A divided America

The recent and ongoing debate regarding the debt ceiling and how to handle the persistent serious economic problems facing Americans has clearly proven that there is a divided America. The language of the debates refers to this divide and the various issues that comprise it. These terms label various people that are divided from others in America by these issues: the millionaires , the middle class, the poor, the employed, the unemployed, the retired, immigrants, illegal immigrants, the “blacks”, Hispanics, whites, the college educated, non-college graduates, public schooled, home schooled, the insured, the uninsured, home owners, renters, those whose homes have been repossessed, the homeless, heterosexual, homosexual, married, civil unions, unmarried, children, youth, seniors, Christians, non-Christians, Jews, Muslims, liberals, conservatives, Republicans, Democrats, Independents, the Tea Party, Congress, the judiciary, the President, particular state residents, voters, non-voters, local, those who are “free”, those who are “oppressed”, union members, non-union workers, public/governmental, personal/private, lawful, unlawful, constitutional, unconstitutional, and other such terms that specifically denote personal differences between Americans and how they relate to each other.

A battle-worn america, a divided america:

A lot of battles, and even a war and lot of laws have been passed in our efforts to remove some of these issues that divide us, but the differences and their influences still divide us. The civil war did not remove the division in American society that was created by those who who were “free” and those who were “slaves”. It only removed the label of “slave” from some individuals and states. And it took additional efforts of violent and legal action to enable former “slaves” and their descendants to become voters. And we are still trying to learn how to relate to these individuals who are different. And it seems to be apparent that borrowed money cannot enable unemployed people to finance home mortgages or even the purchase of new cars. And it may not even encourage the rich to employ more workers for their products or to avoid the use of foreign “slave” labor to make their products.

“No one left behind” is a nice slogan, but history has proven over and over again that no government or social system has been able to bring all of the individuals under its control to the same standards of living as everyone else in their system. There are always some “poor”, some uneducated, some oppressed, some untreated sick and handicapped individuals, some unemployed, and other categories of individuals who are in one way or another “left behind” or are not able to participate in all of the opportunities that their national society provides. It is really foolish for Americans and our elected representatives to believe that we can eliminate many of these persistent personal differences and issues that divide us by “throwing money” at them or even passing laws against them. They will not go away by such efforts, and such efforts may only strengthen the divisions.

An implemented “debt deal” will not remove the issues that divide us. More debates and legislative actions by our politicians will not bring Americans together for their common good. I don’t believe that there is any “political” solution to this problem. I think that there must be a major reform within American people regarding how they regard each other and what they legitimately can do and should do to help each other in their civic and personal lives. Such a reform is bigger than just deciding the relative merits of “big” government or “small” government and spending cuts or a “fair” tax. And such reform is greatly complicated by our political processes that reinforce procedures and decisions that reward the “majority” even though they may be only 51% of the deciders. A ratio of 51% to 49% does not describe a united America or a united anything. We need a much broader reform within America if we are going to remove many of the issues that persistently divide us from each other!

What do you think Americans in their personal and civic responsibilities need to do to become more united and less divided? What needs to happen outside of the political arena and within it that will implement such personal actions by Americans? Why do you think there is a divided America? Let’s talk about this.

Changing priorities

I am Changing priorities in my life

I am changing priorities in my life To give more time and attention to the care of my wife, so I will not be adding new posts to this blog for awhile. Please continue to read my established posts and comments and join in the discussions. I will try to check your comments from time to time, but I don’t want to have to deal with spam. I hope that you understand. I appreciate your interest in my material.

Hanging out

It is probably good for adults and youth to have a place where they can go and just hang out with some friends. Hanging out should take place somewhere that is convenient and comfortable for everyone in their group. It may be public, like a restaurant or bar, private, like a VFW post or special club, or semi public, like a church or synagogue or mosque. It may be the home of one of the group to which everyone seems to gravitate.

For this type of gathering there is probably no one “in charge”, although there is probably a “host”, if the group meets in someone’s home. There is probably no “official” schedule for meetings of the group, but everyone in the group understands when individuals are usually getting together. Basically the activity of this type of group gathering is very unstructured and informal, except for those activities that promote the common friendship and personal support that is the reason for coming together.

There are probably no “official” rules for such gatherings of friends as they hang out with each other, but some basic rules are probably clearly understood by everyone in the group. One of these is a rule of privacy that what happens and is shared in the group stays in the group. Individuals trust each other not to “gossip” about what they are sharing with each other.

Hanging out …Illegally?

For the benefit of civic order neither the group or any of its members should be regularly engaged in “illegal” activities. This factor marks the difference between a group that can have positive benefits for its participants and a group that is only a gang of individuals that is out to impose its selfish and brutal will on others.

That is why another one of the basic rules for the positive gathering of friends who just get together to hang out with each other is a rule against compulsion, which means that no one should be forced to participate in any activity or discussion that is contrary to their free choice. Yet, this rule against compulsion has a flip side to it that states that everyone should respect the personal rights and freedom of each friend in the group. This means that individuals have a right to be “different” and to hold different opinions about various matters without such differences becoming personal points of verbal abuse or criticism. Different opinions can thus be discussed without the differences becoming “personal”.

Such groups of friends with which individuals choose to hang out are probably never going to very large, maybe at the most 25-30 individuals. It is difficult to maintain an ongoing consistent friendly relationship with too many individuals at the same time. Such relationships just require a lot of time and energy, which can’t be spread too far. So it is recognized and accepted that within such gatherings of friends it is OK for individuals to have some specially selected individuals who are their personal clique. And the existence of such cliques and the activities and sharing that takes place within them is not seen to hamper or to threaten the bonds of friendship that extend throughout the larger group as they hang out together. It is OK for the same individuals to sit together at the same table at each meeting.

I could suggest some other “rules” and guiding principles for the operation of such gatherings of friends as they hang out together, but I invite you to make any additions to those above that you care to make. What do you think are the positive benefits that come from a gathering of individuals who just like to hang out together? What makes such hanging out together good? What can hamper or damage such groups? Let’s talk about this.

Brand new day

I believe that today is a brand new day. I don’t think that there has ever been another day just like it in the history of the world. Many of the details of life throughout the world and even in your own personal situation are different today than they have ever been before. A simple example is the fact that you are now another day older than you have ever been before.

Other examples of differences can be cited in the fact that throughout the world thousands of individuals have died in the last twenty-four hours and thousands of babies have been born, so thousands of families have been changed in our world. And one of these families might be yours. Thousands of changes are taking place moment by moment in the lives of people in their families, neighborhoods, villages, towns, cities, and nations of the world as each day comes and goes. The weather is never exactly the same in any particular area from day to day, and even the time of the sunrise and sunset varies from day to day throughout the seasons, so no two days can ever been exactly the same in regard to all of these details of this basic factor of weather.

Each day is a brand new day

Change in the circumstances of our daily lives is the only constant that we can really see. Nothing remains the same from day to day, so each day is a brand new day. And we should be excited about that. The problems and poor decisions that we made yesterday are each gone, and we have new opportunities to address the changing circumstances of our lives in the brand new day in which we are living.

What are you doing today, in the moments that you have, to make the best use of this brand new day in which you are living? What decisions and actions are you taking that may provide some really good benefits for you and others with whom you are directly involved in the course of this brand new day? Let’s talk about this.

Good manners

Good manners are one of the primary supporting qualities for civilized behavior between people. Good manners provide attitudes and behavior that demonstrate personal respect for others, even those who are “different”. Good manners demonstrate a person’s respect for law and order between people and within groups of people, including neighborhoods, communities, and nations.

Good manners can seldom be consistently required by the force of laws. Parents or police departments cannot always require by the force of punishment that their children or the citizens of their communities treat each other with good manners. They can’t require others to say “please” and “thank you” when making personal exchanges of resources, doing business, or just trying to get along with each other. And they certainly can’t require people to say “I’m sorry” when they have been rude, disrespectful, or unkind to some one else.

Good manners are taught to children and reinforced with adults by lessons for good manners that are conducted by living day by day in families where good manners are consistently practiced. Individuals are not going to be taught such lessons in schools or in on-the-job-training workshops.

And lessons for good manners may not even be personally learned and put into practice if they come from the teachings of various religions and groups of their practitioners. Centuries of history have demonstrated how difficult it is for Christians and Jews to consistently live in close proximity to each other without them experiencing some incidents of prejudice or disrespectful behavior. And the examples of this difficulty become more evident when the groups represent Christians and Muslims or even Protestants and Catholics. It appears that many people, including many Christians and Jews, have not really learned the lesson that Jesus was trying to teach the crowd of people who followed him around that they should “do to others what you would have them do to you” (Matthew 7:12). And his summary of God’s laws, with the second summary commandment being to “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31) has not been easy to keep for any of his followers.

Failure to practice Good Manners

Two recent incidents in distant communities and cultures demonstrate the consequences of people’s failure to practice good manners in human civilized behavior in our world. The burning of a copy of the Quran by pastor Wayne Sapp, an associate of pastor Terry Jones, at the Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, FL on March 20, 2011, was used by a group of Muslim in Mazar-e Sharif Afghanistan to stage a riot and to attack a group of innocent residents killing many, including some humanitarian workers from the U.N. Violent riots like these in Afghanistan and disrespectful protests like that of these pastors in Florida are common reminders of the consequences that we all face as we try to live with other people who are “different” from us without practicing good manners.

Good manners have a lot to do with respect for what people consider to be “holy” in their lives. They teach respect for “doors”, personal property, and borders. They serve as guides for good communication, even between people who may not agree with each other regarding the matter being considered or discussed.

Why is it so hard for individuals to learn and to consistently practice good manners with others? What needs to be done to more effectively teach the lessons regarding personal respect for others and law and order in our civil lives together that are represented by good manners? Let’s talk about this.

An invitation

This is an invitation to the viewers of this blog and my website to join in the discussion of the various issues and topics that I address in my posts. I know that some of you have listed my site and this blog among your “favorites” and set “bookmarks” to frequently open it, and I appreciate such sustained interest. I am going to continue to try to keep my posts and statements interesting and my site and its features easy to view and to use.

An invitation to express your opinions

In order to handle a large amount of spam that gets submitted to this blog, I am now making it necessary for anyone who wants to leave a comment on this blog to register with my blog and to follow the established procedures for leaving legitimate comments. These include the use of a personal password to confirm your membership as being registered and the passing of a simple test to demonstrate that you are a human being and not a spamming machine.

Although I like compliments about my blog and its posts, I’m really more interested in getting people to talk with me and others about the various issues that I address in my posts. Therefore I will be checking all comments to evaluate how they add to the discussion of these issues before they are accepted for publication. If anyone has other comments of a more personal nature or general nature regarding this blog and its material, they can send those to me in email messages from the tab for my “Contact Form”.

An invitation to contribute to the discussion

There are a lot of severe challenges and intense struggles facing many people around the world today. And in many cases the proclaimed “experts” don’t seem to be able to effectively handle them. The theme for this blog is “What is good?”, and that is what I want to discuss with you. Let’s talk about this. I look forward to your participation in the discussion of these matters. If you are really interested in these matters, please accept my invitation to become a registered commentator to my blog.

Disaster in Japan

People everywhere are very sympathetic to the millions of people who have been personally affected by the tremendous earth quake and tsunami that caused so much widespread death, destruction and disaster in Japan. Numerous videos continue to show the world the unbelievable power of the shaking earth and the high surge of the tsunami wave that swept villages away and piled houses, buildings, cars, trucks, boats, and debris in the streets and fields and harbors of many Japanese cities and towns. Reports continue to be made regarding aftershocks and the ongoing dangers of nuclear contamination from the three nuclear power plants that were damaged by the tsunami wave that slammed into them. Crews are seeking to find missing relatives or at least the bodies of the thousands of people who are believed to have been killed by this disaster. And just getting basic supplies of food and water and shelter to thousands of people who have lost everything is a huge task.

It is understood that the Japanese people will recover from this disaster, but it will probably take years. In the meantime many of their basic services, including that of their currency, have been seriously hampered. Money and basic resources and relief workers are being brought into the cities, but the extent of the disaster is unbelievable. The whole earth has been affected!

Did engineering play a part in the disaster in Japan?

Apparently Japanese engineers and experts in dealing with earthquakes had done an excellent job of designing the buildings for their cities and even the nuclear reactors to withstand severe earthquakes, but this one along with the tsunami wave overpowered many of their safe guards.

So there is a lot of talk taking place now among the “experts” and the national and international leaders of highly developed countries, like Japan, that face the potential of similar natural disasters. The questions that they are all discussing have to do with how they can provide for the safety of their citizens, as well as how they can help,  in the face of such powerful natural forces.

I would hope that this disaster in Japan has caused many people around the world to reconsider what they really see as being “stable” and of lasting value in their lives. So many of us in the well developed countries of the world are surrounded by attractive homes and offices. In our daily lives we are made very comfortable by many things. We can get around in nice comfortable cars and easily communicate with our friends and relatives with various hand-held devices, so it is natural to begin to take such resources for granted as a part of one’s rights to daily life.

Lessons learned from the disaster in Japan

But such daily comforts and resources are not guaranteed as “stable” always present commodities for one’s daily life. In this blog I’m trying to get people to talk with me and others about “What is good?” in their lives.  See these posts for related issues of concern: balancing budgets or lessons from the oil spill or this statement on my website at economic security . What good can come from this disaster in Japan? What is there in your life that is really stable and dependable? What has ultimate value in your life? What is there in your life that can’t be piled up in a mound of broken “stuff” or swept away by a huge wave or destroyed in a flood or a fire? Has the disaster in Japan helped you reconsider anything in your personal life? Let’s talk about this.