Orchids & Democracies

2018-04-08_15-31-46.pngThis being a primary election day here in Indiana, democracies are on my mind. Two of the most beautiful and delicate things in the world are orchids and democracies. They both need constant nurturing to thrive. An orchid needs the right light and temperature. It needs constant watering or it will die on the vine. The same thing is true for democracies.

Too many in this country seem to think that our democracy is as rugged as Rambo.  We can mistreat it and ignore it and it will always come fighting back.  If you want to see the fallacy of that belief just look around the world at various country’s attempts to maintain a democracy. The most obvious example right now is Russia.  When the iron curtain finally fell, Russia claimed that it would be a democracy. But that dream has pretty much been squashed.  One inept leader after another tried to make it so but since a former KGB agent took the helm, the idea of a Russian democracy pretty much has vanished.

Thomas Jefferson stated that an informed electorate is absolutely essential for a democracy to exist. Sadly, an informed electorate seems to have at least temporarily vanished from the American landscape. Too many latched on to one con-man or another with promises they can’t and don’t intend to keep. Too many of us are just too lazy to do the work to weed out the cons from the Patriots. We are currently living with the consequences of that most recent failure.

Being that so many still don’t seem to understand the threat is more evidence that we are not as stable as many believe. All of us need to get involved in caring for our delicate democracy.

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The Kingdom Of God… And Leo Tolstoy

I seem to be getting a bit of flack lately about my spiritual beliefs that run counter to most of the churches today. To help understand where I come from I am bringing back some quotes from Leo Tolstoy I used in 2012. They pretty much tell my story:

From: The Kingdom of God is Within You by Leo Tolstoy  1894 

2018-01-17_14-58-50.pngBut Christ could not have founded the Church, that is, what we now understand by that word. For nothing like the idea of the Church as we know it now, with its sacraments, miracles, and above all its claim to infallibility, is to be found either in Christ’s words or in the ideas of the men of that time. The fact that men called what was formed afterward by the same word as Christ used for something totally different, does not give them the right to assert that Christ founded the one, true Church. Besides, if Christ had really founded such an institution as the Church for the foundation of all his teaching and the whole faith, he would certainly have described this institution clearly and definitely, and would have given the only true Church, besides tales of miracles, which are used to support every kind of superstition, some tokens so unmistakable that no doubt of its genuineness could ever have arisen. But nothing of the sort was done by him. And there have been and still are different institutions, each calling itself the true Church…..

It is terrible to think what the churches do to men. But if one imagines oneself in the position of the men who constitute the Church, we see they could not act differently. The churches are placed in a dilemma: the Sermon on the Mount or the Nicene Creed–the one excludes the other. If a man sincerely believes in the Sermon on the Mount, the Nicene Creed must inevitably lose all meaning and significance for him, and the Church and its representatives together with it. If a man believes in the Nicene Creed, that is, in the Church, that is, in those who call themselves its representatives, the Sermon on the Mount becomes superfluous for him. And therefore the churches cannot but make every possible effort to obscure the meaning of the Sermon on the Mount, and to attract men to themselves. It is only due to the intense zeal of the churches in this direction that the influence of the churches has lasted hitherto.

Let the Church stop its work of hypnotizing the masses, and deceiving children even for the briefest interval of time, and men would begin to understand Christ’s teaching. But this understanding will be the end of the churches and all their influence. And therefore the churches will not for an instant relax their zeal in the business of hypnotizing grown-up people and deceiving children. This, then, is the work of the churches: to instill a false interpretation of Christ’s teaching into men, and to prevent a true interpretation of it for the majority of so- called believers.

Thomas Jefferson like Tolstoy created his own bible based almost totally on the words of Jesus. He also believed that Jesus came to earth with a clear message for us but after he left, men add a bunch of rules to make everything complicated. Both men attribute much of that to the Apostle Paul.  After diligently studying both men I have become aligned with them.  The Sermon on the Mount should be the primary thing that guides a Christian’s life, not a bunch of manmade rules.

Since God gave man free will, it is up to each of us to come to a personal understanding of him and for the things he wants us to accomplish while on this earth.

The Dreams Of The Future..

slice8.png   Thomas Jefferson is my favorite writer of all time.  He was not a good public speaker but he sure knew how to put pen to paper. He was also a very prolific writer. His archive spans thousands of letters and treatises about a wide variety of topics.  He loved studying history as his library showed but more so he loved dreaming of the future.

I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past. So good night! I will dream on.

Thomas Jefferson to John Adams August 1, 1816

Anyone who has been around RJsCorner know that I proudly share several of the traits above with Jefferson.  Because of my Aspergers traits I am not a good speaker. It just doesn’t come naturally to me. But I am constantly thinking and writing about what is on my mine.  I kind of let a milestone go by here in that I wrote my 3,000th post here a few months ago. I never dreamed I would occupy RJsCorner as long as I have! All my life, or at least since Mr. Shuler, my high school history teacher, got me hooked I have studied American history. Up until a few years ago the ten foot wide bookshelf here in my study was filled with history books, now I have many in e-book form on my Kindle reader.

canstockphoto22029090.jpgBut most of all I am a dreamer of the future. For that reason I refuse to believe that our current dark times are here to stay. Like so often in the past the sun will eventually come up again in America. We have many good days ahead of us. But to make that happen all of us not on the fringes of society need to take back our government processes via the vote. We can no longer allow the fringes, neither left nor right, to elect our leaders who will decide the direction we take. As being proved now, that is just too dangerous a scheme.

Most of the problems we face today including healthcare for all, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, full employment are very solvable problems once we break the gridlock that is preventing us for implementing the solutions. All we have to do is to get over our stubbornness of thinking we have to invent everything and then to look for shining examples from the rest of the world to see a path forward in these areas.

The future is bright indeed if only we take the steps necessary to make it happen.

Hope Is Sweeter Than Despair

My recently adopted theme for my life is Hope Is Sweeter Than Despair 

These words were written by Thomas Jefferson in one of his many letters written in 1786. That was ten years after our Declaration of Independence and three years after it was actually obtained by a bloody war.  Jefferson was in Paris at the time as one of our first ambassadors.  It would be another year before our Constitution was ratified and put into law.  The letter was basically a very long love letter to Maria Cosway but as is often the case it reflected the feelings of his soul.  Much of the letter was written around the idea that the heart says one thing while the head says another.

I take heart in those words as they relate to our current circumstances. There are many around our country today who despair of the current times. There is a totally unqualified person in the Oval Office, a Congress has been  stuck in a total gridlock mode for several years, and so many have almost given up any hope that things can and will get better.

canstockphoto10092654.jpgBut to me “Hope is sweeter than despair”. I simply can’t live with the possibility of today becoming the new norm for our country.  When one of my fellow bloggers who I probably admire the most proclaims that “Empathy is dead in our government” it shocked me to no end. This person is usually a very upbeat soul who blogs that anyone can have a happy and satisfying retirement and then helps us to understand how to make that happen. He is now basically saying that we are all on our own as the future will be “survival of the fittest” so you have to take care of yourself.

A world without empathy is not a world I care to live in and since I don’t plan on going anywhere else for the immediate future I refuse to fret about that possibility.  I will cling to my hope that these times are an anomaly that will soon fail under its own weight. To relate that belief I will start blogging here about how we have faced dark periods in our past as a country and managed to survive them.  I will humbly try to give my readers hope to replace the despair in their lives. Yes, things are bad now but they have been bad in the past and we survived them and we will survive these current times and have much better times ahead.

An Ounce Of Empathy & Two Ounces Of Brains

I am a dreamer, always have been and always will be.  When times are bad I dream of better times. When times are good I thank the Lord. I have always dreamed that every citizen of our country has at least an ounce of empathy and two ounces of brains.  I have come to doubt that belief, especially since the person in the Oval Office doesn’t even seem to pass the bill.  I guess this particular dream will have to wait a while before it can be realized.

canstockphoto18418248.jpgNow don’t misunderstand me, I don’t expect everyone to be overflowing with empathy, but another way to describe it is “brother’s keeper” and since that is a Christian term coming from the mouth of its founder I would hope that all of us who call ourselves Christians strive to get a little more empathy each day. But sadly then I see so many so-called Evangelicals who seem to be totally ignorant of caring for others and that is almost devastating.

canstockphoto5430637As far as brains are concerned I am talking about intelligence, not particularly the amount of grey matter you have. Where intelligence is concerned I follow another axiom and that is “If you don’t use it you lose it”. Each one of us should strive to become just a little more intelligent today than we were yesterday. But then I see so many of us who seemed to be ignorant on just how flawed the person is who they voted for president it dashes my dream in this area also.  With a minimal amount of study it was obvious to me just how deficient the one who they voted for was from the get go. How could so many be confused about what was totally obvious to the rest of us?

As a final thought, maybe even those born in the country need to pass a test to be citizens. As Thomas Jefferson said a democracy cannot succeed without an informed electorate.  I don’t enjoy saying “I TOLD YOU SO” after only 1/8 of his time in office but I told you so.

 

 

Staying Too Long..

2011 12239.JPGI don’t know how many readers ever look at the quotes I rotate through the header of RJsCorner. I try to change them weekly but sometimes that task falls in the proverbial crack.  In the current header is a quote from Thomas Jefferson about staying too long that seems especially relative to the folks in Washington DC.

Too many in our national congress have overstayed their time there, especially in the leadership roles. I truly believe that the GOP leader in the senate is one of the basic problems with that institution’s gridlock. What will it take short of death to cause a shift in leadership?

Yes, I do believe that wisdom comes with age but there needs to be a time when even the wise turn it over to someone more youthful. Someone who agewise more closely represents their electorate.  After spending decades in congress it is inevitable that scars are formed from the battles that take place in those houses.  I think most who initially go there have noble but probably naive purposes. They want to do right and make things better for their constituents.

Speaking of Mr. McConnell in particular he seems to be the most scarred. He has spent so much time in the last seven years trying his best, or maybe I should say worst, trying to defeat anything the first black president might have accomplished. The epitome of that was to destroy the American Care Act. I’m sure this last defeat in that area will not be the final time he tries to take away healthcare to millions of us primarily due to his spite for the previous Oval Office Holder and the party he belonged to.

I’m sure the GOP thinks the same thing about Mrs. Pelosi as I do about Mr. McConnell. She has stayed too long and has too many scars herself.  To a degree I agree with them. I’m not saying that “fresh blood” is the total answer to gridlock. Ted Cruz and those like him are as toxic as anyone there.

I guess it takes a big ego to even think about being in politics today. Of course that is especially true of the current person sitting in the Oval Office.