Call for New Thinking
our Intellectual Gardens
philosopher Voltaire told us that instead of angrily quibbling
over whose vision of the world is right, our time is better spent cultivating
our gardens by which he meant cultivating our lives,
and how we nourish the lives around us with meaningful virtue.
we take Voltaire's advice, and see our lives as gardens, then let us
plant seeds-for-thought that will will grow and blossom
and bear rich fruit. Living in the here and now, with a benevolent eye
for the future, eliminates stale ways of thinking. A new consciousness
will be born that will restore sanity to Washington.
world is beautiful, and worth saving.
Seed for Thought:
new consciousness? Sounds kind of New Age.
refers to awareness. It refers to living in the
moment, using our minds directly, thinking for ourselves, accepting
responsibility for ourselves and others. It includes as a priority the
moral impulse of conscience. The
more consciousness we have, the more alive and complete we are, the
better choices we make.
Seed for Thought:
of the worst results of political and ideological partisanship is
that just about every issue and every topic becomes a source of contention
which obscures their significance. This is no way for a democracy that
values truth to survive.
the presidential candidacy of Bernie Sanders encouraging members
of the far left, the topic of democratic socialism has
gained public attention. Almost immediately, this has been perceived
as a threat to our present economic system, which is predominantly based
on capitalism. This is what partisanship does. There was
no openness to a civilized exchange of information in order for people
to weigh the facts. The word socialism was used to instantly conjure
fears of communism and Marxism, and totalitarian
regimes that used them in the past.
time goes on, I envision political battle lines being drawn that will
portray democratic socialism on one side versus capitalism on the other,
each characterizing the other as a vital threat to our entire way of
rest of article)
from the 1780s
course of time is such that we always find ourselves at a crossroads.
Unfortunately, we rarely know which route to take. We end up choosing
what we think is the easiest, or let somebody else choose for us. We
forget that every choice we make influences the future of humanity.
Or perhaps, we no longer care.
was not always so. In the 1780s, our responsibility to human progress
was very much on the minds of people. Alexander Hamilton once
belongs to us to vindicate the honor of the human race."
he spoke during turbulent times in the early history of the United States,
his observation remains as true today as it was back then. The only
difference is that during his time a number of remarkable individuals
seized the moment to establish grand opportunities, while today, most
of us lack any inspiration for the greater good. Instead, we have sheepishly
surrendered ourselves and our democracy to ideological tyrants of the
are few true patriots to be found in today's leadership, where corruption
is not only endemic but deemed an indispensable part of the system.
I differentiate by saying "true patriots," because real patriotism,
the kind on which our nation was built, demanded more than self-praise,
resistance to change, and surrendering our values for something less.
The result of our inaction is a system of government scarcely able to
function except for the privileged few. We see potential leaders not
knowing how to respond when one or two in their midst deviate from the
usual game, revealing how shallow they really are.
present state of American politics, at the national level at least,
shames us all. We have failed the dreams and aspirations of our founders
with apathy and willful ignorance. I say "willful ignorance,"
because our founders themselves warned us what could happen. James
Madison, our fourth president, published these quotes even before
the US Constitution was ratified:
often the great interests of society are sacrifice to the vanity,
to the conceit, and to the obstinacy of individuals."
is a misfortune, inseparable from human affairs, that public measures
are rarely investigated with that spirit of moderation which is essential
to a just estimate of [them]."
is not to be expected in any great political question: that the danger
is probably exaggerated on each side, when an opposite danger is conceived
on the opposite side."
added his concerns, well-describing what we have seen in Congress for
often oppose a thing merely because they have had no agency in planning
it, or because it may have been planned by those they dislike
Opposition then becomes, in their estimation, an indispensable duty
They seem to think themselves bound in honor, and by all the motives
of personal infallibility, to defeat the success of what has been
resolved upon contrary to their sentiments."
most frivolous and fanciful distinctions have been sufficient to kindle
their unfriendly passions and excite their most violent conflicts."
well know that neither moral nor religious motives can be relied on."
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War between Darkness & Light
Unites States is facing a challenging dilemma. It seems that, while
no one was looking, the world changed without our permission. So much
of what we had in place to insure our own security no longer applies.
Nuclear missiles and submarines, hundreds of military bases and international
intrigue, have become pretty much obsolete against the rise of terrorism.
The behemoth of our military might, so effective in the 20th century,
has become like the Titanic. It cannot maneuver this treacherous sea
of floating death that refuses to play by civilized rules.
heard it said that the only military lessons we learn are those from
the last war, not the one we are in. We use strategies guaranteed to
be out-of-date, and therefore almost useless. I don't think this is
accurate right now. The war on terror has been going on long enough
for us to adapt. The trouble is, many of our civilian leaders have learned
nothing at all. The loudest of them are invoking failed policies of
the past, which they still believe in, while military experts do not.
We cannot shoot or bomb ourselves out of the predicament we find ourselves
truth is, we have painted ourselves into a corner by incorrectly using
our military might. We have yet to comprehend that terrorism is not
just a tactic, as some are quick to say, but a disease that encompasses
international discontent, religious fanaticism, feelings of vengeance
everywhere, and mental illness among individuals who might otherwise
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is no doubt that Pamela Gellers American Freedom Defense
Initiative, under American law, had the legal right to
hold their provocative contest in Garland, Texas that called for drawings
of the Prophet Mohammad. If that were the only issue involved,
the question would end there. What fanatics like this group fail to
understand is that legal rights should always be subject to moral rights.
Freedom demands civilized responsibility. Separate the two, and freedom
loses its highest value, and becomes barbarity of the worst kind. In
a contest of ideologies, I would not want this organization representing
western ideals. We are better than that.
behind the 1st Amendment, as Ms. Geller is now trying to do,
presents no good excuse. I view it as a mockery of free speech. The
Constitution was never meant to supplant the obligations of reason,
conscience and Natures Law. Indeed, it was meant
to reflect these higher obligations. In order to avoid the misdirection
of fanaticism, we must never allow legalism to replace the heart of
legal intent. If we do not, small minds will forever find ways of using
our rights for all the wrong reasons.
has to question why sane people would want to provoke the religious
hatred of one and a half billions Muslims around the world, and the
violence of their radical fringe. Was it just to prove that the law
allows it? Were they heroically exercising their right to free speech
in order to protect it? More likely, their motives had to do with profiteering
from extremism. And that is tragic. It perverts American ideals at a
time when the world would most benefit from their clarity and depth.
are now challenged to prove, despite the ongoing rhetoric, that America
is not defined by the shameful deeds of misguided extremists. Our truest
ideals are progressively far more humane than these fanatics portray,
and strong enough to survive and supplant their hateful attempts
just wish that the fanatics would step aside for a while so that our
ideals could be better seen.
you ever thought about political "think-tanks?"
should. The purpose of these well-financed organizations is to generate
influence on the way you think, and they are very successful at what
they do. A systematic influence over popular thinking is nothing less
than mind-control on a massive level. Mind-control is,
and always has been, an existential threat to freedom.
are all familiar with clever marketing techniques in business. We see
ads everywhere, all the time. They are now an engrained part of our
lives, appealing to our personal tastes, interests, egos and relationships.
think-tanks are like marketing agencies. Instead of businesses, they
represent ideologies. Their main purpose is to circumvent the individual's
process of forming independently considered opinions on a whole host
the central benefit of a democratic system (and our republic is democratically
inclined) is tapping into the combined wisdom of freethinking people,
then the systematic propagandizing (i.e., brainwashing) by political
ideologies is nothing less than an existential threat to self-government.
of us have been afflicted by this to some extent. For some,
it means shutting down to politics and allowing others to freely take
control. For others, it means taking marching orders from talk radio
or other media outlets, where the constant transfer of emotionally charged
fear and anger cripples the mind of clear thinking and sane evaluations.
thrive on dividing the nation along ideological fault lines.
Whereas diversity of opinion is supposed to strengthen the nation with
positive consensus, cooperation and mutual progress of open minds, we
now see partisan obsessions bent on tearing the nation apart.
know that once people are converted into an ideology, facts that contradict
their adopted perspective are easily disregarded. That is a
powerful weapon for those who would manipulate us to their advantage.
Converts will readily believe lies and support issues that are contrary
to their self-interests. They will hate whom they are told to hate.
They will see evil conspiracies where there are none, while being exploited
by professional conspirators.
you ever heard a number of politicians give the same answer, the same
wording, to a question by the media? That is the answer that some think-tanks
carefully formulated for them to placate their followers. Instead of
direct communication, we are being subjected to mass produced propaganda.
Our representatives merely give voice to those professional strategists
for whom we never voted.
this is not what our founders intended.
individuals who value freedom and integrity, the question we face is
this: how much of our own personal beliefs and values have been manufactured
by ideological propaganda? Do we just fall in line and not question
what we are told out of a misplaced sense of loyalty? As a free people,
our loyalty should always focus on truth first, or everything we support
is, at best, questionable.
Letter to Members of Congress
establishment of Congress, created by our founders, was never meant
to be a club for your personal advancement. The fate of our nation,
and in many respects, the world, has been placed in your hands by either
the wisdom or the folly of those who voted you into office.
live in a "democratic-republic" for a reason.
The founders anticipated that elected leaders would naturally be of
noble character, honest, without governmental ties to personal profit.
Not scandal-mongers. Not saboteurs of international affairs. Not people
who habitually threaten to close or defund the government that they
are responsible to run effectively.
have allowed extremism to poison the hallowed halls where
you dared to hand out lobbyist checks to members who vote for special
interests. Extremism, which, by its very nature gets ever more extreme,
has infected your vision of the world into something unnatural, where
two ideologies vie for power over a people whose majority will accept
Federalist Papers discuss your factional competition, and project
that the contest will never be won by either of you. So why not represent
the stable sanity of the majority and learn to cooperate as the founders
intended? No more personal attacks. No more conspiracy theories and
lies. If you have nothing to offer other than discord and the painful
dismemberment of our government, than do the patriotic thing and go
away. Let some trustworthy grown-up take your place.
look at the situation from a different angle.
for a moment, a large business where a minority of middle managers purposely
gum up the works so that the business has to shut down. Or these same
middle managers decide that they are going to teach the company's CEO
a lesson by threatening to close a very important department.
they do not have the good of the company in mind, or the best interests
of their investors. In real life, they would not be tolerated and would
be publicly shamed by losing their jobs.
is it that these same actions are tolerated in politics? By electing
people who do not believe in government, or believe that it is, by nature,
too costly and ineffective to be endured, the results are self-serving.
Government will fail by placing such people into office.
you might ask, would anyone want their government to fail?
answer has nothing to do with common sense, and everything to do with
an ideology that perpetuates an angry death-wish that opts for failure.
That this ideology has any appeal has to do with long-term resentments
that resemble a nonsensical feud more than any logical goal or benign
wish. Hence its negative, self-destructive behavior.
during our recent Great Recession, when jobs were being lost
at a tremendous rate, the stock market dropped, and modern nations everywhere
were staggering, our House of Representatives was presented with
a Jobs Bill that would have helped alleviate the problems for
millions of people, and had bipartisan support. Even during
this time of emergency, it was prevented from coming to a vote. The
very representatives who blocked this bill had run for office on the
promise of bringing the American people jobs. They then did nothing
to procure those jobs, and instead made sure that Congress would not
respond. I can think of no greater betrayal of the people's trust than
what we saw at that time.
example is more recent. These same representatives, of the same anti-American
government ideology, were given a bipartisan Immigration
Bill by the Senate well over a year ago. After using immigration
reform as a topic to get elected, one might expect them to jump at the
chance to accomplish put it through, but once again blocked the bill
from coming to the floor. Why? Because they profited too
much from keeping the problem unresolved. It gives them a major topic
to complain about to rouse their constituents. It is a political fact
that nothing clouds reason more than hate and anger, and that is what
they count on in their bids for election. They have nothing positive
here we are as a nation, suffering from an elected minority whom the
media legitimates by labeling them as "extremists."
The most notable are not extremists, however. They are opportunists
who procure the mantle of extremism in order to gain power. Real extremists,
no matter how twisted their vision, would not put the health of the
nation in jeopardy all the time. They would not claim to be fighting
for jobs and immigration reform, and then block every attempt to remedy
these problems. They are not patriots either, because patriots would
take every opportunity to poison political discourse by lying. They
hate the president not for anything he has done (remember, they hated
him before he did anything), but because they could aggravate regional
biases to their own ends.
exploitive representatives represent only themselves as they clamor
for national attention. They claim to speak for the American people,
but are actually supported by a small minority of duped extremists who
exert more power than they should thanks to gerrymandering. They are
also funded by corporations that continually place profit over the good
of the American people. Unfortunately, nothing we can do or say will
change that. You can't reason with extremists, and, as Thomas Jefferson
once wrote, "The selfish spirit of commerce knows no country, and
feels no passion or principle but that of gain."
is therefore up to us, as a people, to see through their lies and call
them out on it every chance we get. It is our duty to speak out for
truth and good governingand never stop out until the situation
changes and a sense of nobility and righteousness returns to the People's
ex-mayor of New York, Rudy Giuliani, accused President Obama
of not loving America.
could say this because his conservative outlook of the world is based
on the words "I love America." That sentiment includes the
flag, the Constitution, the free market, the preservation of freedom,
and guns. If a person does not constantly make references to this love,
like the public persona of Ronald Reagan did, they simply do
not love America. And worse. If they dare to instruct America, no matter
how constructively or necessary for the times, it is taken as a traitorous
attack on their inbred belief that America can do no wrong.
love for America carries a number of glaring contradictions.
one thing, it fails to include the people of America.
Conservative extremists not only dislike diversity, they hate deviation
of thought. You cannot hate deviation of thought and truly respect freedom,
which America is supposedly all about. Unless you kowtow to their closed
ideology, you are considered either a risk or a threat. Hence their
almost warlike anger and hate against anything that does not fit their
lack of respect and concern for the environment carries
a real disdain for the land and resources defined by our borders. America
is not only the people it represents, it is a place. You can find it
on a map. It consists of fields and mountains and rivers and streams.
It is the home of our wildlife. If we love our physical nation only
for the oil that it contains, what happens when the oil runs out?
respect for the people, all of them, without supporting equal rights,
without cherishing the land we live on, without honoring American ideals
beyond words arranged on a pedestal, conservative love for America is
nothing more than a love of empty symbols.
is the truest patriot? The one who says he loves
America? Or the one who tries to preserve and better it? The one who
shouts for freedom while denying equal rights? Or the
one who knows that freedom comes with a cost of tolerance and a respect
for the kind of change that freedom naturally brings about?
Giuliani took the mention by President Obama of the historical "crusades"
as an affront to America. He interpreted it as calling all Christians
barbaric, which is nothing more than a fiction created
by evil-spirited outrage that is always ready to attack. Nothing that
President Obama said in the speech was incorrect. That doesn't matter.
It did not fit the superficial vision of the world that Mr. Giuliani
embraces. That was enough for him to wildly and inaccurately condemn
it. To no one's surprise, his words were welcomed by like-minded talk-show
hosts whose view of the world is equally and dangerously superficial.
Truth has nothing to do with the ideology they propagate.
is sad. Conservatism once had a lot to offer, but it turned
its back on its own heritage and value. Its lack of positivity has made
it a negative philosophy that offers nothing but special privileges
for those willing to sell their souls to symbolism and greed.
once had a lot to offer as well, but lost touch with its original goals
when it allowed conservatism to redefine it. Today's partisanship represents
a symbiotic relationship between two broken ideologies long disconnected
from true American ideals. And people fall for it. They leave all the
ideals that America is supposed to stand for behind, to flounder and
ultimately be forgotten.
Or Brutality toward Women?
by Dean Jacques
I am the author
of Chivalry-Now, the Code of Male Ethics, and one of the two
founders of our international fellowship. As such, I am deeply concerned
about attitudes toward gender which are unacceptable for the modern
world, attitudes that should have been unacceptable in the old world
toward women is somehow associated with the word "honor"
is especially troubling, and needs to stop. These oppressions include
restricting the experiences of women as fellow human beings to the point
that their lives are held in bondage, punishing them for behavior that
a culture mistakenly deems worthy of extreme punishment. These punishments
include such barbaric atrocities as mutilation, permanent disfigurement
and even death-often instigated by the guilt of someone else.
The men who do these
things believe that "honor" demands such treatment, referring
to the honor of family reputation. "Punish the one who brings
shame or even a hint of shame. Punish severely to exonerate one's name.
It is the honorable thing to do."
is not derived from conscience, but from tradition, transmitted memories
of past behavior that culture has associated with correct behavior.
It is mistaken because it is cause and effect that has no heart, and
no real thought. It only survives as an expectation aligned with fear-not
honor. It is a lie that exonerates no one and, instead, heaps evil upon
evil that reflects upon a whole community.
bears the blame?
never know the unintended consequences we set in place through our actions.
We never know when, where and if they will end.
line can be drawn between the police shooting of Michael Brown in
Ferguson, to the deliberate murder of two New York policemen almost
five months later. The line includes the grand jury decision, protest
marches, and every media commentary in between. Each made influence,
good or bad, with no clue for the possible consequences. We have no
idea how it will end.
the line goes back further. It extends to the killing of Trayvon
Martin, but doesn't start there. It includes feelings of anger generated
by our political machine and a heartless media. An entertainment culture
obsessed with violence. The hampering of race relations by individuals
who stubbornly hold prejudices without regard for the future. It includes
legal segregation and thousands of lynchings. All the choices of society
in shaping children's minds. Suspicious looks for no reason. The fad
of looking dangerous.
constantly stand at a crossroads where things can improve. We can stop,
learn and make things better. Or take the sickly, cowardly path of denial
and blaming others. The truth is, we all share guilt, if only for ignoring
the needs of others. Nothing will be solved, nothing, until we start
living up to our responsibility.
then will we become the people we claim to be.
Greatest Hope: Defining Who We Are
tells us that everything we do and say not only defines who we
are, but contributes to what it means to be human. As human beings,
our actions reflect upon, and therefore influence, everyone.
The definition of
humanity includes a wide variety of contradictions, disparate beliefs,
an almost contagious mediocrity, and dangerous extremism. Our history
includes the brilliance of enlightened philosophers, and genocidal tyrants.
Government protected freedom, along with slavery. Inspiring declarations
of equality, continually stained by vestiges of discrimination. Civilized
laws twisted by corruption. Magnificent works of art and literature,
competing with ignorance and hate propaganda. A reverence for human
nature, continually spit upon by war, terrorism and torture.
Most of us recognize
the nobler aspects of humanity, even as we disregard them at the behest
of less honorable agendas. We are adept at ignoring our mistakes, denying
them when possible, or deflecting criticism by blaming someone else.
When all else fails, we revise history to justify our errors.
We do this despite
those dignified aspects of human nature that we long ago enshrined to
inspire us all. Truth. Freedom. Respect for just laws. Personal integrity.
Democracy. Fair play. Civil rights. The humane advance of technology.
everyday priorities, however, can we say that these ideals actually
just received a Christmas present that I want to share with you all.
Please bear with me.
many years, I have tried to convey a very important idea that never
seems to hit the mark.
I stumbled upon a quote from Sir Francis Bacon that leaves me
in awe. Before I share it, a little background is necessary:
fellow named Peter Ramus, a French Heuguenot who preceded Bacon,
taught that logic had to be augmented by rhetoric in order to arrive
at truth. Facts themselves did not matter. Superficial logic and a gift
for persuasion were all that was needed. Such a conclusion illustrates
pre-modern thought, and strongly contributed to the lack of progress
during the Dark Ages.
formula went like this: first comes the idea, then comes choosing
evidence that supports it, while ignoring or denigrating evidence that
does not. Schools back then considered argumentation (what they
called disputation) as the primary means of finding truth.
protested, demanding that indiscriminate facts supersede preference,
no matter how persuasive the rhetoric of that preference may be. So
began the era of science.
is what he said:
Thoughts on Ferguson
events in Ferguson precipitated by a white policeman shooting
a black teenager deserve serious discussion. Unfortunately, dynamics
of our politically driven media are such that rational discussion is
almost impossible. We are all expected to take sides on every issue
according to partisan demand, and that just fuels the fire.
we must take sides, let us ignore falling into the trap of ideological
quagmires and boldly take the side of truth.
truth is, I never knew Michael Brown while he was alive. I don't
know Officer Darren Wilson. I did not witness the killing. My
knowledge of what happened is as limited as it is with most people who
heard it on the news.
that admission, I think it is wrong to lump all members of the police
force as bad, just as it is wrong to label them all as good (I have
personally seen examples of both). It is difficult to make split-second,
life and death decisions while enforcing the law, and terrible mistakes
happen. Nevertheless, police brutality, which we have seen too much
of over the last few years, is a crime worth prosecuting. I believe
there are vestiges of racism in America, and that we should all adopt
a patriotic mandate for equality to rid ourselves of them. No more playing
games with dog whistle politics and other hidden forms of prejudice.
It is time for all of us to grow up. If human life has any intrinsic
value, and human dignity is something to be respected, then it must
apply to all people, regardless of color, or it applies to none.
all bemoan the lack of positive dialog in politics. Thanks to ideological
extremists, and those exploitive politicians, strategists and talking
heads who profit off them, what we take for communication can be likened
to trench warfare. Each side hides in their respective ditch and take
potshots at one another. The bullets and grenades usually miss. More
precisely, the bullets and grenades never reach the other side. The
conflict has degenerated to a war dance, with loud accustaions enflaming
passions on both sides, assuring continued hostilities.
side speaks to its own pre-converted audience. If they bother to listen
to the other side at all, it is to find weaknesses, fashion new complaints,
twist the message out of context to mean the worst thing possible, providing
fodder for insults and comedians. Positive dialog, constructive communication,
cannot exist in the trench warfare of competing hardliners. There is
no recognized common ground.
result? Constant, unending political warfare. As happens during the
moral collapse of any war, corruption and exploitation cheerfully go
unnoticed. Despite the resulting pendulum swings of elections, no one
really wins. Everyone loses. Even the profiteers have to live in a world
condemned by political insanity of their own making.
is said that democracy is, by nature, messy, but that is just a defeatist
excuse. At some point the abuse of good intent becomes a farce, forcing
a nation, along with its culture, to decline. The wealth may remain,
and even grow. The military can still be powerful. But the soul of reason
upon which the nation was built is steadily strangled.
someone offered you ten million dollars to speak on radio or TV, but
what you say would not be true, and would prey on peoples fears,
and contribute to tearing the nation apart, would you do it? Would you
consider yourself a traitor if you did? Or would you deny responsibility
by claiming to be nothing more than a paid entertainer?
you refused to tell damaging, public lies, congratulations!
You are a person of integrity who would not betray your country even
for incredible wealth.
a different level, what if someone else accepts the deal in your place,
and you become part of his or her fervent audience? Every day, the words
sound more acceptable, as repetitive lies often do. As your values adjust,
you make an emotional connection? While you may not be selling out your
country for cash, you are helping someone else to do it instead. As
the lies continue to influence your opinion, it clouds your judgment
as well. It influences your vote. You mouth the words to other people.
Will you consider yourself a patriot? Chances are you will, because
the voice on the radio says you are.
clearer moments you may tell yourself, Im just choosing
between two evils. What more can a patriot do in a corrupt
you are seriously interested in the answer, it is this: A true
patriot, a person committed to enlightenment ideals rather than a nationalist,
would look for other alternatives. If none were found, the patriot would
set about to make one.
as democratic republics were created as new alternatives to monarchy,
we have it within our power to find workable solutions to the problems
we have now. We have a proper structure of government to do this. We
just have to quit thinking as combative partisans and look for real
can refuse to let people or parties of questionable character, supported
by backroom deals, think-tanks and propaganda machines, define the parameters
of our patriotism as something small, belligerent and often contradictory.
The political form of trench warfare has a propensity of stopping human
progress in its tracks. We can no longer afford that.
can only be stopped by mobilizing patriots of truth who are committed
to fixing and protecting the delicate system of government that our
founders gave us. That means individuals motivated enough to step outside
the regurgitated propaganda of partisan ideologies. We need such patriots
in leadership positions, at all levels, to bring new integrity to public
this stage, it is not about big or small government, or about welfare
or guns or abortion or oil. Its about the will of a free people
who understand the potential that freedom grants us the freedom
to think for ourselves and do what is right.
Revolution of 1776 can only continue, as it must, when
it is freed from the stagnating confinement of ideology and partisanship.
some point everyone must take a stand. What will yours be?
you answer, please keep in mind:
the time for reckoning comes, you can someday claim you didnt
know, even though no one will believe you. You can say the scientific
data was too incomplete or misleading, even though it wasnt. You
can give the excuse that you thought it was all just partisan politics,
but everyone will know you helped make it that way. You can claim the
ignorance that comes from selling your integrity to talk show hosts
or special interests, but everyone will know that's a cop-out, and blame
you more. Tell me, do you really want all that guilt piled on your head?
sooner you admit the truth, and take an active role in solving the problem,
the more exonerated you will be. Admitting wrong and setting things
right is always the ethical, heroic, patriotic, religious, and superbly
human thing to do.
many people, patriotism means nationalism. It means rejecting
foreign ways, no matter how positive they might be. It means
resisting change, in the fear that the better part of their identity
will disappear. It means turning mistakes and wrong-headed ideas into
icons and traditions that need defending, a chimera based on faith,
not fact, that covers over any sense of guilt or responsibility. It
means rewriting history, which is an insult to truth and an assault
on the future, in order to support continued error. It is a patriotism
of closed minds, an embrace of ignorance, a stagnation of all that is
human that needs to progress.
to me, is very different. It is a loyalty to an idea that I firmly believe
in, loyalty to the overall vision of our enlightened founders, that
freedom and virtue are intertwined, and will someday, once fully understood
and practiced, result in a better world.
to me, like freedom itself, must remain inseparable to truth, or it
leads people astray. Who are we without truth? What are we? A respect
for truth is what makes human potentially special. I say potentially,
because some have no respect for truth. They consider it an enemy. This
is where the poison slips in. Civilization itself starts to crumble.
patriotism extends to concerns such as protection of borders, a well-managed
government, protection under law, defense from enemies, foreign and
domestic, securing justice and other civil and human rights, the central
focus must always be the good of the people. People are the heart and
soul of a nation no matter what their race or creed. To disregard
or reject them is to transform a nation into an empty shell, a tagline,
an obnoxious melee of competing factors, whose loyalty is limited to
money and power.
me, patriotism is appreciating what we have, preserving what is most
humane, pushing the nation forward despite all odds, helping fellow
citizens escape situations that severely limit their experience of freedom.
It is the opposite of harshly saying I dont care.
Patriotism is about people, and real people care. They have
conscience, and respond to it meaningfully.
me, and maybe not to others, patriotism means doing our very best to
make our government work efficiently, and with the kind of integrity
that will make us proud. That was, after all, the real goal of our founders.
That was the purpose of the Constitution. Do you want smaller government?
Then find ways of reducing it that make sense and hurt no one. Dont
just propagate a mob mentality to tear out its heart, and leave nothing
see the beauty of our founders vision, the beauty of their forecast
of a new world, where freedom and human dignity, based on virtue, reigns
supreme. I wish all of us would speak out on its behalf with an enthusiasm
of strong commitment. We should settle for nothing less.
me to summarize just some of what I believe:
take my gun away! But dont force me to buy one to satiate
someone elses fantasy or paranoia. Dont threaten civilization
by promoting fear and violence at the behest of the gun industry.
Thats not a world we should want our children to inherit.
The rationale of racial discrimination falls apart with
one simple realization. Not all white people are the same. As human
beings they disagree. They hold personal values. They differ in intelligence
and wealth, occupation and religious belief. Even siblings differ
considerably. We all know this first hand. Now we need to know that
it is the same for black people, and Native Americans, and Hispanics,
and Asians. It is the same for all people. That is what makes
us human, and makes us equal as well.
should aim at reducing welfare dependency -- but not
by throwing people out into the streets, or letting children starve.
That would be completely inhumane. The problem was long in the making,
and benign solutions will take time as well.
to stop people who disagree with you from voting is possibly the most
unpatriotic thing a citizen leadership can do. It undermines democracy
and freedom, and deserves the strongest condemnation.
is a close second.
must somehow be rescued from itself. A democracy depends upon
truth. A republic depends upon noble leadership. Corruption has denigrated
both aspects of our democratic/republic.
can and should influence personal values, which are given a voice
at the polls. Our government itself was made to be secular to accommodate
the religious beliefs of a diverse population. We must honor that
a political party believes
it can repair cultural problems by programs that provide costly, superficial
answers, it needs to reevaluate its mission.
a political party disregards truth, becomes a threat to the
union, when it purposely sabotages the workings of government instead
of improving them, when it refuses to acquiesce to majority demands
(not to protect the rights of minorities, but to initiate an ideological
coup), and denies a long-term global threat, proven by science, it
needs to be voted out as quickly as possible.
interfering with other cultures,
in the name of freedom, capitalism or whatever, only leads to ruin.
Cowboy diplomacy is a disaster. We have broken sovereign nations and
are now largely responsible to clean up the mess that followed. An
enlightened nation treads more carefully, intelligently. We cannot
forever afford the perpetual wars and violence that follow bad decisions.
firmly believe these things, and others, of course, and consider myself
a patriot, although others will disagree.
do you think that real patriotism requires?
Soldiers in the War on Terror
sometimes forget that the War on Terror is really being fought
on two separate battlefields. The first involves guns and bombs, suicide
killings and barbaric executions, and the security of civilized nations.
The other is related, but far more subtle. It is war of ideologies.
If we fail to respond in kind to this threat, we lose the war even if
we win, for the threat will never go away.
one side, you have the international spread of western modernity, with
its enlightened vision of democracy, freedom, equality humanitarian
conscience, freedom of religion and speech, and the use of reason in
the name of progress for all.
the other side is unbending, religious fanaticism at its worst, disrupting
civilization with its rebel armies, indiscriminate killing, and even
mass murder - crippling the functions of legitimate governments while
ruining the lives of millions, in the supposed name of God. They reject
democracy, freedom, equality and religious freedom. Indeed, they reject
everything of western civilization, except for its weapons of destruction.
about Race for a White Audience
to the race-related issues of his time, Thomas Jefferson wrote:
"I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that
his justice cannot sleep forever."
young black man in Ferguson, Missouri, was killed by a policeman
for what appears to be no legitimate reason. The incident highlights
a number of unwarranted shootings and beatings of black people that
have been going on for a long time. This is measured beside a history
of racial discrimination that goes back to before our country was founded.
People in Ferguson went to the streets to peacefully protest. Some turned
to violence, theft and the destruction of property. The police responded
with a military-style show of force.
election of a black president did not mean an end to racial discrimination.
Such transformations don't happen over night. "Dog-whistle
politics," using coded language to exploit local bigotry,
still taints political discourse. A clear conscience speaks plainly.
real leadership, politicians and the media keep things the way they
are. Without a rational promotion of unity and understanding, people
take sides according to inclination. Prejudice is seen as a given. The
uninspired pace of actual progress reveals the foot-dragging response
of a disengaged, unenlightened people.
the name of honest discourse, I'd like to share my thoughts about where
this attitude comes from.
Back for Enlightenment
of who we are as a nation, our visionary foundation especially, comes
from the 17th and 18th century period known as the Age of Enlightenment.
It was during this turning point of history that a radical change was
made in the way people think and how they confronted the world in which
they lived. It produced what historians recognize as the modern
mind. That refers to us - at least those of us who liberate
our minds through the use of reason, which is what the idea freedom
was all about.
founders of the United States were enthusiastic proponents of Enlightenment
principles. Inspired by this powerful movement, which had already
resonated through much of Europe, they used its enthusiasm for truth
and freedom to fashion a new form of government.
with the passage of time, much of the context of their elegant writing,
including The Declaration of Independence, has lost some
of its deeper meaning.
The idea of freedom,
for example, or the pursuit of happiness, or equality,
were loaded terms that referenced not only governmental standards, but
the potential brilliance of a coming age. A vast, new potential for
understanding had been recognized and indelibly enshrined for posterity.
Like the fabled Camelot, where an idealized kingdom reached
its peak, only to be lost by those who were not ready, now serves as
an inspiration for some future time that will be more favorable.
Virtues of Government
are political extremists in the Republican Party who believe
that the very existence of government is an affront to freedom. They
would force this view upon us all and consider themselves patriots for
doing so. Although they are a small minority, their influence in Washington
has been as extreme as their rhetoric. The Republican Party itself,
in Congress especially, has relinquished its soul to accommodate them,
only to learn that no accommodation ever goes far enough. These extremists
are tearing the party apart, and the nation along with it. Thanks to
the loud voices of certain media personalities, who are willing to say
anything to expand their coffers, a large part of the American public
is being led astray. Disturbed by the manufactured anger that they hear,
they don't know what to think.
promote some understanding, I present the following simplified overview
of the rationale that went into the making of the government of the
little off topic. The Republicans are preparing to sue Presdient
Obama. This is the latest attempt to maliciously hurt and illlegitimize
his presidency that started on his first day in office.
is a foolish mistake on their part, the kind that unthinking extremists
eventually make. Why? Because in a very real sense, they will be the
ones on trial on the popular stage, along with all their ridiculous
behavior for the last 6 years. All their falsehoods, tricks and disasters
will collectively be recalled by the media, and the American people
will finally realize that Congressional Republicans are the ones who
should be sued for fraud (and the illegal use of tax money in the form
of their salaries).
being said, the arrival of the Tea Party was truly the worst
thing that ever happened to the Republican Party, and to America too.
It is time to vote them out of office and restore sanity back to Washington.
fascinating interview of Carl Sagan by Ted Turner, from the early
1980s. I wonder what Sagan would think of us today.
founders of this nation believed that the only adhesive that would
hold a country of diverse people together was the natural affection
people develop among themselves despite differences. Without this natural
affection, which comes from the simple interactions of everyday life,
the cohesiveness that binds people together as a nation is lost - and
the grand experiment of democracy fails. We lose it all.
are witnessing that failure today, and it is mostly due to the deception
of political gamesmanship.
are witnessing political strategists who work hard to find ways of disparaging
whole swathes of people in order to separate and manipulate just enough
voters to fuel a contest of ideologies that, in the end, and not far
off, will destroy everything we ultimately believe in. Plain and simple,
it is difficult to think of a more devious, greed-driven plot than this
homegrown, multifaceted betrayal of American ideals.
you think climate change is not happening, or that our burning of fossil
fuels is not contributing to it, or you find yourself in doubt about
the whole subject, please take time to view the explanation given by
Neil de Grasse Tyson in his latest episode of Cosmos.
attitudes and policies toward climate change are too important to leave
to wishful thinking, willful ignorance or political ideologies. They
need to be based on truth.
Tyson barely touches the wealth of evidence that has been accumulated
by science since it was first predicted around 1958, he gives a compelling,
insightful overview in simple terms that will help non-scientists to
threat of this magnitude needs to be treated seriously by everyone.
the past, the actions of people created acid rain that
was destroying lakes and forests. Prompt, remedial action repaired the
situation. The same thing happened with the hole in the ozone
layer. Human action caused the dustbowl era that
did terrible damage in the mid-west in the early 1900s. Conservationists
were able to fix that as well. All these examples, and many more, prove
that careless human activity can cause frightening damage to the environment.
A proper response can fix it as well.
global warming, however, we dont have much time to turn things
around. Seeing the iceberg ahead of time did not save the Titanic.
The momentum was already in place.
do your part. Take this lifestyle challenge as an opportunity
to show the world how heroes respond. It's time to do something.
a risk. What if China and India don't follow suit?" These
words were muttered by a CNN reporter on June 2, 2014.
is only natural to make up flimsy excuses to avoid doing what one prefers
not to do. Children do it all the time, although their efforts can be
adults do it, it is not so charming.
prime example comes from people who question if the United States should
make the effort to combat climate change, because China is now the largest
emitter of carbon into the atmosphere. The fact the US emits 25% of
the world's carbon, and that China's population is more than three times
larger than ours seems to make no difference in their logic. (Compare
per capita emissions.)
I think it comes down to this. When people embrace freedom as a virtue,
it comes with an equal measure of responsibility as well, or it cheapens
freedom to become a mockery of what it should be. Complaining, making
up excuses and dragging feet are not the actions of people who understand
what really freedom is.
is a subtle virtue. Taken at face value, it allows people to do
what they wish, without regard to right and wrong. Even at this level,
however, it separates those who are worthy of freedom, from those who
are not. Some of those who are not find themselves incarcerated because
they break the law. Others may successfully work within the law, but
fail to rise to the moral implications for which a free people should
inspired. They still fall short.
all recognize that freedom has its costs, especially when we patriotically
remember the sacrifices of those who came before us. Our mistake is
in thinking that the cost ends there. It is attached to every decision
that we make in our daily lives. Freedom is rated by what a free people
do and say. We owe not only our thanks to those who fought for our freedom,
but our best efforts in bringing value to their sacrifices.
message is clear. The requirements of freedom, which call not from outside
us but from the depths of personal conscience, demand that we live responsibly,
make decisions prudently, grow wisely, protect the world we live in
as we would protect ourselves and the whole future of humanity. Let
us allow what is best in us to be inspired by freedom, and grow in the
process, instead of being demeaned by the trappings of shortsighted
next revolution, the one that really matters at least, will entail
a new way of thinking, a revolution of the mind that will free
Western civilization from the enslavement of contentious ideologies.
liberated, people discover their own authenticity, a direct vision of
the world based on reason and compassion. A new surge of human potential
will follow. Instead of holding each other back, people will work together
to set everything right.
call this revolution of new consciousness, like others in the past,
a Kairos event.
hope it happens before it is too late
is "cap and trade?"
is an attempt to use a market-based approach to control pollution. Also
called "emissions trading," it provides economic
incentives for to reduce industrial carbon emissions. A carbon production
limit is established for an industry (the "cap")
and permits offered (allowances and carbon credits) to regulate it.
If an industry needs to emit more carbon, it can purchase additional
permits from companies (the "trade") that no
longer need them. In this way, it gives market-based incentives to reduce
can't emit 7 gigatonnes of carbon into the atmosphere
every year and not expect it to effect nature.
This is an appeal to common sense. When we place color dye in
water, the water changes color, right? When we throw 36 billion tons
of carbon into the atmosphere a year, it stands to reason that the composition
of the air changes accordingly. It has more carbon.
What does that mean? It means we are playing with nature on a grand
and dangerous scale. The more people there are, the more oil and coal
that we burn, the more carbon fill the air. Carbon is an invisible gas.
Like any gas or element, it has its own unique attributes. One of those
attributes is to prevent sunlight from reflecting back into space.
This means that the world is getting hotter. The delicate balance of
life is experiencing the stress of irregular weather patterns. The climate
is changing, becoming less hospitable for life as we know it. Since
it takes hundreds of years for this carbon to leave the atmosphere,
the problem worsens as we continue to pollute it. Even small changes
in global temperature can create terrible consequences.
you know that the difference in global temperature between what
we have today and the last Ice Age is only 6 degrees Celsius?
is science - an objective methodology to discover verifiable
fact in the real world. Its value has been proven time and time again.
Everyday, we benefit from scientific knowledge and the technology that
is neither liberal nor conservative. To disparage it
to incite partisan resistance does a terrible disservice to us all -
especially when it comes to climate change! The times call for
serious action. We must all put pollitics aside and do what we must.
Climate Change Means
lot of people have trouble understanding the cause of climate change
- and for good reason. It is a complicated subject. That is no reason
to shirk from it and just hope it goes away. The best course of action,
and the only effective one left it turns out, demands that each of us
recently listened to a 6 hour lecture series on the subject, and was
amazed by all the indisputable scientific evidence we now have. There
simply is no good excuse for denial anymore. I will try to summarize
what I learned.
dioxide, the main culprit of climate change, has a different
opacity than other gases in the air.
It inhibits the reflection of incoming solar energy from returning to
space. This disrupts the normal balance that regulates Earth's climate.
The more carbon in the air, the more heat gets trapped. This begins
a self-sustaining chain-reaction that increases global temperatures
to dangerous levels.
problem is that carbon takes a while to be recycled from the atmosphere.
Water vapor recycles from evaporation to clouds to rain in about a week.
It takes carbon about 5 years. That in itself would not be bad, except
half this carbon gets stuck in the recycling process, and returns to
the atmosphere. It can take several hundred to over 1,000 years
to completely disappear. That is a very slow process.
1860, global temperatures started to be recorded. In 1950, the recordings
were expanded and refined. They show an unprecedented increase of carbon
in the last century that coincided with the Industrial Age. It continues
comparative data, scientists drilled bore-holes in the arctic to identify
and measure gases from hundreds of thousands of years ago. Other sources
include with layers of coral reefs and lake sediments, and even ancient
tree rings. They all supported the same conclusions. The Earth is rapidly
warming in an unnatural speed and manner.
differentiated carbon from volcanoes because it does not contain isotopes.
Measuring the ratio between these isotopes and fossil fuel carbon shows
that the vast increase of recent history are the result of human activity.
(We produce 30 billion tons; volcanoes only 500,000 million.)
more carbon in the atmosphere, the more the warming effect increases,
which will take centuries to remove. The hotter it gets, the more water
vapor forms as clouds, which also serves as a green house gas. This
process is now underway, and cannot be remedied during our lifetimes.
All we can do at this point is slow the process down to avoid the worst
politicians are naturally concerned about the economic ramifications
of corrective action, which is projected to cost 1% of the world's
economy. They ignore the financial impact of not responding, which is
estimated to be 20%.
more carbon in the air, the more heat accumulates. Hotter temperatures
cause more cloud formations, which is a major greenhouse gas. This process
has started and cannot be remedied during our lifetimes. All we can
do now is slow it down to and hope to find ways to stop it completely.
factors are so complex and interconnected, it is impossible to know
all the bad that will happen. We do know that warmer oceans contribute
to major weather events, which will cause extensive property damage
and loss of life. Forest fires will be more intense and frequent. The
rise of sea levels due to melting ice will force human migrations. Some
species are already threatened by a rise in ocean acidity. What we don't
know is what will happen on the microbial level. What will happen to
algae colonies that produce most of the oxygen that we breathe?
implementing new EPA standards is a positive step, much more needs to
be done. Political gridlock prevents the federal government from responding
as it should. We citizens have to mobilize ourselves. 320 million
people in the U.S. alone, conserving energy, can make a sizable difference.
begin by consuming less energy.
aware of your energy usage.
corners when you can.
off unnecessary lights.
your indoor temperature control.
energy-saving light bulbs.
your home or business.
an energy audit and follow its advice.
unnecessary travel. Use mass transit.
vehicle you drive, keep it well-tuned with correctly inflated tires.
sure your next vehicle is energy efficient.
adopting solar energy for your home or business. The initial
investment results in long-term profitability, perfect for retirement
out. Motivate others to follow your example. Contact your representatives
and demand effective action.
the national level, there is no silver bullet that will solve the problems
of climate change. We need to combine a variety of actions, such as
replacing fossil fuel with either natural gas, nuclear energy, wind
turbines, bio-fuels or solar energy. We have to stop deforestation,
and plant more trees to remove carbon from the atmosphere.
we do all these things now, we may be able to curtail the growth of
carbon increase at its present level. This will buy us time to find
and incorporate better solutions.
you have questions about climate change, please take time to investigate
the evidence yourself, which is available online. The consequences
are too important to leave to uninformed opinion.
Chester Energy Task Force Volunteer
Times Call for New Thinking
too long the United States has been trapped by the contagious "either/or"
shenanigans of partisan politics, defining issues according to the senseless,
knee-jerk, myopic kind of reasoning based not on truth but on ideological
contention. The future demands a new way of thinking, a consciousness
liberated from the artificial agendas that have long stained our values.
purpose of Seeds-for-Thought is not to dictate policy or harangue those
who would ruin the nation for short-term profit, but to call stale thinking
into question, inspire people to reject the trappings of partisanship,
and think for themselves.