Political hope

In eleven months our country is going to engage in another national election to select our president and congressional managers. Right now the republican party is engaged in a series of primary elections to determine who will be its nomination for the office of president. And the president and the democratic party are engaged in a lot of maneuvers and discussions in efforts to deal with the problems that we are facing in our country. And we citizens are becoming more and more frustrated and dissatisfied by the ways Congress seeks to do our business and the president’s struggles to increase and to maintain his position as our “popular” leader. Is it possible to have Political Hope anymore?

How much hope do you have in our political processes that they can really correct our problems? I think that if our government was really viewed as a business by us citizens, we would have fired the CEO, the treasurer, and many department managers a long time ago for all the wasteful spending, lost of revenue, unused workers, increased debt, seriously questioned decisions that they made, and loss of confidence among our friends and even our “stock holders” that we have the ability to conduct our “business” in an intelligent and responsible way.

I know that some critics of the government have indicated verbally that this is what we should do. And some critics have formed a “Tea Party” to begin to move in the direction of making some major changes in how we do our “business” in Washington. But I don’t think that this organization or the discussions that seem to address some desirable changes that need to be made in this matter are really serious enough or basic enough in their proposed effects to make much of a difference in how we do our “business” in Washington.

Political Hope: Economy

Everyone seems to agree that our “economic” problem is the number “one” issue in our country, but there is no common consensus regarding how to fix it. A lot of workers are still not being used while the Republican candidates for the office of president argue about whether or not one of them was able to save jobs or did he lose jobs in his former position as a CEO in a business. And there is a lot of talk about the necessity to bring “exported” jobs back to America, but little real practical consensus on how to do that while many of our cities lay off teachers and firemen and police officers because they don’t have enough funds in their accounts to pay them.

I could go on describing the various specific problems that frustrate us in how we do our “business” together in Washington, but these are all pretty well known and currently being widely discussed. What political hope do you have that our political procedures will be able to “save” our joint “business” of government from a practical collapse? What specific steps do we as the “stock holders” in this business need to take this year in order to make some real differences in this matter? What can we do when so many of the “executives” and “managers” in our “business” of government seem to be more concerned about saving their jobs and benefits than they are in saving the “business”? Let’s talk about political hope!

Toleration

In any civilized society where they are clear significant differences between individuals in regard to their ethnic nature, race, religious affiliations, political philosophy, economic level, and education it is good to have a system of laws in place that encourages individuals to recognize and to tolerate the value of such differences. So a reasonable degree of toleration of individual differences allows different individuals to live together and to cooperate with each other for their common benefit with mutual respect and peace in their joint endeavors.

Where to draw the line in toleration?

Of course, the principle of toleration for individual differences does not mean that law abiding citizens must put up with the behavior of individuals who choose to disobey the established laws of the community or nation. And the principle of toleration does not mean that mature adult parents of young children have to tolerate the immature selfish behavior that is sometimes demonstrated by their children. Patience is a virtue in raising children and in regarding to the practice of accepting some different behavior and attitudes, but it is nonsense to tolerate individual differences in behaviors and attitudes that are ultimately threats to the common good of individuals in any society. Such a degree of toleration is foolishness. There comes a time in any society when its citizens must “grow up” and refuse to tolerate anything that may ultimately be dangerous to the well being of everyone or is obviously foolishness.

I think that we have reached a level of legal toleration for some individual differences in our society that is really dangerous and rather foolish

For example, I think that our toleration of the homosexual life style of personal relationships between consenting adults is a severe threat to the wisdom of traditional laws for marriage, the stability of families, and the education of children in our society.

I think that it is foolish to expect that our toleration for the legal right of a woman or young lady to have an abortion whenever she chooses to do so will not ultimately threaten our legal standards for the protection of all human life. The discussion of this matter has already started.

The issues of homosexuality and abortion rights are only two examples where this matter of civic levels of toleration for individual differences is significantly important for our common welfare. There are others, which include these: the availability and cost of health care for those who are “poor” or unemployed or not citizens, immigration and the status and procedures for citizenship in this country, the curriculum for the education of children in our public schools, home ownership and the rules for mortgages by banks and other lending businesses, fair tax codes for everyone regardless of their personal financial resources, how our elected officials are to conduct themselves in their efforts to do the “business” of our citizens, what are appropriate sources for jobs in this country, and the reliability of “politically correct” statements in contrast to those that are more objective in their factual completeness and perspective; and there are other such matters where the principle of toleration for individual differences has some serious effects upon the ultimate decisions and behaviors that are approved and accepted in our society.

Where should mature citizens in a society such as ours, which includes individuals who are very different from each other, draw a line between between what they will tolerate and what they won’t tolerate any longer? What personal behavior and attitudes should no longer be tolerated in public and in our joint efforts to live and work together? Let’s talk about this.

Merry Christmas ?

I probably shouldn’t even be expressing this wish for anyone at this season of the year, because it is not “politically correct”. But “happy holidays” or merry christmas doesn’t make much sense to me, because there isn’t much of a case for celebrating any holiday at this time of the year if it doesn’t have anything to do with Jesus Christ. And of course Jesus was not born in December, and the anniversary of his birth was not celebrated or otherwise observed by Christians in the early church. And most of the traditions and stories that are now associated with this seasonal celebration are secular in their sources. (See my statement regarding Christmas and its significance on my website for a complete review of these traditions.) And the entire celebration has been turned into a cause for materialist consumption and spending.

Buy buy buy: Merry Christmas

I don’t need any more “stuff” in my house to have a “merry” time at this time of the year. It would really be nice if my wife could regain her strength and ability to walk after suffering a broken hip earlier this year, but there is nothing that I can buy that will enable her to do that. Our families are somewhat “broken” and scattered, so some of the resources of “merry” family gatherings are not easily arranged or available to us. Some of you may be in similar circumstances at this season of the year. And you may be faced with the added pressures to try to celebrate this holiday by buying, buying, and buying a lot more “stuff” that ultimately won’t last very long or satisfy the basic human needs for joy and peace.

The best message of good will that I can offer to you at this time of year is to find your joy and peace in sharing the love of God in Jesus with your relatives and friends. And it won’t be done by sharing gifts of “stuff”, but by sharing gifts of loving support and encouragement and practical resources to meet the challenges of daily life on this “battlefield” of world events.

My Merry Christmas message

May God bless you with his joy and peace at this time of the year as you receive his gift of grace in Jesus Christ and share with others. This may not be a “popular” message of good will for this holiday season, but it is my message. I would be glad to welcome your comments regarding this matter, so let’s talk about the appropriateness of this message Merry Christmas and any of its alternatives.

Pornography

Pornography is not a display of people making love, because love is not made through the physical stimulation of one’s genitals. Love is a shared experience between people whose spirits are bound together by ongoing commitments for caring, support, encouragement, kindness, selfless sacrifices and sharing of resources that extent beyond momentary moods of pleasure and needs.

The fascination with pornography that is evident in our society is great evidence of the seductive power of this form of communication. So thousands of adult men and women and youth and even children as they pass into the stage of their lives when they become aware of their sexuality are deceived into thinking that love is “made” by physical sexual relations.

And this deception has caused many individuals to ruin their lives with the ongoing pursuit of sexual pleasures, broken and unsatisfying relationships, and even some physical diseases and suffering. What a tragedy! And our society is even promoting this deception in the content of many courses in sex education that are offered in various schools and classes for the teaching of humanistic doctrines. And some of these courses and classes are being given to very young children.

Yet we seem to be very concerned about the sexual abuse of children and the rape of young girls and women, and cases of such behavior by adults are severely pursued and criminally prosecuted while our society continues to fill our channels of communication with “soft porn”, easy access to “hard porn” on the Internet, and deceptive courses in sexuality in our schools. These practices make no sense, and the sexual crimes that are being committed against children and men and women will only become more numerous and severe because of the widespread availability of pornography in our society.

Censoring Pornography?

Censorship of publications is not a “popular” solution to this problem, because of the importance of a right to “free” speech in our society. So only a few “filters” or rules are put into place to protect individuals from displays of pictures or the expressions of terms that are sexually too specific for release to the general public. But even some of these “rules” are not consistently enforced everywhere.

Expressions of sincere committed love can be shared in acts of physical sexual intercourse between a married man and his wife, but the value of such sharing may be more clearly displayed by their sharing of tender hugs and gentle caresses when the physical activity of sexual intercourse is no longer possible for them.

What we should do about pornography

I think that we need a very specific effort to counteract this deceptive display of pornography in our society by more courses and training in the morality of human sexuality and the enforcement of reasonable laws against the spread of this “poison” among our people, adults and youth and children. What do you think? What should be done about this problem in our society? Let’s talk about this.

Being held accountable

Everyone everywhere is being held accountable to some standards of behavior by someone else.

It is an absolute necessity for being in any family or other social group, learning in any system of education or training, being effective in any enterprise, and being safe in any community and nation. Some of the necessary standards are imposed by others through laws or specific rules for conduct, test scores in academic procedures, achievements in job or athletic or artistic performances, or the preservation of peace and safety in community and national living situations.

Yet some people, maybe too many of us, avoid being held accountable to others for how we behave or we only want to have to live and behave in accord with our self-imposed standards. I think that being selfish is a natural human tendency, and most human beings seek to avoid being controlled by others as much as possible. So there are some personal tendencies in all of us to do what “feels good at the moment”, to eat what “tastes good”, to think what “justifies myself”, and to find as many good ways as possible to avoid being criticized or judged by others. But such freedom from standards of accountability is a dangerous way to live, because there are some very powerful forces of desires and actions that are constantly seeking to direct us into ways of living that are not very good but they are even ultimately destructive.

While many of the standards for accountable personal and social and professional behavior and achievement are well known and very specific, such as obeying traffic and civil laws, others may not always be as easily known or their importance personally acknowledged. For example Joe Paterno, who was just fired from his position as head coach of the Penn State football team after 61 years of faithful and notable service, learned the hard way that there are some very important standards for being accountable in one’s job that are “higher” than just abiding by the law. As he himself admitted, “I should have done more” to stop the ongoing practice of child sexual abuses that Jerry Sandusky, one of his assistant coaches, has been charged with doing. And most of us recognize that the standards for “safe” driving are more important than the posted speed limits when one is driving on snow packed or icy highways. And some of us may recognize that being “politically correct” may not be a high enough standard for our statements and behavior than it is to be honest and compassionate.

While some of the standards by which we are being held accountable are imposed by our parents, teachers, bosses or coaches, police officers, and legislative representatives, some of these standards can only be self-imposed or implemented with us by those friends or guides that we select to help us to be accountable to high and good standards for our behavior. Such friends help many individuals to overcome personal addictions to such substances as narcotics and alcohol by their daily examinations and warnings. And some individuals get a lot of daily guidance and help in this matter of being held accountable from God and his Spirit and the Bible as they consider the wisdom of these resources in their lives.

Being held accountable is a good benefit…

…as an individual seeks to learn how to live in such a world as ours where there are so many different options for one’s behavior and thoughts. Who helps you to be accountable in your daily life? What standards work best for you as you are being held accountable in your daily choices? What is the importance of being held accountable for you? Let’s talk about this.

Discernment

Before we get to discernment itself, the media recently helped us to note the lives of two different individuals who made a difference in what many of us do and think each day. These were the lives of Steven Jobs and Andy Rooney who both recently died. Steve Jobs was the co-founder and creative entrepreneur of Apple Inc and the genius that produced the iPad. Andy Rooney was a writer in several different formats and a very interesting and popular commentator on 60 Minutes for many years. Both of them reportedly made significant contributions to the procedures and content for some of the communication that we exchange with each other from day to day. There shouldn’t be any doubt in anyone’s mind that easy to use hand-held tools for communication and thoughtful commentary are important factors in all of the messages that are being exchanged between individuals today.

Discernment under bombardment

Everyday our national media for news and other platforms for various personal and social messages continue to bombard us with thousands of messages, reports, opinions, advertizements, appeals, and warnings about various things, issues, events, and projections that can have serious effects on us in our daily lives. I don’t know about you, but I often find it very difficult to discern from these messages what is a reasonable conclusion that I might draw regarding the possible meaning of such messages and what I should do in response to them in my life. And this process of discernment is further complicated by the questions as to the accuracy of the facts behind some of these messages and their basic truthfulness.

Right now our media and much of our attention is being drawn to the next national election for our President and members of Congress. So we are bombarded with national debates between Republican candidates for President and intense state and local discussions regarding various legislative issues and economic problems and over many of these messages and discussions, broadcasts and public demonstrations are the “filters” regarding what is the “truth” in these messages, what are the facts, who has the “right” solution to many of our common problems, and what can we ordinary citizens do about these matters of concern and interest. And some political careers and some personal careers and reputations are being seriously affected by these messages, and we are each being challenged to be very thoughtful in our discernment of these matters and what we decide to do about them.

Political Discernment

In our current political and social situations what are you doing to make reasonable sense of all of these messages with which we are bombarded everyday? What “filters” of discernment do you find to be most effective and helpful in your efforts to understand and to respond to these various messages? We are facing a year of intense debates and ongoing discussions regarding these messages and concerns. Let’s talk about this matter and try to develop some practical insights into our personal and collective responses to these messages. What is your take on discernment? Please submit your comments to this post.

Bullying

The bullying behavior of some kids in some schools in some communities of our country has become a major issue of concern for many school and community leaders. Many school officials, teachers, parents, and other groups of people are discussing possible ways of dealing with this problem, particularly what should be done to the individual kids who persist in acting in violent and non-respective ways against other kids in their schools or even outside of their school environments.

Some bullies have been suspended from their schools. In other communities or schools they may be required to go to an “anger management” class or to get some special counseling from a school counselor or social worker. If the behavior is particularly violent and physical or a weapon has been used, the bully may have been charged with some criminal activity.

Violence as a solution to Bullying?

Such bullying behavior is not new. There was a bully present in my eighty grade class over 70 years ago. He often “acted out” whenever the teacher left the room, and he was sometimes pretty aggressive in his behavior with others on the playground. But he didn’t bother me after I once beat him in a wrestling match during one of our recess sessions. I lost track of him after we went on to different high schools, so I don’t know if he ever got some helpful guidance with his aggressive tendencies.

But I don’t believe that more violence, even if it subdues the bully, is the solution to this problem. And suspensions from school or even jail sentences will probably not cure the basic bullying tendencies once they have been accepted and put into practice by the growing kid.

I believe that children learn how to relate to other persons primarily in their homes. And these patterns of behavior and relationships are learned and practiced at very early ages as each child adjusts to the roles of his or her parents and siblings in the family group. And then such patterns of behavior and relationships are further practiced and refined as the social circles of the child expand and change as he or she continues to grow. There is no other available arena or “classroom” outside of the family for the early learning of how to relate to others. All other groups can only be arenas for practical reinforcement of such lessons or “therapy” to deal with their failures.

Surprised about bullying?

School officials and community leaders and even parents shouldn’t be surprised to see this growing problem of bullying among children when so much has been done to destroy or to hamper the civil and moral authority of parents over their children in their homes or to remove such authority from them completely, as for example in regard to sex education and the rights of pregnant children to have an abortion without the need for parental consent.

What needs to be happening in the homes of our nation to stop this trend of bullying behavior by so many of our children and youth? What good standards for social behavior and relationships need to be reintroduced and reinforced in our homes in order to begin to deal with the basic causes of this problem in our schools and communities? What should school and community officials be doing to help parents to correct the bullying behavior and disrespectful attitudes of some of their children? Let’s talk about this.