Monday, September 30, 2013

More Evidence of Global Warming…Urgent Warnings Means What?

So, we now have more evidence that Global Warming is in fact human induced.  An official UN report tells us so.  According to an astute scientific panel, it is indeed very likely that we’re doing it to ourselves!  Yes, we are responsible for climate change.  Connect the dots.  There’s no denying it.  We have a direct link to Global Warming.

Yet, for so long, and with such intensity, we have been constantly hearing the very opposite by contrary voices—that there is no real evidence for Global Warming, that it is scientifically unverifiable that we humans are contributing to climate change, that to say so is a mere scam to rip off the people, and so-on and so-forth.

The reality is that those who oppose the very idea of accepting Global Warming as a fact, let alone accepting any human responsibility for it, are the same big, powerful, money and corporate people that stand to shoulder a great deal of responsibility and blame, when confronted with reality—that their own business practices have directly fed into the Global Warming phenomena (though, admittedly, we all are to share some degree of blame, given the lifestyle that we have chosen to embrace at the expense of good ecological earth management.

Now we are being told that it is urgent we act now, immediately!  Or, we shall soon see terrible traumatic effects on our weather patterns, our sea-levels, and a dramatic change in the arctic region.  Duh!  Honest good-hearted scientists of integrity have been trying to warn us of this reality for decades now.  But they were effectively told to shut up!  Until now, I suppose.

We must immediately reverse decades of global greenhouse gas emissions, which are accumulating in the atmosphere and are a direct link to the cause of Global Warming.  We must find and use the technology, funding, and the social/political will to reverse the trend of climate change and build what is called a new “low carbon society.”

But here’s a question, who is going to pay for it?  I’ll give you a hint.  It won’t be the rich and powerful or the mega companies and corporations whose industrial polluting actions have been, and continue to be, the major contributing factor in our Global Warming phenomena.

And just how exactly are we going to combat this climate change phenomena?  Obviously it is a national, domestic and private, as well as multi-corporate and international problem, a problem for all of us on planet earth.  But, what then are the specifics for addressing this global problem?  What kinds of sacrifices are we going to have to make?   What!  Make sacrifices?  Most likely, yes!  But who exactly will be bearing the brunt of the most extreme sacrificial acts that will be demanded of humanity in order to prevent global warming disasters?  Take a guess.

My guess is that the very same people that have forestalled and persistently denied and constantly countered the reality and existence of Global Warming in the first place, will also be the same people who will most resist accepting any responsibility for making any sacrifices toward correcting the phenomena, yet will have been most directly linked in having created this climate change crisis by virtue of their industrial business practices from the get-go.  It’s called, “Take the money and run.”  Even so, it is still true that we all share responsibility and blame for this global crisis.  For, most of us continue to be quite complacent about it.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Political Sore Losers Throwing Tantrums Instead of Doing Real Governing

It used to be that when a given party won—got elected, passed a law, or carried a vote in their favor—the other party would accept it as a fait accompli, a done deed, an accomplished fact; the only logical, reasonable response was to deal with it, work with it, and make the best of it.  Am I wrong?

It used to be that the guy who lost would acknowledge defeat, shake hands respectfully, and wish the winner good luck and Godspeed.  Was this not so?

In other words, there was no allowance for poor losers, let alone any respect for them.  Apparently this has changed.  It seems now that we must not only tolerate but actually applaud sore losers.

A party loses the vote.  They didn’t get what they want.  So what do they do?  They stomp their feet in protest and whine and cry.  They vilify the winning side, calling them ruinous and disastrous for the country.  They swear oaths to sabotage, topple, and overturn their political opponents’ every action and every move, at every turn, every step of the way.  In other words they refuse to accept the winner as a winner and childishly thwart the winner’s every effort to make something work well.

There was a time in which the value of a good name meant maturity and respectability, wisdom and good sense, which in turn prevented one from “acting out” in an immature manner.  And so, one was not to be a sore loser and was to avoid such things as throwing a temper-tamper in public or pouting and whining, simply because one did not win or get what one had hoped for.  One was to be decent and respectable.

Not anymore.  Today’s political losers are not only sore losers they are vengeful losers.  They not only scream and pout; they throw things and break things.  They kick and obstruct.  They throw fits of anger and commit themselves to sabotage, regardless of effect or consequence.  This is what we are seeing in the face of Obama Care.

We, the people, need to say to them: Enough already!  Quit the whining!  Stop your temper-tantrums!

Obama Care passed.  So deal with it.  Work with it and make it better.  Quit trying to throw out the baby with the bathwater just because things did not go your way.  Dig in and try to make our nation’s health care system beneficial to all.  Make Obama Care worthwhile.  Fix it by coming up with modifications that makes it truly serviceable.  In other words, be positive and constructive about it, rather than simply blocking, negating, and being obstructive.

Stop acting like spoiled rotten overgrown children and become the mature, balanced, measured, and wise adults you are supposed to be, as congressional representatives of this supposedly great nation.  Run this country!  Address its needs.  Put your minds together to do something positive, to build instead of tear down, to construct instead of destroy, to tweak and make better instead of trash and burn.  Just do it, and do it now.

Monday, September 16, 2013

"In All Things, Charity..."

In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity – this quote is attributed to St. Augustine (born 4th Century).  He speaks of the church needing to apply this principle in the face of its many disagreements on points of doctrine, practices, and lifestyle choices, etc.

You more than likely have heard this quote repeated, especially in a church or community association, seeking unity in the face of severe disagreement and diversity.  Perhaps you’ve even quoted it yourself.

The premise is quite simple really.  There are essentials and there are non-essentials.  The foundation, the core, the one unifying factor that gives the group its core identity, that is, the essential element, is non-negotiable.  For, to change it is to change the very essence of what it is.  Everything else is negotiable.

But the second part is just as important: “in all things, charity.”  That is, even if someone disagrees with your core essential(s), you should still maintain charity towards that person(s).  It’s the way of Christ.  That is, one should maintain a caring, compassionate, considerate, and respectful attitude toward the one with whom you vehemently disagree.  (Note: The word “charity” is too old-fashioned and now simply means the giving of a helping-hand to someone in need, and substituting the word “love” for charity doesn’t work well either because that word, love, is too flippant and easily dismissed these days.)

And so, it amazes me to see so much anger, hatred, and demonizing going on even from Christian voices regarding their opponents in the political, social, or economic arena.  They not only disagree with their opponent, they literally seem to hate the guy (whoever “the guy” may be), and react as if their social political opponent is the devil himself in disguise.  Yet, if any group of people should demonstrate respect and courtesy towards those with whom they disagree it should be followers of Christ, regardless of political persuasion.  For, truth be told, as Christians, the Way of Christ and God’s Kingdom principles should be given first and foremost priority above all else.

Ideally, it would be nice to see such an attitude of authentic respect and consideration for one’s opponent modeled at the highest levels of government—in Congress, in the Senate, and in the Executive Office.  Short of that, anyone who claims to be a Christian should be leading out in practicing this principle, “in all things, charity.”  That is, stop vilifying and demeaning and defaming the person or character of those with whom we disagree just because we don’t like their position or cause.  Do have passion for your own position or cause, but don’t turn that passion into hatred of those who oppose you.

There is good reason why Jesus said that his followers must be the salt of the earth and the light of the world.  But if we don’t rise above worldly attitudes and worldly ways, the salt has truly lost its saltiness and the light has grown dim if not fully flickered off.

Monday, September 9, 2013

A Military Strike against Syria? I'm Not Convinced

Shall we or shall we not?  Is it justifiable?

Few would disagree with the fact that the Assad regime’s chemical attack against its own people is morally reprehensible.  It is despicable.  I agree.  It cannot be condoned and should not be tolerated.

Nevertheless, my first question is this: does the responsibility to chastise Assad and his government solely fall on American, U.S. shoulders; and if so, why?  Is this not a truly global and international responsibility?

And, if the world governments, including the likes of Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea, e.g., are willing to tolerate Assad’s use of chemical weaponry, then we have to ask, what are the deeper issues going on here, such that these governments are willing to turn a blind eye to this deplorable act?

For example, apparently Russia doubts the reports that Assad’s regime used chemical weaponry against its own people, rejecting the evidence as inconclusive.  Okay, I therefore ask the same question, put in a different way: Why would a country like Russia choose to reject what seems to be the obvious and side with a government that they know has been both murderous and oppressive of their own people?  What does Russia gain by stubbornly supporting Assad against the majority of world opinion?  That is to say that there are deeper issues here that I want more fully explained.

What is this really about?  Is not the real story about the powers behind the renegade Assad regime?  Assad’s government is petty, compared to the outside powers aiding and supporting him (such as Russia or Iran or even China).  Thus, would it not be more efficient and effective for Obama to get to the heart of the matter with the likes of Russia and China, e.g., rather then running around trying to convince members of our own legislative houses to support a U.S. limited strike against Syria?

In support of this so-called limited strike, I hear such things as, the regime has crossed the line and our credibility is at stake.  Or that it is a moral issue and we must therefore send a clear message that the use of chemical weapons against one’s own people is not to be tolerated.  And that our national interest is at stake.  Still, I wonder, how is acting like a national moral police-force in the Middle East supposed to be in our best interest—while other nations passively look on, approvingly or disapprovingly?

It seems to me that there are larger and more serious undergirding issues at play here that we citizens are not readily speaking about or being informed about.  What in fact is the essential core of our national interest in the Middle East?  A military solution seems always to be the only answer in a Middle Eastern crisis; why is our role in the Middle East always reduced to a military one (remember Ronald Reagan’s presidency and his Marines sent to Beirut fiasco)?    There are many interests in the Middle East—Russia, China, Iran, Israel, oil—what are we not being informed about respecting these powerful interests in the Middle East?  And so, why, for example, do we continually fail to win over a country like Russia, which historically has been as much a “Western” country as it has been otherwise?

So for me, not to strike Syria is not a question of becoming isolationist, as if we’re in danger of becoming mere “spectators to a slaughter.”  Limited military strike or not, there is more to this whole Middle Eastern policy than meets the eye.  Besides, what does “limited” mean anyway?  A punch in the nose is a punch in the nose, an attack is an attack, and a fight is a fight, limited or otherwise; fights cannot be contained or limited, they must be stopped, resolved and brought to an end.

So, as an average Joe American Citizen, I am not convinced.  For me, none of the given reasons are sufficient in themselves, or even collectively, in defense of striking:
  • It is argued that we shall suffer a loss of credibility or loss of face and that our allies will be disappointed in us, worrying that we will not really be there for them in the future….  This is a lame argument and very unconvincing to me.

  • It is argued that not to strike may cause regional instability.  I doubt it very much.  It’s already unstable.  A limited strike such as is now being considered may even have the opposite effect and cause even more instability.  For example, our starting the war in Iraq did just that.

  • It is argued that inaction will embolden enemy-nations, such as Korea or Iran.  I don’t think so.  On the other hand, a miss-applied or miscalculated limited strike on Syria may continue to give these countries more reason to denounce us and refuse future possibilities of serious negotiations for lessoning the overall posturing of hostility.

  • It is argued that not to take action against Syria at this time poses a national security threat to us.  Really!  How so?  Please spell it out for me because I don’t see how?

  • And it is argued that Assad’s regime needs to be chastised and put in its place.  True, but by whom?  Should it not be chastised by the whole international community and not just the United States?
So, I’m just not convinced.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Three Great Temptations When Occupying a Congressional Office

Many who run for congress and get elected do so with good intentions.  They want to make a difference, help their community and constituents, and have a positive impact in the health and welfare of this nation.

There are, however, great dangers along the way toward becoming a good, honest and conscientious congressional representative.  What might they be?

First there is the temptation to exaggerate one’s position, become puffed up, and take advantage of the office.  A congressional or senate seat is no small thing.  It comes with title, privileges, and connections, and promises to give access to much more.  It’s enough to turn anyone’s head.

A newly elected representative may enter the office with a healthy amount of humility and goodwill, but it can quickly fade into the background when the real nature of the political office-quirks, with it accompanying privileges and power, begin to settle in.  Once in office, it is easy to forget that a true representative is a servant of the government and its people, not a privileged lord and master.

We’ve all seen them, petty officials, from a small security officer to a business owner/CEO, who act as if their official position sets them apart and puts them above it all.  They become little dictators, lording-it-over, demeaning and demanding of those below them, thinking themselves quite the figure, expecting others to cow-tow to their whims and wishes.  How many congresspersons and senators have succumbed to this temptation without realizing it?

Congressional and Senate Representatives are in a key position of power and influence within a nation that is among the strongest and wealthiest of world nations.  It is a valid question to ask what and whose interests are they really and truly serving—the people’s or an oligarchical elite, the special interest of money and power, a chosen few, whom?

The second temptation is age old, the temptation to abuse one’s power.  Among people, power moves in either of two directions: (1) outward toward the many, or (2) inward toward the one and/or the few.  Real servant-leaders seek to share power and move power outwardly, in the direction of the people around them, empowering the many.  On the other hand, egotistic, self-important leaders tend to amass greater and greater power for themselves and their comrades, the chosen few.

Servant-leaders listen to, receive from, and consider the plight and place of the people at large (they see individual trees as well as the whole forest).  Then they seek to motivate, encourage, and direct their fellow representatives to adopt policies that serve the interest of community and nation, individual and the people at large, the collective whole—not always easy, but always the better way to go.

A third temptation is to attempt to personally profit from one’s official position.  With congressional or senate office come many perks and privileges, as well as powerful connections.  Who can resist?  How does one not personally gain from such a status and position of influence?

Here’s just one example: I am greatly concerned by former State Governors who become key spokespersons for powerful oil companies in defense of fracking, parroting shallow arguments that are dismissive of real consequences in real peoples’ lives.  Especially since many of the State fracking deals and privileges given to the very same oil companies came at the hands of the very same person who was governor at the time.  Such behavior gives more than just a mere appearance of collusion.

Abuse of power, exaggeration of status, position, and privileges, self-interest, seeking personal gain and profit during one’s tenure in office or after one leaves office; these and more, are the many temptations that people who occupy powerful and influential offices face.  Who keeps them real, holds them accountable, or checkmates them when they cross the line?

It’s interesting how we are always worried about the moral decadence of our nation when it comes to sex.  But when it comes to the sins of greed and wealth accumulation at the expense of the poor and needy, or the lust for power and its abuses, we hear very little, say even less, and have so little concern for where this nation is heading respecting wealth distribution (or the lack thereof).  What an irony it is, when one considers the total teachings of Jesus.