Over The Hill…


Will Rogers BookmarkBeing over the hill is probably the most often used phrase for getting older. When you turn forty, at least for my generation, you were considered over the hill. My hero Will Rogers certainly was an inventive guy. The way he looked at life such as the words above is what inspires me.

I have never really thought about it much, but I never did get the feeling that I was on top the hill.  My life has just been happening day-to-day.  Uphill-downhill seemed more like potholes in life. When I finally reached retirement, or should I say when it reached me, I knew my life was on a downhill glide but it was a pleasant glide and it was high enough to say out of the gutter.

In fact, the downhill side of life has proven to be more enjoyable and fulfilling than the other side of the slope.  You could never have convinced me of that in those uphill years.  My main negative about being over the hill is my loss of stamina and strength. I know that is something I could do more to partially alleviate but don’t choose to use much of the time I have left to do that.  I can’t lift up a 40-pound birdseed bags anymore with some serious grunting but that is OK.

Being over the hill is kind of peaceful. You don’t have to worry about competing with anyone.  Instead, you can just enjoy life. That is a great place to be 🙂

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Why Unconditional Support??

Something that has always been unfathomable to me is the U.S. unconditional support of the state of Israel. Why do we continue to throw billions of dollars of our borrowed resources into that country year after year when in reality they almost never heed any of our advice. A two  State solution with the Palestinians is the most obvious workable solution to this decades going Middle East stuff and that seems to be something that Israel, or at least their current leader is adamantly against.

Because of our billions of dollars of annual support Israel is by far the superpower in the Middle East so I guess they think they can bully their way into whatever they want.  I know there is a strong biblical connection between Israel and Christians; is that the primary reason we don’t chastise them for anything they do and we will not allow others in the U.N. to do it either?  I also know that the Jewish lobby in this country is much more powerful than the 1% of the population they represent; is that why we give them unconditional support?

I also know Jerusalem is at the center for all three major religions in this present world  and wars have been started throughout history for control of it.  Maybe it is time to make it an international city open to all. If only the United Nations were able to accomplish that.  Another much more radical solution is to just let Israel and Iran go at it!  If they use nuclear weapons that would make that entire portion of the world uninhabitable for the next 100 years.  That is kind of the King Solomon solution isn’t it.

I just don’t know why we don’t tell them that our support has conditions. It makes no sense to me. They are not our children, they don’t need or deserve our unconditional support…

Pleasant Hill — Revisited (again_

Just outside of Lexington Kentucky is my favorite historical village called “Pleasant Hill Shaker Village”.  I simply can’t get enough of that place. Whenever I start feeling tension for whatever reason I think of escaping there for a few days. I think I have been there about a half a dozen times now but have really lost count. Staying in the actual rooms where Shakers lived is a fantastic feeling. I almost sense their presence there.

Shaker Hill brings out my creative juices. I have probably taken 500 pictures there but every time I go I find another undiscovered place that inspires me.  The last time I was there was in 2011 and took these pictures. I will have to go again some time soon.

Click on any of the pictures above to see a larger slideshow view…


The New GOP…


QE BannerFor those of you who haven’t visited here much I will state up front that while I am very much a social progressive but I am also a fiscal conservative. I too think as indicated in this editorial cartoon by Jack Ohman “where did the Republican party go?” They once were the party of small government and keeping expenses under control.  During those days I voted Republican about as often as I voted Democrat. But those days now seem to be a distant memory.

  • The new GOP seems to be made up of screamers who want infinite military budgets so that can go after the “bad guys” wherever they can find them.
  • They ignore thousands of needless deaths in order to justify their unlimited quest for the next gun.
  • They say they are pro-life but don’t want to provide easy access to contraceptives to prevent unwanted births.
  • Instead of providing mental health facilities and other social services they also seem to want to imprison everyone who might frighten them.
  • They have mountainous fear and very little empathy or trust.

It saddens me to see the party taken over by what was once its radical fringe. I pray that those who are on the drum beat to another war give peace chance with the Iran situation.

Question everything….

Wanting a Gun….

2014-10-16_07-36-09“They want Peace, but they want a Gun to help get it with.” – Will Rogers, 9 February 1930

Yeah Will, nothing has changed much in this area since your day.  About the only thing different is that we have MUCH bigger guns now. It goes back to the old quote “If all you have is a hammer everything looks like a nail”. I love this country but I simply can’t begin to understand its obsession with guns…..

One Minute For Peace…..


It has been a while since I have visited this site (click on the picture to go there). Of course if you have spent any time on this blog you know that I frequently say that we just spend too much money on our military. Forty times more than any other country on earth and more than the rest of the world combined!  That comes to a whopping $1,200,000.00 per minute 24/7.

My friends at AFSC are being very meager in their wishes of only one minute for peace. If we really are serious about deficit reduction, and I think we should be, then this is the place to make the first cuts.

Stifling Possible Peace Talks…

Waving flag of IsraelIsrael on Wednesday announced new construction in east Jerusalem – an area the Palestinians demand for their future state – just hours after it freed a group of Palestinian prisoners as part of a deal to set peace talks in motion.

The building is seen as an attempt by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to make up for the prisoner release, for which he has been sharply criticized at home. The prisoners were jailed for deadly attacks on Israelis.

Interior Ministry spokeswoman Lital Apter said Wednesday that four projects are being promoted, including 1,500 housing units in Ramat Shlomo in east Jerusalem.

SOURCE:  Israeli announces plans for settlement in contested area – CBS News.

I know I am going to get myself in trouble here for even hinting of criticizing Israel but the fool that I am I will do it anyway.

I must admit that I don’t really follow all the Israel news on a daily or even monthly basis.  To me nothing seems to change in that part of the world. There have been possible peace talks going on there for fifty years and every time Israel somehow manages to do something stifle them. Usually it is by the current action of building more settlements in disputed areas.  It seems to me that they don’t really want peace; maybe not enough people have been killed yet to make it reachable?

Yes, I know there is an extreme amount of hatred in that part of the world. So much so to keep animosities flared for centuries to come. I just don’t understand how they can keep that hatred going for so long a  time. It must be very tiring to do that? My main hope in this regard is thinking of Ireland.  That country too was plagued with religious upheaval for decades. For them it was within only the Christian side of religion whereas Israel’s is cross religions.  But somehow  that conflict has finally come to an end.  At least the official version of it. I’m sure that there is still some deep-seated feeling still there among the older generations. That is one nice thing about long time conflicts that future generations don’t put the importance on them as the generation who started the original conflict.

Will Israel ever find peace with the neighbors? Probably not in my lifetime but you never know. One thing that seems to keep the flames going in that area is our funding of the Israeli military establishment. They are the totally dominant military faction in that part of the world. We continue to pump billions of our tax dollars into providing the latest weapons for them. Is that insuring their continued existence or is it just stoking the flames of hatred in the Middle East.  I don’t know enough about that to really have much of an opinion.  But I do know that something needs to change in that part of the world. Maybe when we, and the rest of the world, finally rid ourselves of our dependence on their oil something might change….

Peace Talks…

Peace Talks

What would happen if we spent as much money on seeking peace as we did going to war?  I suspect the cartoon would be much different. It would be a fleet of Maseratis on the Autobahn instead of what you see above. I don’t know if peace would actually happen even with this reversal but wouldn’t it be interesting to find out?

Maybe we could say “if you don’t kill any of your neighbors outside your borders this year we will give you $80 billion” Even with that we would come out ahead…..

The War To End All Wars….

Peace III“[War] won’t stop till there is as much brains and scientific study put to aid peace as there is to promote war.” – Will Rogers, 1 June 1929

Of course these words were spoken not long after World War I which was inaptly titled the “war to end all wars”. Of course it didn’t accomplish that noble task. President Wilson tried his best to put together the United Nations to insure no more world wars but like these times there was just too much Republican bravado going on to prevent that from happening.

I wonder what the world would be like today if he had managed to assemble a world organization with some teeth to collectively deal with rogue nations such as North Korea or Iran. If that had happened maybe we would have some money to spend on how to aid peace. Sadly we will never know as that was like so many other things a missed opportunity.

War and Peace….

‎[War] won’t stop till there is as much brains and scientific study put to aid peace as there is to promote war. – May 31, 1928  Will Rogers

Here we are one world war and dozens of other wars later and still we can’t understand what Will was saying almost one hundred years ago.  Except for a brief period during the Clinton years we have been in constant wars throughout my sixty-some years on this earth. Our soldiers are getting way beyond weary as evidenced by the recent massacre in Afghanistan by a four tour American soldier. Our national debt is increasing beyond imaginations to pay to keep all our wars going. And now we seem to be adding insanity on top of insanity by wanted to go to war with yet another country in the Middle East!

Most of our reasons for these most recent wars stems from our needs for oil. Why can’t we move beyond the one hundred plus year old gasoline engine to something that doesn’t require our young people’s lives to maintain it.

This greatly saddens me.  I need to lighten up some so this dark world doesn’t drag me down. Enough said…

Peace Requires Strength and Conviction….

Source:  Three Queries on Peace – QuakerQuaker.

The author of the post above is David Madden. Please click the source above to see the entire post.  There are not many words in the source post (I will likely exceed his word count in just talking about it)  but they do inspire me. As is obvious from the link David is a Quaker and this article is based on Quaker thought and values.

There are three points of peace brought up in the post. I will briefly mention the first two and then will have some personal thoughts on the last one. It is not that the first two are less insightful, it is only that the third one strikes me closer to home right now.

The first element is about What is the meaning of peace? Of course the meaning has different aspects when expanded from a personal day-to-day peace all the way to world peace. The second elements is about what prevents peace from happening. This goes into the nature of man and how we keep the light of the Lord hidden under our personal baskets.

The final peace is a personal peace. Here is what David says about that:

A third element of bringing about peace is to search our hearts and minds for the disharmonious attitudes and behaviors we observe in others. We must always remember what Jesus told us: “…first take the log out of your own eye, then… take the speck out of your neighbor’s eye.”  What keeps me from realizing peace?

I am finding it personally difficult to find any significant peace lately. I think part of it is all the angry words that envelope so much of our social media. By social media I am including the news media (TV, Internet, and the like) as well as the interactive blogs and news articles and various social sites.  They are dragging me down somewhat lately. I am having trouble finding peace among all this chaos. I seem to now look upon all those I don’t know with some amount of skepticism instead of looking for the goodness in their hearts.  What happened? I have always tried to find that “piece of God” in everyone I meet. Lately that is becoming more and more difficult. Am I losing what little innocence I have left?  I will end this with the same sentence that ended the quote above What keeps me from realizing peace”. I need to gather the strength and conviction to find that answer.

Wisdom… Two Varieties..

Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.

But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.

Since these verses have so much meaning I have been inspired to visit them again. The above text comes for the third chapter of James’ letter. Unlike Paul’s many letters that were written to one particular congregation, James’ singular letter included in our modern day Bible was specifically written to Christians in general. That is it was initially written as intended doctrine not to address a particular problem found in a single church and then later applied to all.

It helps us understand that there are two kinds of wisdom in this world. One is self-centered and worldly, the other is from God.  As usual James says “walk the walk”, “actions speak louder than words”, “don’t be all talk” or any other of your favorite sayings.  When you do good deeds they must come from humility. If they are done for self-seeking reasons they are tainted from the very beginning.

Another lesson is that humility comes from wisdom. Whatever is the opposite of humility certainly does not come from wisdom but from selfish ambitions. Here are some antonyms for humility: arrogance, assertiveness, egoism,pretentiousness, pride, self-importance. Take your pick as to which might apply. Being full of yourself does not come from wisdom. James goes on to even say that pride, self-importance, and all the other descriptions comes from the devil himself!

James mentions “peace” several times in his description of heavenly wisdom. He also includes “full of mercy”. Jesus also said “blessed are the peacemakers”. Peacemakers seem to be a central part of what it means to follow Christ. Where does that leave those who think that war is the answer to all of today’s problems? Let us always look for way to make peace before immediately plunging into war….

Deficit Fighters

194I see where the Republicans in the House have only managed to eliminate half the “earmarks” in the current budget. I guess some things are just too sacred. Most of the remaining “pork” is associated with military projects. If the Republicans are serious about reducing the deficits, and I hope they are, they must come to understand:

  • The U.S. represents 4% of the world’s population
  • The U.S. spends almost 60% of the total world’s expenses on military things
  • The U.S. spends an average of 40 times more for our military than any other country in the world
  • If  the U.S. pared down our military spending to be just three times more than any other country we could automatically reduce our deficits about almost $400 billions per year
  • The U.S. still have thousands of soldiers stationed in Germany, Japan, Korea, and hundreds of other places. Why???
  • The U.S. does NOT need to be the policemen of the world. Other countries are more than capable of helping to do this job. Just look at the coalition around the no-fly zone in Libya as evidence of that.

If only we came to some sense on our military spending we could solve so many of our current deficit issues. The rest of the world knows this. Why don’t we? I’m not saying that this military fixation is solely a Republican issue. In fact it has probably infected just as many Democrats. Let’s move beyond this insanity. It would save us trillions of dollars and ten of thousands of lives of our young people needlessly being put in harm’s way.

But what do I know.

One Minute for Peace…..

If Only we in the U.S. spent even a minuscule amount of  what we spend for our wars to promote peace…

I want to direct you to a website promoting peace instead of war.  OneMinuteForPeace.org from the American Friends Service Committee. As the site states in the previous year the United States has spent over $1 trillion of military spending. That comes out to almost $2,000,000 every minute! It is sad to say but we spend more on our military than the rest of the world combined and many many times more to fund our wars than we do to promote peace.


The graph above from their website shows the total U.S. discretionary spending. It is shameful that our war machine takes up so much of our spending.

The AFSC is part of the Quaker faith tradition and is world famous for their peace initiatives. In fact they have received a past Nobel Peace prize for their activity. They go throughout the world helping those who are destitute and/or ravaged by wars. They are trying to raise the amount of just one minute’s U.S. military budget for those initiatives. Please consider giving them some of your resources. It is too bad that small organizations like the AFSC must do the bulk of the peacemaking work when so much is spent of war and destruction.

I find it amazing that many in government say we are spending our grandchildren into poverty while at the same time putting the biggest budget item in the “no cuts” category. It saddens me more to know that so many people who call themselves Christian seem to celebrate that fact. If only we in the U.S. had even a small fraction of our passion for peace that we seem to have for war we could indeed call ourselves our brother’s keeper.

And the journey goes on….

War is not the answer for ANY question….


I recently read an article that proudly made the point that the U.S. military is the largest minority employer in the country. It went on to argue that if our military complex were proportioned like the rest of the world there would be many more people without jobs. The United States which makes up four percent of the world’s population maintains over 60% of the worlds military complex! Another way of saying this is that each U.S. taxpayer pays more taxes for military expenses than thirty people in just about any other country in the world. Is it any wonder that we have the highest deficits in the world?

I personally think it is kind of lame to spout the military complex as the savior of minority employment. It seems like we could use our young people for more productive things than to carry a gun in some far off country. How about promoting peace instead of war. Our first answer to any world problem is to send in our military. If we put as much effort in promoting peace what would the world look like today. It seems that we poke our noses in where they don’t belong and our simple presence in a region is much the reason for the continuing conflicts that result.

I was one of those young men who our government wanted to send to Vietnam to kill in the name of freedom. Fortunately I was not required to go but I did lose several good friends to that war. And of course there are even to this day thousands of men my age who are still living on a daily basis the horror story of their time there. As it turns out now more than thirty years later Vietnam is no better or worse than any other country in the region. If we look back to World War II most of our enemies of that time are now some of our closest allies. It greatly saddens me that humanity continues to send it’s young men, and now young women, to die in wars that have little or no long term consequences. I believe that we should take Jesus’ words to heart and yes, even love our enemies…

If we were to do a radical thing such as letting the rest of the world take care of their own business and proportioned our military complex to be similar to the rest of the world I believe there would be much more peace in the world. Not to mention a huge drain off our personal taxes. We don’t need to be the world’s policemen! Let’s turn most of that responsibility over to the countries that are in the region of the conflict. We still have thousands of our military personnel in Germany, Japan, Korea, and scores of other countries. Why??

The picture here is of a very good friend of mine who lost his life in Vietnam. He was drafted soon after college graduation and was killed almost immediately upon arrival in the country. He left behind a pregnant young bride and a future son who would never know his father. He was the first friend I lost to a war but he was not by any means the last. This also saddens me greatly

….And the journey goes on…