Archive | December, 2015

Child’s Play

29 Dec

So this is what is turning out to be a typical day in the United States of America in the year of our lord 2016.

In this land of over 300 million guns, a 12 year old child picks one up (or a reasonable facsimile thereof) and starts to play with it.

A concerned onlooker calls 911 to report his concern about what looks like one of our 300 million citizens waving one of our 300 million guns about and pointing it at other people.

Soon the cops arrive and within 2 seconds gun down the gun pointing child, in this land of 300 million guns, because…

they are fearful for their lives.

And to a Grand Jury, in this land of 300 million guns, in the United States of America, in the year of our lord 2016…

That sounds quite reasonable.

If the police are afraid of an armed citizenry, and our courts all agree with them…then what chance do the rest of us have?

Many American citizens and most of our political leaders believe that, according to the infinite wisdom of our founding fathers, the only answer is…

In the land of 300 million guns…we need at least 300 million and…1 ?

Go West Young Man…but not Too Far West!

27 Dec

According to the latest population surveys and official sources for US poverty estimates the official poverty rate in the United States is 14.8 percent which means that 46.7 million Americans live in poverty. And although the poverty rates in America have not changed over the past few years for most groups, 3 groups have seen their rates increase; people with disabilities, people with at least a bachelor’s degree and married couple-families.

The poverty rate for chil­dren under age 18 was 21.1 per­cent.

14 states now require over 3 times the earning power of the minimum wage in order to reasonably afford a 2 bedroom apartment. The other 36 states require at least twice the minimum wage, or a wage of at least 30,000 dollars per year to afford such an abode.

66% of all Americans earn less than 20 dollars per hour.

It’s not unusual to walk around my neighborhood these days and find a house or two lying vacant. I live in New Jersey and can’t remember a time when that was normal. I’m just wondering how things are where you live?

 

 

The Star of Christmas…

24 Dec

Is Santa Claus! Am I wrong?

If one wants to put the Christ in Christmas shouldn’t one go to mass? Why would I want to see a religious display in front of my local municipal building or at the airport or in a department store or public square? Would we expect to see product commercials in a church? Do we expect to see any other religious symbols representing any of the other many and varied religions of the world on public display in public buildings?

So what’s the big deal? Not even Christ was Christian. While he walked the Earth he never professed to be anything other than a Jew, nor did he profess that anyone else should be otherwise. I do believe that he would be appalled to find out that people were worshiping him these days since he never once instructed people anywhere to do that. (I know that is silly for me to say because he already knows everything)…but did he not once say:

“Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s”…and um, I think that would be where Santa Claus and Christmas belong…in the Caesar category. Have you ever been shopping during the holiday season? Of course you have. So I ask you, would you place that experience among Godly things or Caesarian ones?

But I digress because although the gift giving and the good cheer associated with Santa do blend in well with the basic tenets of peace on Earth, good will to all, why would Jesus be involved with Christmas? Easter is the truly religious holiday of the Christian faith. Christmas is simply supposed to commemorate Jesus’ birth but one can’t celebrate the birth of God can one? Gods aren’t born, are they?

So to celebrate Jesus’ birth is to celebrate his birth as a human being or man and that takes us back to his living his life as a devout Jew who sought to follow the traditions and laws of Judaism and while he may have campaigned for reforms towards a more accessible worship of Judaism he never campaigned for a new religion to replace Judaism based on himself as God and savior.

The apostle Paul did that and he was neither one of the apostles nor named Paul! So that takes us right back to our faith and our belief that what we believe in is the true path to salvation and an afterlife in heaven. But faith is what we have in the absence of factual evidence and who is to say that our faith is any better than anyone elses faith in anything else…since we all lack evidence or proof that what we believe in is true.

When Jesus was asked: “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” His answer was: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me.”

So I think that the Christmas tradition of Santa Claus is a great and simple way to remind us all that while we adults worry ourselves with hatred or revenge, religious or racial differences, or trying to accumulate wealth or power, the key is to “do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God”?  And treat others as you would have yourself be treated…And by all means judge not. (now who can say they do that on a regular basis?)

Just have a Merry Christmas and spread some cheer and good will and do your best to make children smile and have hope for a future where our beliefs will someday lead us towards one another and not in opposite directions, on this all too finite of worlds.

The Path to Greatness?

20 Dec

Who said:

“Would I approve waterboarding? You bet your ass I would…in a heartbeat, and I would approve more than that. Don’t kid yourselves folks. It works okay? It works. Only a stupid person would say it doesn’t work. Believe me it works. And you know what? If it doesn’t work, they deserve it anyway, for what they’re doing. It works!”

That would be Donald Trump, Republican front runner for the nomination to run for the Presidency of the United States, while speaking last month at a rally for his supporters.

Thousands cheered his approval as he spoke those words.

Walls, the deportation of millions, the profiling of millions of others, more war and torture…for non citizens and citizens alike.

Would this be the kind of government that we deserve here in the United States of America at the dawn of the 21st century?

It will be if you vote for it.

 

 

 

 

Good Grief and Praise the Lord.

13 Dec

 

 

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Tis the season of holidays and celebrations and New Years…and religion. Which means a visit from the local religious affiliates and their spokespersons. They all seem like very nice people but their visit, no matter how brief, always ends with the handing over of the pamphlet…and that’s where they always lose me.

This year’s pamphlet went something like this:

Why you can trust the Bible!

Answer: Because it’s never wrong! For example, some say that the Bible makes no sense when it explains that Cain met his wife? How could Cain meet his wife when Adam and Even had only 2 sons? Well, because the Bible actually says that Adam became father to sons and daughters so… Cain married his sister or niece!

Now I feel better!

Last years pamphlet said this:

It is true; most people are pretty good. However, contrary to popular opinion, not all good people go to heaven. In fact, you do not have to be a bad person to go to hell. Another interesting fact found in the Bible is that you are not really as good as you think you are.

And the year before?

What you MISS by being a Christian: HELL! (but see above)

Anyway, it’s that simple! So simple that you’d think that after 2,000 years and change, Jesus would have an overall approval rating greater than 31%, but he doesn’t, for only 31% of the world’s people consider themselves Christian.

Yep! Nothing says Holiday cheer and good will to all like a visit from your local Christian organization. That’s for sure! But don’t despair because this year’s pamphlet also explains that since the Bible is never wrong that means that the end times are near!

And I’m not just talking about New Year’s Eve… So according to my pamphlets, at least 69% of the world’s population is going straight to hell…and soon! The rest will beat their swords into plowshares and clean up…

It seems to me that most everyone on this planet always wants to feel exclusive and special about their beliefs. Somehow when something is available to everyone, and for nothing, it simply loses all of its value. Maybe that’s why we can’t get everyone on the same page when it comes to taking care of our planet. So Who, I wonder, do we think is taking care of Heaven…if there is such a place?

But why isn’t Heaven for everybody… and must only the like minded apply? I suppose that’s what makes Heaven so special, it’s exclusivity. Hell, on Earth anyone can get in! We are a greedy lot and it is hard to share the things we possess but you would think that after all of the pain, suffering and strife we go through together here on Earth we’d all just agree to share in an afterlife of peace and rest.

God knows, What would be so wrong with that?

It Really Wouldn’t Be Hard at All

7 Dec

It wouldn’t be hard at all. Make gun laws that require the same standards as getting a driver’s license with a picture ID and an info strip on the back. You wouldn’t even feel any pain at all and you could still get all the guns you wanted. Just register with your state, take a test, prove you’re a citizen, prove you can use the gun safely and prove you can see.  And if you prove to be a drunk or convicted drug user we get to take it away. Why should gun owners have more rights than car drivers do? And we’d all still be able to shoot or run over as many British Regulars, (and each other) as we do now.

And, oh yeah,  if you are on a terrorist watch list? NO YOU CANNOT BUY ANY GUNS. NOT EVEN ONE!

And if that last rule makes you quiver in fear that we’ll then be on the slippery slope to you losing your God given 2nd Amendment rights to bear arms. Then just pack up your do it yourself arsenal and go live some place else! Or at the very least you must shut up about Muslim extremism because your gun extremism is causing just as much harm.

The rest of us would like to feel a little bit safer in what is our country too…and we have absolutely no faith in your imagined ability to keep the nut jobs at bay with your gun toting skills.

What could possibly be wrong with requiring folks to take the utmost responsibility for their desire to want to own deadly weapons that not only can take other people’s lives but were designed to do so? Is this country all about US…or just about you?

 

Does Believing Make it So?

5 Dec

Scientifically speaking, we humans are all alike, because all humans can trace their family tree back to a surprisingly small group of common ancestors. And recent evidence shows that every person on Earth’s most recent common ancestor might have died less than 2000 years ago.

And If you simply count the number of parents you have (2) and then keep multiplying by 2 (because every parent also has 2 parents) for each generation of your family, you’ll discover that you alone have billions of ancestors just within the last thousand years or so. And that’s true for all people because…we all share ancestors.

Yet, if you ask people about this they will probably tell you about how different we all are.  And about how something as simple and as superficial as skin pigmentation can penetrate deep down into a human beings soul to make them altogether a completely different species of human being from you.

And they’ll probably tell you about how our belief systems are so different and varied and in such opposition to one another as to make us all completely incompatible. So much so that we all have to fight unceasingly, without the hope of ever agreeing with each other, forever.

And this is all because we are so different from one another…even though all of the evidence that we have discovered here on Earth and even out in space, shows us that we are not.

And not many of us ever seem to realize that our belief systems, which we hold so dear and to be incontrovertibly ours throughout time, are simply that. Belief systems: meaning based on beliefs that are not supported by facts but rather by… thoughts and ideas that we have or by stories that we have been told.

be·lief: noun: 
plural noun: beliefs
  1. an acceptance that a statement is true or that something exists.
    something one accepts as true or real; a firmly held opinion or conviction.     

And even though we can provide no concrete or indisputable proof, evidence or even facts to support our firmly held beliefs, we don’t care. We just believe.

And even though we are presented with facts from years of scientific study that explain how much the same we all are and how we have all shared the same planet and are of the same planet and are all composed of the same elements and proteins and chemicals and “star stuff” from this finite world…

We still don’t care.

And so we fight, over ancient books written by ancient minds and untruths told by small minded people and misconstrued notions forged from ill conceived imaginations. And when the facts prove us to be wrong or when we discover that our proofs have no facts to support them?

We, at best,  say maybe…and then fall back on our beliefs, which we know, by the very name we give them…to be unsupported convictions held together by opinion, acceptance and faith.

So is this because thinking, that which separates us from the other animals in our world…makes it so? And is it that “making it so” is better than discovering “what is so”?

And is that what it means to be human?  That we embrace what we make… more lovingly than what we find?

And thus we tragically end up with… not “I think therefor I am”, but rather…I believe therefor I am…(with the addendum) and you’re not.

So isn’t it also interesting to note that while science seeks answers in an effort to provide hope for the future of all human kind, faith almost always provides us with the hope for global destruction of all human kind so that we can go to another place where we won’t be able to screw everything up with our belief systems.

Hmmmmm…kind of makes you think doesn’t it? (or maybe not)

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