Happy birthday, Mr. Jefferson

Happy 274th birthday to Thomas Jefferson. I’m sure it would sadden you, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, James Madison, and the other founding fathers to see what the nation you founded has become. The people have become complacent and have elected ignorant fools to represent and govern them. Not only have the people ignored your warnings, they have embraced the very things you warned them against. In their ignorance, they believe that the erasure of the principles and the vision this country was founded upon will somehow make this country great. Nothing could be further from the truth. The ignorance and fear that dominates our politics and our culture will be our downfall, the end of our experiment with democracy, and will likely usher in a new age of tyranny and despotism. If you thought King George was bad, King Donald and his court of fools will be much worse.

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How to make America great

Here’s a short list of what will make America great:

  • Kindness
  • Compassion
  • Service
  • Gratitude
  • Diversity
  • Progress

I saw nor heard any of these ideas in either in Donald Trump’s campaign rhetoric or in the Republican Party’s platform. Institutionalized ignorance, hate, bigotry, racism, xenophobia, and misogyny are not the elements of greatness. Rather, they will impede our rise to greatness. Greatness can only be achieved by moving forward, not by moving backwards. Under the newly elected leadership, it is very likely that America will fall further behind the rest of the world in every conceivable measure of greatness. We may be dooming ourselves to becoming a third-world-like nation and future Presidents will face the overwhelming challenge of catching up with the rest of the deveoloped world. Coming from behind is always a daunting task and we may never again command the world stage.

Calling yourself great does not make you great, others outside your own circle must recognize your greatness. Global cooperation is the way of the future. Isolationism in a global economy is surely economic suicide.  Building walls is not the answer. America’s diversity has always been one of its greatest assets. Nobody is superior to anyone else. We are all connected and we are all in this together.

We must put aside our fears. We fear what we don’t understand. To overcome our fear, we need to seek knowledge, understanding, and wisdom so that we can overcome our anger and our hate.

I’m not offended

I’m a veteran and I am not offended by Colin Kaepernick and other athletes refusal to stand during the national anthem. It’s their First Amendment right to engage in peaceful protest and I support that. It should also be noted that I have not given them permission to offend me. I cannot be offended with my consent.

“Patriotism means being loyal to your country all the time and to its government when it deserves it.” – Mark Twain.

With that in mind, I don’t feel he’s being disrespectful. He is is protesting what he sees as the institutionalized wrongs being done against people of color in this country. It doesn’t matter that he, himself, is not being oppressed. What matters is that he feels compassion and empathy for those who are being treated wrongly by the system. His protest has nothing to do with veterans, those who have died in service to the country, or with anyone currently serving in the military.

The “American” values that many of those who are offended hold so dear apply to all Americans without regard to race, color, ethnicity, nationality, gender, sexual preference, or any other arbitrary criteria, Equal protection and opportunity under the law applies to everyone.

Patriotism is more than waving the flag and supporting the military and veterans. The military exists to support national policy as set by the President and backed by Congress. Sometimes national policy is in defense of freedom and the American way but more often it is to defend American political and economic interests. I am not convinced that most of the men and women in the military today are actively defending our freedom. Rather, they are following orders based on political and economic interests .

The greatest threats to our freedoms and liberties are not Islamic states and terrorist groups in some distant corner of the world. The greatest threats are to be found within our borders and they are not illegal immigrants, refugees, Muslims, or LGBTQ people. The real threats to our freedom are the very people we have elected to represent and lead us. They feel that they no longer need to be held accountable to their constituencies, the people who actually go to the polls and elect them. Instead, they pander to special interests, multi-national corporations, Wall Street tycoons, political parties, and the richest of the rich.

It is time to hold them accountable. We need to question their policies and their agendas. If they are not representing our interests, then it is out responsibility to remove them from office through the ballot box. Educate yourselves on the bills that are before Congress and the state legislatures. Monitor their voting records. Write and call their offices. Make your voices heard. Base your votes on how well they represent you, not whether they are Republicans or Democrats. If they’re not doing their job, then vote someone else in. We, the voters, have to power to set term limits.

End of Capitalism?

The End of Capitalism Has Begun was interesting although a bit difficult to read. I really don’t understand the economic theories and all that, but I’ve been observing and predicting the fall of American-style capitalism for several years. Capitalism, particularly the American model, has been in a state of decline for a long time. It is collapsing in much the same manner as Soviet Communism collapsed in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Soviet-style communism collapsed under the weight of the infrastructure required to maintain it. Interestingly enough, American-style capitalism requires essentially the same political and social infrastructure to survive and the cost of that infrastructure is not sustainable.

What will replace it? Some form or socialism? That’s hard to say. My vision is self-sufficient networks of agrarian communities. Large cities are likely to wither away unless they can implement agriculture in some form and produce for themselves most of what they need. No community will be able to produce all that it needs so there will need to be fair trade among these communities. Societies will have to get back to basics and forgo many of the luxuries we take for granted now. Cooperation rather than competition will have to be the driving force in the new economy.

It isn’t free

The United States was once a great nation, reaching its zenith in the post World War II years as we became “The” superpower. Sadly, we are now a nation in rapid decline, desperately trying to grasp onto our former glory.

I think we began to lose our credibility on the world stage during the Vietnam era. The events of September 11, 2001 were the catalyst that triggered our impending collapse and made us very afraid. Every day since those attacks we have been living in fear and desperation. Every move the government and the economy has made has been founded upon that fear.

On that day, we lost our freedom, not to a group of terrorists but to our own countrymen. We willingly handed it to the very people we elected to represent us and maintain our freedom. There never needs to be an other act of Jihadist terrorism on American soil because on 9/11 they won the war with one swift blow. The government picked up where the terrorists left off and proceeded to erode our freedoms one by one.

I am certain American-style capitalism will go the way of Soviet-style communism. It is unsustainable and will collapse under the weight of the infrastructure required to maintain it. Ironically, it’s the same infrastructure with different names applied. Essentially, Capitalism and Communism are different points on the same spectrum and it eventually circles around and becomes the same thing. Our best economic paradigm probably lies somewhere in the middle with a balanced mix of capitalism and socialism.

The phrase “Freedom isn’t free” is tossed around so much these days that it has become an almost meaningless cliché. Freedom certainly is not free and giving your life for it may be the ultimate price. However, it’s not just our service men and women that are called upon to pay the price of freedom. We all have a share in that cost. As citizens we have a duty and an obligation to be educated and knowledgeable about the government that represents us and to hold them accountable for their actions and their decisions. We need to call them out when they do things that are detrimental to the nation and in opposition to the needs of their constituency. Ultimately, we are all responsible for the actions of our government through the decisions we make at the polls via our votes. Choosing not to vote is essentially a vote to agree with the results of the election because you simply don’t care.

We pay an even higher price for living in fear. When you live in fear you are not free at all and that fear will ultimately cost you your soul as an individual, as a society, and as a nation. Benjamin Franklin said that those willing to trade liberty for the illusion of safety and security deserve neither. I fully agree and I would add that if you’re religiously inclined, trading freedom and liberty for the illusion of safety and security is a deal with the Devil and the price you pay will be your soul. I mean that metaphorically but if you follow certain religious persuasions then perhaps you should take that literally.

The Gospel of Palin

Here’s yet another reason why John McCain lost my vote after Sarah Palin was selected as his running mate. I recently read that in an interview with Fox and Friends she claimed that Jesus celebrated Easter during his time on Earth.

So Jesus celebrated his own death and resurrection? Or perhaps he took part in pagan fertility rites, dancing naked around a fire? There were no “Christian” holidays during the time of Jesus as there were not yet any Christians. He and his disciples were Jews and celebrated Jewish holy days. All of our “Christian” holidays are actually pagan observances that were appropriated by the Church in order to convert the pagans.

The Gospel of Palin
“When Jesus celebrated Easter with his disciples there were no Easter bunnies or egg hunts. There were no Easter sales at department stores or parades in the street. Easter was a special time of prayer and Christian activism.”Jesus would gather all the townspeople around and would listen to their stories about the meaning of Easter in their lives. Then he would teach them how to love one another, how to protest Roman abortion clinics and how to properly convert homosexuals.

“You can’t even do things like that these days without getting called out by some wacko left-wing human rights group. Christians had more freedom under Roman rule than we do now in our own country! We need to return Easter back to the way it was when Jesus was alive.”

“Easter celebrates, you know, sticking it to all the liberal lefties out there who want to be taking our guns and our freedom. It celebrates the rights of the unborn and the right to religious freedom, to not have government come in and tell you who to believe in and who not to …”

A couple of my favorite comments to the article:

  • Is it just me, or are most atheists and agnostics more familiar with the Bible than most Christians?
    • It isn’t just you. Several studies have revealed atheists to have a much better understanding of religion, and its history, than believers. Atheists don’t turn away from religion because they lack information.

To quote the Gospel of Palin: “We need to return Easter back to the way it was when Jesus was alive.” Since that would have been a pagan fertility festival, I don’t have a problem with that statement. At the time of Jesus, neither Christianity nor the commemoration of his death and resurrection existed. Neither would exist for many years after the fact.

While the news story is a fake, it is certainly typical of the absurdities espoused by politicians (mostly Republicans). I hear stupidity from the Democrats as well but the Republicans seem to have turned absurdity, stupidity and ignorance into an art form.

Source: Sarah Palin Claims Jesus Celebrated Easter

Liberal lefties? Do conservatives consider left-handed liberals to be more threatening than right-handed liberals? How do they feel about ambidextrous liberals? And just so you conservative Christians know, Jesus was a liberal. His teachings and ideas are still considered liberal.

Meditation Induces Liberal Attitudes

Moments of Spirituality Can Induce Liberal Attitudes

This study by the University of Toronto indicates that people become more politically liberal immediately after practicing a spiritual exercise such as meditation.

“There’s great overlap between religious beliefs and political orientations,” says one of the study authors, Jordan Peterson of U of T’s Department of Psychology. “We found that religious individuals tend to be more conservative and spiritual people tend to be more liberal. Inducing a spiritual experience through a guided meditation exercise led both liberals and conservatives to endorse more liberal political attitudes.”

While religiousness is characterized by devotion to a specific tradition, set of principles, or code of conduct, spirituality is associated with the direct experience of self-transcendence and the feeling that we’re all connected,” says lead author Jacob Hirsh of U of T’s Rotman School of Management.

“Spiritual experiences seem to make people feel more of a connection with others,” says Hirsh. “The boundaries we normally maintain between ourselves and the world tend to dissolve during spiritual experiences. These feelings of self-transcendence make it easier to recognize that we are all part of the same system, promoting an inclusive and egalitarian mindset.”

Now that I think about it, I don’t know a lot of ultra-conservatives who do yoga.  As for the people I know who do yoga, I really don’t know their political persuasions although some do seem to be on the liberal side. Me, I’m pretty much apolitical, preferring the middle path.