What can we do to help this 25% of our population get over their fear of change and  almost everything else? That seems to be the fundamental question at hand.

  • Is there a way to convince them that change is not their bitter enemy?
  • Is there a way to show them that their “good old days” were not as good as they now imagine?
  • Is there a way to get them to love their neighbors, even those who might not be like them?
  • Is there a way to convince them that the money they pay in taxes is necessary in order to maintain an orderly and civil society?
  • Is there a way to get them to see that the income inequality occurring today is hurting our country?
  • Is there a way to get them to see a brighter future?
  • Is there a way to get the religious among them to see that their version is not totally right and all the others totally wrong?
  • Finally, is there a way to get them to be less fearful of almost everything?

This is a serious list of issues that plague too many in our country and will likely take years to even begin to improve. Until that time it is up to the rest of us to not allow this relatively small minority to take us down with their negative beliefs.  We need to understand and even empathize with their fears no matter how unreal they are but not be overcome by them.

I am That Wise Guy

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Some Resist Change; Some Embrace It….

2014-11-15_07-37-53“Quite frankly, a lot of it has to do with the strength of the Apple brand and how much merchants and customers love how easy the experience is. I’m not saying it’s changing the landscape overnight. But this has never happened with other mobile wallets.”-Denée Carrington, analyst, Forrester Research SOURCE: Apple Pay catches the attention of retail customers.

I have been personally reminded lately of just how adamantly some people resist change while others embrace it.  Some don’t accept even the simplest changes in their lives without serious complaints. The smallest changes can set them off.  And then there are others who are bored when nothing changes on a regular basis. They welcome change; they even embrace it.

Apple Pay will be one of those issues. It is a much simpler and more secure way of paying but it does require a change in how we do it. For that reason there will be some who rant against it. Apple Pay is just getting started down a long road of implementation. Only iPhone6 currently has the capability of using it so its coverage is somewhat limited right now. But as more and more people upgrade and more discover the ease of use of iPhones this payment method will move swiftly into the main stream.

I upgraded my iPhone last week. I had been using an iPhone 4 for three years now and was ready for the change. The new phone has some nice new features and some added capabilities for those of us who are deaf and the bigger screen is certainly welcomed for these old tired eyes. 🙂  One of the first things I did was to set up an Apple Pay account. Although I have not yet used it, it is ready to go.  I live in a small town with about the only retailer of any size being Walmart and since they are one of the ones who are currently resisting the change it might be a while before I use it on a daily basis.

The system Walmart and some others are promoting is better for the companies but not so much the customers so I kind of think  it will go the way of Betamax. For those of you who don’t know about Betamax look it up on Wiki. 🙂

Getting back to the title of this post, change is a serious topic for some of us. New technology by its very nature mandates constant change. Some, including me, consider that a good thing. There will always be that group of people who will continue to use their old flip phones if they even have a cell phone. Change is just so hard for them. That may also explain why some of us continue to support one political party who has abandoned anything helpful to us who are outside the 1% long ago. They hate change so they will stick with something even if it is more harmful than helpful. Change is hard stuff…

I Can't Do It For Them….

2014-11-06_09-28-42This is going to be an extremely soul-searching post for me. It has been a week since the GOP route in the mid-term elections and I have been thinking about my philosophical and political leanings. Two things seem now apparent to me that were not so just a few short months ago.

The first epiphany  is that I am not so much a Democrat as I am anti-Republican. There is just too much weight amongst the current Republican party in favor of the elite and so little for the average guy and almost nothing for the guy down on his luck. In my mind too many who currently represent the party believe in the mantra “I’ve got mine so screw you”. They seem to think that if you can’t do what they did then it is your own fault. Too many, like Mr. Ryan of Wisconsin, just have no empathy for others..

The Republican brand is quite simply tainted too much for me. I call myself a social progressive and a fiscal conservative. If only the Republican party would stick to their strengths of being a watchdog of the purse and get away from trying to enforce, or you could say mandate, various versions of 19th century morals on the rest of us. By the same token if only the Democratic party would get over the idea that throwing money at any situation will solve it.

The second epiphany is that I have come to understand that “I can’t do it for them”. That is I can’t help people who won’t help themselves. The majority of those who bothered to get out and vote recently were old and white like me. The young, the disenfranchised, the guy working one or maybe minimum wage job stayed home. He/she didn’t see it worth their time to make an effort to vote for the change makers.

I am probably a typical “bleeding heart liberal” in that most of the change I would like to see in this country would not affect me very much:

I want to see everyone have healthcare while I currently have very good coverage via Medicare and an affordable supplemental policy.

I want to see everyone who works full-time be paid a living wage while I am fortunate enough to have Social Security, a good pension from thirty years with the same company, and a savings account beyond most my age.

I want to see a strong safety net under those who might fall on hard times. I want to see that their families don’t get severely punished for something they had no control over while I, at least in my adult life, have never needed a safety net.

I just overflow with empathy for others where it seems most in this country are more into the survival of the fittest mode. Maybe empathy is a condition I need to overcome, I don’t know. I’m sure that many that I advocate for think they are helpless in changing things. They just can’t seem to realize that in the end their vote  has as much weight as the billionaires who they presently allow to control the money.

Maybe it is time for me to get off my empathy horse and not worry about all this stuff so much. I simply don’t know the answer to that right now. I imagine I have about one more decade on this earth. Maybe I should spend it differently than I have been up till now?

But I’m just a simple guy so what do I know….

 

A Change In Direction…

Different PathI have not looked at any politics of the day for more than a week now. I have even reconfigured my daily internet reading to remove politics as a point of focus. That alone has helped to significantly brighten my general attitude toward daily living.  To complete this refocus I have decided to take the blog in a slightly different direction. I will no longer be talking much about the politics of the day but will instead be concentrating more on things more positive.  Things like what makes us who we are, and of course a usual dosage of Will Rogers and other memorable quotes will be more prominent.  We will see how this goes.

Another change is that I will no longer feel obliged to acknowledge or discuss every comment that comes into the blog. Many comments you make can certainly stand on their own and some others are probably best left untouched for other reasons.  Now don’t get me wrong I appreciate your thoughts and insights. They certainly add value to the discussions so please don’t see my lack of response as a negative.

I hope you will hang around for this repurposed journey. From looking at statistics of individual posts I know that focusing less on politics and its resulting conflicts will cost me some general blog hits but that is ok.  I need to get off any fixation that still might linger for that anyway. As my header says, I will now be looking more at the other 99% of life “from a different angle”.

But just because I will not be discussing the politics of the day so much does not mean that I won’t talk about some of the people who choose to be our public servants.  When it comes to politics in general instead of focusing on what is happening I will focus on what might be. I will try for the most part to keep the focus about positives instead of negatives. I will talk about what inspires me instead of what depresses me. As the old saying goes if I can’t find anything positive to say I will try to not say anything at all.  That means you won’t find the words “GOP” or “Republican” in very many of my future posts. In my mind there is just not much positive that can currently be said about that group… 🙂

I don’t know what level of political discussions is best right now. I will have to see how this goes.  I would certainly welcome your opinions on this new approach to RJ’s Corner. It will be a delicate balancing act to post things that are relevant to our lives without becoming a fluffy feel good site; there is nothing fluffy about me….

I hope you enjoy this new path as much as I think I will. After visiting RJ’s Corner in the coming days you will at least go away no more gloomy than before you visited. That promise I will try to keep with every future post.

The American Dream… Revisited….

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HomeI am going to tell you up front that this post is a little whacky but then again that is the type of person I am.   I am always asking questions as to why things are the way they are. This idea is a paradigm shift that very likely will never happen.

The twentieth century American dream was always  about home ownership. We all dreamed of putting down a small deposit on  our own place and then paying a mortgage on it for the next thirty some years until it is finally ours.  The problem with that nowadays is that we find ourselves changing jobs every half dozen years or sometimes more often and those future jobs are likely not be in the area where we currently live. When that is the case then home ownership is more of an anchor than a blessing. Read more

The Passing of an Era…..

Source: AT&T sheds directories, advertising business | Mobile – CNET News.

The assets that AT&T is selling include the Yellow Pages directories…

Things are in constant change now days. Sometime the pace is dizzying indeed.  Of course telecommunications is one of those things that is probably changing the fastest.

  • In the 1960s you could find a public telephone booth on almost any city street.
  • In the 1970s the Trimline telephone was being made at a rate of one million a week. Picture phones were available but at a $2,000 per month rate.
  • In the 1980s almost every household finally had a landline telephone and a very few had a “mobile” telephone which at time cost around $300 per month.
  • In the 1990s  cordless phones were replacing the corded version in the typical American home and cellular service was just beginning.
  • By 2000 cellular phones were becoming common place.
  • By 2020 it is speculated that the country will be pretty much converted from landline to completely cellular service.

So I guess AT&T giving up its Yellow Pages is just a minor nick in the change but it just won’t seem the same without “letting my fingers walk through the Yellow Pages. 🙂   But then again, I don’t think I have opened last years version of the Yellow Pages. I now look up everything on the Internet.

Goodbye my Yellow Pages friend. You served me well but your time  like so many things now days has come to an end.

The U.S. Postal Service Nears Collapse – BusinessWeek

Source: The U.S. Postal Service Nears Collapse – BusinessWeek.

Too bad the person who wrote this article didn’t snail mail it to everyone. It is seven pages long so it would have brought in big bucks to the USPS. 🙂 Seriously though (at least as serious as I get on this blog) the postal service is in pretty deep trouble and it is not going to go away. I am usually pretty tolerant of government agencies but this one needs to reign back its scale and look to other ways to provide its services.

There are just too many post offices around that do little or no business. As I mentioned before there is a post office in a little town near us where it is now the only business in a town of about two dozen houses.  Most small town post offices could easily be incorporated into some existing businesses such as the local thrift/gas store. I can remember when I was a kid that the post office was in the local food store.  As the article mentions the USPS now handles more junk mail than first class and that will continue to be a downward trend for them. I like almost everyone else pay most of my bills on-line now and of course those personal letters to past family and friends has long since been replaced by email, Facebook, and other such services.  I can see the time in the not too distant future where first class mail, like buggy whips, will basically cease to exist being totally replaced by its electronic cousin. About the only thing that is keeping that from happening today is the lack of adequate Internet connections to those of us who live in rural America.

This is yet another instance where we can learn from our neighbors around the world. As mentioned in the above article most of the European postal systems have already morphed into quite different services. Many are quite profitable and something we could easily mirror here in the U.S.  One of the basic problems with our current system is the postal union seems to be against any significant change. I am definitely a person who believes in workers being collectively represented but that does not mean they must resist change, even changes that will reduce their ranks, when it is obvious that is what is needed.  I know we need more middle class jobs here in the U.S. but stubbornly hanging on to ones that have outlived their usefulness is not the answer to this problem.

But what do I know….