Imagine: Making Reality What You Want It To Be

March 21, 2016

I realize that we are a long way from where I think we should be. I wrote this article about to inspire imagination.

Imagine a world where everyone individually and collectively did their best to follow the Golden Rule.

We cannot make it so unless we imagine that we can succeed and then strive to make it happen.

Now, just for the halibut, place your doubts, fears and cynicism on hold for a day while you imagine that world and how it would change your life.

Hold that thought.

Sleep.

Try it again tomorrow.

Why not?

Doesn’t hurt and doesn’t cost you anything. You can’t lose by trying.

If it works, share it with your friends.

If it doesn’t, go back to your life.

Remember: meaningful change starts with yourself.

You can’t change unless you want to change and most people don’t want to change unless they are unhappy.

We can’t change others, especially a nation’s foreign policy, unless we change ourselves.

When enough of us have changed, institutional change will come from within and change overnight.

Ironically, being unhappy is necessary to motivate change.

Talk is cheap. Show by example.


Golden Rule should be the guiding principle of U.S. foreign policy

March 20, 2016

A belief in American exceptionalism and a right to exercise dominion and control over the natural and human resources of the planet has produced a catastrophic foreign policy that is destroying the planet. Hillary Clinton, like her mentor and friend Henry Kissinger, is a true believer. Just like him, she believes it’s OK to lie to get what she wants. For example, from an OpEd in Salon by Patrick L. Smith, here is a recent example of her lying to get her way regarding a free trade agreement with Colombia when she was Secretary of State.

“I will do everything I can to urge the Congress to reject the Colombia agreement,” Clinton promised a gathering of communications workers at the time. In the releases of Clinton’s emails last year, we learned that she was simultaneously lobbying hard among members of Congress to get the pact passed—assuring them, among other things, that the rights of Colombian workers would equal or exceed those of U.S. workers.

[Dan] Kaufman [a labor writer in Wisconsin] concludes this pithy passage thus: “According to Escuela National Sindical, a Colombian labor rights group, 105 union activists have been assassinated since the agreement passed.” This is more than 20 a year on average, which computes to nearly a couple of murders a month.

This duplicity happened two years after she supported a 2009 military coup in Honduras that overthrew the democratically elected president Manuel Zelaya by officially recognizing the military as the legitimate government of Honduras. Since then, Honduras has been awash in blood. Berta Caceres y Flores, an environmental activist was murdered earlier this month by a military death squad. Anyone who is suspected of attempting to organize labor unions or, as Caceres did, resist the construction of an environmentally destructive hydroelectric dam, is marked for murder. Small wonder then that thousands of refugees from Honduras are seeking asylum at the Mexican border. Read more about Berta Caceres.

We need to stop the insanity.Destabilizing any foreign government (e.g., Libya: “We came, we saw, he’s dead,” said Hillary referring to Khadafi) to gain control of natural and human resources should be punishable as a war crime.

This is not complicated. The guiding principle of our foreign relations should be the Golden Rule. We should treat other nations the same way we want them to treat us and we should avoid doing things to other nations that we would not want them to do to us.

We also need to confront our past with public hearings conducted by a Truth & Reconciliation Council.

This simple truth has been staring us in the face since our beginnings in Africa approximately 200,000 years ago. We survived the ice ages not because of survival of the fittest, but because we relied on each other. Because of global climate change that we have caused, we are facing another Malthusian bottleneck. We are going to have to ourselves in the other and rely again on each other to survive it.

Predatory capitalism and wars have no role in the future we need to begin envisioning today on the Vernal Equinox — March 20, 2016.

So it shall be written; So it shall be done.


War Against the Poor must end now

December 19, 2015

This article is directed to those who call themselves Christians and anyone else who is interested.

In Matthew 25:31-46 [New International Version (NIV)] Jesus said to his disciples what has come to be known as the parable of the sheep and the goats.

Note that Jesus is not referring to himself when he mentions the ‘Son of Man.’ Instead, he is referring to someone else whom God would send to preside over the coming Kingdom of God on Earth. Jesus was a Jewish rabbi who believed the apocalypse was at hand. In this parable he is explaining what a person must do to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

This parable almost certainly goes back to the historical Jesus because he is telling his disciples that salvation comes to those who perform good acts. He does not mention religion, belief or faith. Indeed, they did not matter to Jesus.

Paul and the early Christians, however, believed acts had nothing to do with salvation. They believed salvation will come to those who believe Jesus died for their sins and was resurrected to eternal life. Therefore, they are unlikely to have made up the parable of the sheep and the goats.

Present day Christians, and others who despise and shun the poor, who believe their acts do not matter because they are saved by their belief in Jesus as their lord and savior who died for their sins are in for a rude awakening. Their reward will be eternal damnation.

And no amount of wishing it were otherwise matters a whit.

If they want a shot at the eternal life they so dearly hope for, they need to stop hating and demonizing the poor and start following the Golden Rule.

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you (positive version) or do not do to others what you would not want them to do to you.

In Mark 12: 30-31 [New International Version (NIV)], the historical Jesus also said in response to a question about which of the commandments was most important,

30 “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’. There is no commandment greater than these.”

Additional Reading: Ehrman, Bart D. The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth (2013)


Pope Francis reminds us about what matters

September 24, 2015

Neither building walls nor hunting down and deporting millions of immigrants is the answer to the refugee crisis.

In a speech to both houses of Congress this morning, Pope Francis said,

“Our world is facing a refugee crisis of a magnitude not seen since the Second World War. This presents us with great challenges and many hard decisions. We must not be taken aback by their numbers, but rather view them as persons, seeing their faces and listening to their stories, trying to respond as best we can to their situation. To respond in a way which is always humane, just and fraternal. We need to avoid a common temptation nowadays: to discard whatever proves troublesome. Let us remember the Golden Rule: ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.'”

Deceptively simple, but so very true.

“Do not judge, lest you be judged.” (Matthew 7, 1-3)

“There but for the grace of God, go I.” (Uttered by John Bradford)

May we turn the page today and begin a new tomorrow based on respectful good faith dialogue to reach solutions that benefit the many instead of feeding the greed of the self-interested few.

He also called for an end to the death penalty, respect for all life, an end to income inequality and cooperation to end human-caused climate change.

He praised four Americans: Abraham Lincoln, Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., Dorothy Day and Thomas Merton.

Dorothy Day was an American socialist.


Just because we are natural born killers does not mean we are not good people

September 18, 2014

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Good morning:

The significance of the recent scientific study published in Nature, which found that chimpanzees are natural-born killers, is that killing has a genetic basis. They did not learn that behavior from humans or choose to be that way. They are genetically predisposed to kill because, via natural selection, that predisposition has resulted in a competitive advantage for scarce resources and reproduction compared to chimpanzees that do not have that predisposition.

We need only look to our own culture and past to realize that we have the same genetic predisposition.

The Boston Globe reports:

It can be tempting to take a dark view of the violent behavior of chimpanzees, but Joan Silk, a professor in the School of Human Evolution and Social Change at Arizona State University, said discovering the origins of human behaviors in other animals is not the same as learning our destiny.

“How do animals resolve conflict is interesting,” Silk said. “How do animals find out ways to cooperate? Those are general principles from which we can learn a lot, but it doesn’t mean we’re expecting them to be the same across species. I study baboons, and I love them dearly, but they do all kinds of things I think are sort of uncivilized. If they were my kids, I’d be very distressed.”

We are finally beginning to understand that human behavior has a genetic basis. That is, we are predisposed to act in certain ways, despite our race, ethnicity, language and culture.

A predisposition to kill when vital resources are scarce is a competitive advantage. In times of plenty, it’s a competitive disadvantage.

Empathy is a competitive advantage during times of scarcity because survival is enhanced by living in a peer-to-peer cooperative relationship with others.

Individuals cannot long survive unless they belong to a group and groups cannot survive without the informed consent and cooperation of their individual members.

Mutual respect and dignity promote harmony and cooperation in times of scarcity and plenty.

Greed and exploitation of others never do. They promote discord and ultimately cause chaos.

This is why living the Golden Rule and democracy are a better model for living than a corporation that exploits other people and the environment for profit and has no accountability for the harm it causes.

Survival of the fittest is not a law. It’s only a prediction of the outcome of a fight.


Reject neoliberalism and resuscitate the fundamental right to human dignity

July 10, 2014

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Good afternoon:

The time has come for all the people of the world to reject neoliberalism and its fundamental assumptions that greed and exploitation of people, resources and the environment serve the greater good. Instead, they serve an ever diminishing group of supremely selfish parasites who enrich themselves at the expense of everyone else.

In his State of the Union address to Congress on January 6, 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt identified four essential freedoms:

“In the future days, which we seek to make secure, we look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms.

The first is freedom of speech and expression—everywhere in the world.

The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way—everywhere in the world.

The third is freedom from want—which, translated into world terms, means economic understandings which will secure to every nation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants—everywhere in the world.

The fourth is freedom from fear—which, translated into world terms, means a world-wide reduction of armaments to such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor—anywhere in the world.

Human dignity is the basis of the four essential freedoms.

Each human being has a right to dignity.

We must recognize and enshrine this right for all time together with the Golden Rule by which we assure it by our deeds:

That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow.

We know about freedom of speech and religion. They are protected by the First Amendment to our Constitution.

Freedom from want means the right to a job and a guaranteed living wage with benefits, including universal health care. The government should be the employer of last resort to assure that anyone who wants to work will have a job compensated by a living wage with benefits. That wage shall be the minimum wage.

Exploitation of labor shall be prohibited.

Freedom from want shall also include the right to a free education.

Freedom from fear means outlawing aggressive wars and prosecuting those who initiate them.

There shall be no right for a nation to start a war in preemptive self-defense.

This is our 1126th post. If you appreciate what we do, please toss some money into the hat. We need it to keep the lights on.

Thank you,

Fred


Greed is a false god

April 20, 2014

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Good morning:

Today is Easter Sunday.

Whether or not you celebrate Easter, resurrection is an ancient myth that was old before humans invented writing. The Ancient Egyptian story of the resurrection of Osiris dates back to a time long before Menes unified the Two Lands creating the fabled Old Kingdom of Egypt in approximately 3,000 BC.

Jesus was a rabbi and the core principle of his teachings is the Golden Rule:

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Rabbi Hillel, who lived and died before Jesus was born, expressed the Golden Rule:

“That which is hateful to you, do not do to another. That is the whole Law. The rest is commentary. Now go and learn.”

Greed is one of the seven deadly sins and incompatible with the Golden Rule.

Nevertheless, greed is the so-called invisible hand that regulates the free market and, according to neoliberals, the only acceptable form of regulation. Not only is unrestricted greed an acceptable business plan, it has become the only acceptable business plan. Thus, has greed been accorded godlike status.

And we wonder why the world is so messed up.

On this day that we celebrate resurrection and rebirth, we would do well to recommit ourselves to living the Golden Rule. Believing it is not enough. Breath it. Live it. Become it, now.

Rabbi Hillel also said,

“If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am not for others, what am I? And if not now, when?”

We are in this together.

Greed is not a path to prosperity. It is a path to corruption, exploitation, enslavement and chaos.

We all know know it.

Now let’s do something about it.


%d bloggers like this: