God’s Plan

If you believe the Biblical story of creation as described in Genesis, have you ever considered it to be the justification for a Holy War against Nature? And since we are, despite our denials, a part of Nature then this Holy War extends to all of Humanity and ultimately ourselves. Since the dawn of human civilization Mankind has been engaged in all out war against Nature (ourselves included) and if we carry it out to its logical conclusion we must, inevitably, bring about out own extinction. Unless we surrender, it’s the only possible outcome.

Other species have survival instincts but like good soldiers, we have trained and conditioned ourselves to disregard our basic instincts. Instead we have developed an almost instinctive propensity for self-destruction. Man is the only species to have ever developed a myriad of ways to potentially bring about its own demise. No other species has ever had that capacity. Is self-extinction God’s plan for us?

Here’s something else to consider. If your God created the Earth (or by extension, the Universe) just for us then why is everything He created for us trying to kill us?

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Moving Forward

As individuals, as a society, as a nation, it behooves us to keep moving forward, to keep evolving as an intelligent species. We can neither stand still nor can we move backward. If you are not moving forward then you are falling behind. There are no other options. The United States is on the verge of becoming a backward nation, much closer to the edge that most of us realize or care to admit.

We can make America great again but only by moving forward through well thought out, progressive, and positive change. We cannot achieve greatness if we fall behind the rest of the world. Following the rhetoric of the conservative demagogues will only lead us to disaster and self-destruction. We cannot return to the past. The past only exists as history; we cannot reclaim it.

Good Guy With a Gun – Thanks but no thanks

The other night I watched a segment on The Daily Show about what it actually takes to be the “good guy with a gun” who can theoretically stop the “bad guy with a gun”. For starters, statistically the good guy with a gun only gets the bad guy about three percent of the time. It takes more than eight hours in a classroom or on a range and having a loaded gun at your disposal. One requires a lot of training with countless drills, simulations, and scenarios over and over again until they become ingrained, before one can hope to successfully take on an active shooter or survive a fire fight. The average good guy with a gun simply doesn’t have the resources to do that. Neither does the average school teacher that everyone is so anxious to outfit with a handgun or an assault rifle.

The amateur good guy with a gun is more than likely going to shoot an innocent person, cause substantial property damage, become a prime target for the shooter and get himself shot, or be mistaken for the shooter by the police and get shot by by them. There could be another good guy with a gun who mistakes the first good guy with a gun for the shooter.

No thanks, but I’d prefer to leave my life in the hands of trained professionals, not an amateur self-proclaimed Rambo. Maybe businesses, schools, and other institutions should train people what to do in an active shooter situation and how to increase their odds of survival.

Stricter gun control laws and designating gun-free zones won’t solve the problem but they are certainly part of the solution. Calmer heads need to prevail and cut through all the emotion and the rhetoric on both sides of the issue. There needs to be a major shift in attitudes about guns and violence in general. The America of the late 18th century was a very different place than what it is now. Then a gun was often a necessary survival tool used to hunt food, defend oneself, provide provide for one’s own security. The importance of a gun as a tool has decreased since then. Maybe it’s time to take a new look at the Second Amendment and perhaps redefine the terms.

I don’t own a gun and it’s probably been more than 25 years since I’ve handled one. I’ve had the training and I know that the controlled conditions on a firing range are much different than a real-life shooting situation. On the range, there is no one shooting back at you and you don’t have to make split-second decisions as you evaluate the situation and your target. I have never had to point a weapon at someone and decide whether that person would live or die and I hope I never have to.

I do not own a gun and, at this time, I have no intention to acquire one. That could change but it would be a very carefully considered decision. A gun is a lethal weapon whose only purpose is to kill and once the trigger is pulled there is no way to undo whatever happens when that round finds its target which may or may not have been the one you intended. Owning a weapon is a huge responsibility and I’m not sure that many gun owners are fully cognizant of the enormity of that responsibility or the potential consequences should you actually use that weapon.

Thanksgiving, 2015

Today I am celebrating Thanksgiving and expressing gratitude for the blessings that I have in my life.

Despite the stories, the myths, and the controversies that surround this holiday and what it represents to many people, I pause to reflect on the people who participated in what we refer to as the first thanksgiving which was more than likely a simple harvest feast. I think of the hardships my Pilgrim ancestors faced, arriving in a strange land in the fall of the year with only what they were able bring with them on the Mayflower and few provisions. Half of the ship’s passengers did not survive that harsh winter. I can’t begin to imaged what it must have been like or what it took to endure it. I also think about the hardships endured by many other ancestors since that time. As I reflect on my ancestors and their trials, I have a greater appreciation for what I have.

In the course of tracing my ancestry, I have come across many amazing stories and contributions to history. For the most part I’m proud of my heritage. However, I’ve learned not to judge my ancestors. They were not perfect. They were doing the best they could with what they had. Looking back at history, we can see that they made mistakes along with their triumphs just like when our descendants a century from now will look back our our lives and see our mistakes and our triumphs.

It does us nor our descendants any good to sugar-coat our history or to make it politically correct to suit our current sensibilities. We need to take history for what it is, even if it’s uncomfortable, and to learn from it so that we may try to be more enlightened than they were, hopefully to make a better world for those who follow in our footsteps

. I firmly believe that it is the responsibility of each succeeding generations to be more knowledgeable, a bit wiser, a bit more enlightened than the generation that preceded them. I have hope that my children and my grandchildren will be wiser and more enlightened than I am. I hope that they learn from both my successes and my failures. I hope they will see where I have erred and strive to do better. This is what I have striven to do in my life.

Remembrance Day 2015

Today is Veteran’s Day,  known as Remembrance Day in other countries that participated in “The Ware to end all Wars.” I feel Remembrance Day is a more appropriate. It’s a day for remembering, with solemnity, the sacrifices made by all those who have worn the uniform of their respective country, particularly those who made the ultimate sacrifice and laid down their lives. All who have worn their nation’s uniform have made sacrifices, some willingly, some less than willingly.

This day originally commemorated the Armistice that concluded the War to end all Wars. I think about the six hours that elapsed between the signing of the Armistice and when it took effect. As of 5 AM, November 11, 1918, the war was effectively over and there was no tactical or strategic advantage to be gained by either side. Yet soldiers were ordered into combat for one final battle and thousands died so that the generals might gain symbolic victories to bolster their egos and their war records.

It’s a harsh and unfortunate reality that soldiers die for duty, honor, and a cause they believe in but no soldier should ever have to lay down his life for the glory or petty vanity of a general or a politician. At the 11th hour today, please observe a moment of silence for all who have made the supreme sacrifice for their countries and pray that they died for a noble cause and didn’t die in vain or for vanity.

Please don’t wish me a “Happy Veterans’ Day” on this solemn occasion as the day is not a cause for celebration. And don’t thank me for my service. I’m uncomfortable with that and all the rhetoric that surrounds it. If I served to defend your freedom then I apparently failed in my task.

Freedom isn’t free but it doesn’t come from the barrel of a gun. Freedom comes from ordinary citizens responsibly exercising their rights of free speech and assembly, their right to air their grievances and to vote for their representatives and leaders. Freedom comes from holding our elected officials accountable for their actions when they fail to serve the citizens. As a nation we have already handed over far too much of our freedom to elected officials owned by corporations and special interests in exchange for hollow promises of security. We are no safer and we are no longer free. We are a nation living in fear and a nation living is fear is not a free nation.

Freedom isn’t free … every citizen has to work for it.

14 Years Later

Yes, it’s the 14th anniversary of 9/11 terrorist attack and I’ve tried my hardest to avoid taking in all the rhetoric that’s built up over the last fourteen years. It was tragic. It was a wake up call. We needed to take action.

But after 14 years, what have we accomplished? What have we learned? Are we any safer? Are we any less afraid? Are we any freer? The answers are nothing, nothing, no, no and no.

I saw something today in which somebody said that the attack “woke us up.” Yes, it did. Then the government said, “Not to worry. We’ll take care of everything and we’ll keep you safe, no matter what the cost.” We responded, “Thank you, Uncle Sam. We trust you’ll do the right thing and keep us safe, whatever it takes.” Then we went back to sleep.

No, we shouldn’t forget what happened that day. We should remember those who died and those who responded to the call. But have we paid too much for the illusion of safety? We need to end our paranoia and stop living in fear. We are not, and cannot be, the land of the free if we are living in fear. No one who lives in fear is free. Let go of our fear and dare to be free!

Decision Time

Thought of the day: “Our species has a clear choice. We can either evolve toward enlightenment or de-evolve and face certain extinction by our own hands.”

I don’t feel there’s much in the way of some middle ground on that, no middle path, no maintaining the status quo. You’re either moving forward and evolving or you’re falling behind and bringing about your own extinction. That’s what evolution is about, adapt or become extinct. Extinction is the rule, not the exception. As a species, we can read the writing on the wall yet we refuse to believe it. I’m certain the cause of the eventual extinction of Homo sapiens will be man-made. We’ll finally see it at the very last moment but then it will be too late. Once we are gone, Nature will correct our mistakes and erase all evidence that we ever existed.

There will be no Rapture, no Second Coming. The Heavenly Kingdom we seek is all around us. We are already in Heaven. We are surrounded by Paradise yet we don’t see it because we have made ourselves blind to Truth.