Sunday, December 18, 2011

go to the source

We live in a technologically advanced, but informationally stunted world. We seemingly have all the information we need at our fingertips, but often lack the will, or curiosity, to use it to our advantage. We all too frequently fall back on letting someone else tell us what to do and what is true when we should be investigating for ourselves and making better decisions.

Politics is just one of those areas, but it gets a great amount of attention every four years at least, as is the case now. We are blessed in this country to be free to elect our leaders. In much of the world this is not the case and we should not take lightly the responsibility to make wise decisions as to who to support. The GOP debates may seem tedious and simply forums for talking point reiteration, but they can serve to help us identify what is really important to us, even for those who aren't planning to vote GOP.

It is more than just "fact-checking" that we need to do. We also need to check quotes and context. People tend to view speakers as "scholarly" or "expert" when they cite history and quote historical documents. But how often do these same people check the sources of the citations and quotes to see if they are accurate? Not very often in my opinion. And that can lead people to make very unsound decisions.

Case in point: during the latest debate Newt Gingrich was ranting about the judiciary and how it was damaging America with bad rulings...that it was out of control and needed to be reined in. He made a couple of really outlandish suggestions - getting rid of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals (conservatives "favorite" court) and summoning justices before Congress to "explain" their "controversial" rulings. That was bad enough, but his rational was worse...and that (again) got overlooked in the analysis.

Gingrich is certainly no friend of the courts, but he covers his blatant animosity with a 'scholarly" sheen, by using quotes and making historical references to his advantage. Unfortunately, he often misquotes and takes things out of context. As a preacher I once heard said " a text out of context becomes a pretext". This describes Newt very well. I won't belabor the point or overwhelm you with examples, but let me just cite a couple examples.

He stated that the founders intended for the judiciary to be the weakest branch of government. He was referencing the discussion of the judiciary in the Federalist Papers, the collection of letters written by Hamilton, Madison, and John Jay, to persuade New York state to ratify the Constitution. They talked about the relative weakness of the judicial branch, but in a matter advocating protecting it's independence from the other two branches (executive and legislative), not subordinating it to them.

To quote Federalist #78 : the judiciary is beyond comparison the weakest of the three departments of power can never attack with success either of the other two..all possible care is requisite to enable it to defend itself against their attacks". They were not saying that the judiciary should be the weakest. They were saying that it was in the most vulnerable position and needed protection (like with lifetime appointments and a prohibition on cutting a justice's salary during their time of service).

Newt also said that the courts were not the final arbiter of the law. But, to quote the same Federalist paper "The interpretation of the laws is the proper and peculiar province of the courts" and "the courts of justice..whose duty it must be to declare all acts contrary to the manifest tenor of the constitution void. Without this, the reservations of particular rights or privileges would amount to nothing".

For a supposed "scholar" of the Constitution to be this wrong is not accidental, it is purposeful. It is an attack upon the part of government designed to be the protector of our rights and should not be viewed as merely "crackpot". As a former history/poli sci major myself this makes my blood boil!

I would urge anyone to avail themselves of three resources which can be invaluable in combating, personally and collectively, the misinformation that is spewed out regularly by those who seek to influence our political decisions. Three links:

1. The Federalist Papers, if you don't have a hard copy (as I do)

2. The Constitution (you really should have a hard copy...and read it often)

3. you can look up the history, sponsors, and full text of any congressional find out what it "really" says.

With these three you can combat much of the disinformation being thrown out there during this political season. Don't let anyone (not even me) make your decisions for you. As the saying goes "God gave you a brain, now use it"

Sunday, December 11, 2011

ask the right questions

Once again we have a bit of humor in the presidential race , thanks to Rick Perry. At a meeting with an Iowa newspaper's editorial board he was criticizing President Obama's Supreme Court appointees, yet couldn't remember correctly the name of one (Sotomayor) and misstated the number of Justices on the Court. Surely a candidate for president should know these things. The filling of a Supreme Court vacancy is a vital presidential task and one that may arise during this next presidential term, considering Justice Ginzberg's health. While it is important that a candidate be accurate in these details , however, this is not what got my attention in his comments.

As we laugh at these gaffs we often miss the bigger issue. It is the wrongful thinking that is behind the statements these candidates make. Because Rick Perry is not alone in his sentiments, just the most visible at times. He used two adjectives to describe the Justices, used both negatively, when only one is true and that one should be viewed as a positive not negative.

He said that the Justices were "unelected" and "unaccountable". The first is true but for reasons I will explain shortly, this I believe is a positive, not negative characteristic of both the Supreme Court and the rest of the federal court system. The second assertion is definitely false, but you have to think harder than a "fifth grader" to understand the reasons why.

First there is the appointment and confirmation process, where the President and the Senate, representing the other two branches of our government (both elected by the people) , choose the members of the Court. Then there is the ability of a latter Court to overturn earlier decisions after review (see Plessy v Ferguson (1896) overturned by the Brown decision (1954) as the most notable example).

There is also the ability for Congress to pass Constitutional amendments to correct deficiencies in the law and render moot a Court's decision. Prime example of this was the 13th Amendment (1865) , outlawing slavery , in response to the Dred Scott decision . There was also the 16th Amendment (1913) ,passed to overcome Court objections to a federal income tax.

And there is the matter of impeachment. Just as for the President, any member of the federal judiciary can be impeached by the House of Representatives and face trial in the Senate, with conviction resulting in removal from office. Throughout our history 19 federal court justices have been impeached (including one Supreme Court justice) and several have been removed from office after trial in the Senate. So you see, the justices and their decisions are accountable.

The other contention, that they are unelected, is true. But I would contend that this is a positive characteristic, not negative. I have always felt that the election of judges, the common practice for state courts, was not good. Members of the legislative and executive branches should be responsive to the people. The members of the judicial branch, the judges, should be responsive to the law, protecting the people's rights. All rights, not just the majority.

When cases reach the federal courts the stakes are higher. The rulings will often affect many people from multiple states (the health care reform cases are one example) and the questions reach to the core of fundamental rights and freedoms. Also, the issues may invoke alleged overreach by the executive or legislative branches of the federal government. The courts must have the independence to rule against either branch if the case warrants. A lifetime appointment guarantees this.

Our rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution involve the right to be unpopular. To voice unpopular views, have unpopular beliefs, to gather with unpopular people to advocate unpopular causes. Popular opinions do not need protection. Majority views do not need special protection. They are protected by their own popularity. But minority opinions, like minority populations, are vulnerable to the "tyranny of the majority", and need safeguarding by a court system where judges are free to make the "unpopular" decision to defend them.

Our history as a country is one of evolving protection for minority populations and views, expanding our understanding of what it means to be free, and challenging ourselves to open our minds to the truth that if anyone's freedom is curtailed we all suffer. We cannot go backward. We must stay vigilant. Rick Perry is not alone in his skewed views on the Court…his fellow GOP candidates all share basically the same views. We must hold them "accountable" for these and render them all "unelected"

Thursday, November 10, 2011

no laughing matter

We all had a good laugh this week at Rick Perry's expense when he had a brain fuzz on air during the GOP debate. When he stated that there were three agencies of the federal government that he would get rid of if he became President, and then could only name two, he had 52 seconds of oops.
I am sure that SNL folks were probably saying to themselves.."dang, he did his parody better than anything we could ever do". Many are writing his campaign epitaph as we speak. It was one of those memorable political gaffe moments we will be talking about for years.

Unfortunately, most people missed the shear audacity of what he was proposing due to the delivery..or lack thereof..of his points. The three departments that he was proposing doing away with were Education, Commerce, and....Energy (the one he couldn't quite remember).

The Department of Education has been a frequent target of conservatives, so it wasn't really a surprise to be mentioned. They feel it should be left up to the states. Some have even come out against the federal college loan program, so you can see how out of touch they are...with tuition going up and up and less and less people able to afford it.

The Department of Energy has also been mentioned recently, but seriously? In the aftermath of the BP spill, coal mine collapses, and the Fukushima nuclear plant meltdown in Japan...he wants to eliminate the agency responsible for regulating and inspecting - and holding companies accountable? How do you enforce the safety laws governing the safe production and use of energy without a Department of Energy?

And Commerce? Normally one of the lines of attack that conservatives use to target federal agencies is to contend that the Constitution doesn't specifically authorize the government to do such things. In this case they have no room to stand. Article I, section 8, Clause 3 enumerates congressional power to "regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes". Commerce, both interstate and overseas, is solidly a part of federal government responsibility and how can it be done without the Department of Commerce?

People tend to forget that a law passed by Congress has no effect in and of itself. It only takes effect when it is "executed"...put into effect and enforced by the Executive Branch. The president is aided in this task by his Cabinet and the agencies they oversee. For a nation of over 300 million that takes a lot of people and simplistic cutting does a grave disservice to the nation's business..and economy.

Laughing at gaffs and brain fuzzes is one thing..political theatre. But lets not forget the bad messages being mangled in the process. Being president, and running for it, is serious business, and no laughing matter.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

country club americanism

Country club americanism, what does that mean and why do I say I see it today? The view that America is some special "club" that only the right people can join, and where special privileges are conferred is not a new thing. Throughout our history we have struggled with acceptance of the "others" whether that be blacks, Irish/Italian/other suspect Europeans, Asians, Hispanics,or so-called "savages" i.e.native Americans. We have had troubles with accepting other faiths - the current debates over Islam reflect our earlier discord over Jews and Catholics. Remember, it was only as recent as 1960 (within my lifetime) when we finally accepted that a Catholic (JFK) could be trusted to be President...and even then some feared he would be too influenced by the Pope.

Yet it is disturbing to see and hear signs that some would welcome a return to more "exclusive" times. Sometimes it is subtle..reaction to the protests in Wisconsin as being "allowed, I guess" in a free society. Sometimes condescending ...the remarks of a sitting US Senator that "free speech is a fine idea, but we are at war" (Lindsey Graham,R-SC). And some are revisionist/unconstitutional threats - "Islam is entitled only to the religious liberty we extend to it out of courtesy....the purpose of the First Amendment ...was to exclude all rivalry among Christian sects" (Bryan Fischer, American Family Association).

It is bad enough to see the attack upon citizenship by way of the demand from some that it is not enough to be born in America...they demand that your parents prove they are citizens in order for you to be considered one (pedigree,anyone?)-contrary to the 14th Amendment. And bad also that folks would consider that freedoms in this country are only for citizens (see my earlier post on the use of the words "citizen" and "person" in the Constitution). But now to have rights reduced to "privileges" and "courtesies" for even citizens is outrageous and snobbery of the highest sort...and is why I call it "country-club americanism".

Don't get me wrong. We do have responsibilities as citizens. We have been given the great gift and privilege of being Americans and to enjoy the freedoms we have. But as Thomas Jefferson so eloquently points out, in the Declaration of Independence, our nation was founded upon the belief that we are "endowed by (our) creator with certain unalienable liberty, and the pursuit of happiness". We exercise responsible citizenship first and foremost by defending those freedoms for speaking out forcefully in their defense against anyone who would seek to restrict them from anyone.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

the value and right of protest

Some on the right have argued that the protesters in Wisconsin are working against democracy by opposing what the state legislature (and the governor) are trying to do. They say,"elections have consequences" and "the will of the people" must be respected. They are willfully ignorant of basic principles of our representative process and of our constitutional rights.

The first issue is with representatives. The founding fathers (who they often refer to -like gods) envisioned a democracy where the people would elect certain individuals to represent the whole population and make decisions about the nation's business. They did not intend to have "rubber stamps", but rather wise leaders who would do what was right for the whole country, not just what was popular. Popular does not always equal moral, ethical or wise. Segregation in the South was certainly popular (at least with the white population) but none would dare call it moral.

The majority rules, but minority rights are protected ,has always been a mantra for our system of government. The Bill of Rights was set up to guarantee that certain freedoms were never left up to a popular vote. Opinions can change, passions can run amok, and people suffer as a result. The right to free speech, free press, free assembly, freedom of and from religion (no establishment of religion means you don't have to believe anything) are protections aimed at unpopular opinions. Popular opinions don't need protection, the masses will ensure that.

Thus the protests in Wisconsin are like the protests in Cairo,Tunis, Yemen, Libya, etc...they are the voice of the people arguing against establishment actions. In the other countries the protests are because a democracy does not exist. In Wisconsin they are an expression of democracy in the context of a wider democracy. Please review carefully the last clause of the First Amendment ..."Congress shall make no law ..prohibiting...the right of the people to peaceably assemble and petition their government for a redress of grievances"...they have a grievance with the legislature and governor and they are petitioning for redress (relief/correction).

I know that many will have problems with the views of the protesters. That is fine, we all have the freedom to disagree and to do so publicly. But to say that protest is undemocratic is to demonstrate a clear ignorance of democracy itself. I have severe differences with the Tea Party on issues, but I fully support their right to speak those opinions, individually, and in groups- protests of their own (most widely seen during the healthcare debate townhall meetings).

And finally, why is taking advantage of a rule designed to protect minority rights a bad thing? The GOP certainly had no problem with the filibuster rule in the Senate for the past two years in their quest to defend their minority position. Why should the Wisconsin Democrats be any less valid in their use of the quorum rules to defend their position on collective bargaining for state employees? Democracy can be messy, but it is our way, and has been working well for over 200 years. I certainly would not trade it , not matter how "efficient" some other system might be.

Friday, January 28, 2011

missing the point

This week we had an illustration of missing the point, thanks to former Alaska governor Sarah Palin. President Obama said in his State of the Union address that this was our Sputnik moment, a time to invest in innovation, research, and education for the future of our country. In commenting on that, however, Palin stated that it was odd (a WTF moment she said), that he was calling on Americans to celebrate that moment, saying that even though the USSR won the space race that they incurred so much debt that it led to their collapse.

There are a few things wrong with those statements. For one thing, the Soviets did not "win" the space race. that's like saying a horse in the Kentucky Derby ahead at the quarter mile mark has "won" the race (at that point there's a mile more to run). The goal of the space race was the moon, and the US won that race by landing men on the moon in 1969. Second, the Soviet Union did not fall because of space exploration costs, but because their economy went south, mainly due to excessive military spending, and the collapse happened 1991, 22 years after the US "won" the space race.

But more importantly, she missed the whole point of the remarks. he was not calling for Americans to "celebrate" Sputnik, but to remember the success we had in that response and to emulate the efforts in our current situation. Learning from history is vital, and to do that you must get your facts straight. Unfortunately many , like Ms Palin, are apparently unable (or unwilling) to do that.

Now, before you get cocky and smug thinking "I knew that", I have a couple other examples of missing the point, that may apply to all of us at times. Things where we argue over details, facts , figures, but ignore the core.

First, in response to the Tucson shootings many have debated the relationship of heated (and often violent-image) rhetoric to the actual physical violence. There have been passionate arguments on both sides. Personally I happen to agree that political rabid speech did have an influence on the shooter (since he ranted anti-government statements and then attempted a political assassination). But shouldn't harsh words and violent-image rhetoric, as well as rudeness and name-calling be seen as wrong for the sake of common decency and good manners, regardless of what they might spawn? Whatever became of treating others the way we would like to be treated (the golden rule)?

Second, in the whole global climate change debate I think we have gotten a bit lost and entangled in numbers, projections, predictions, and fears. Passion leads to defensiveness all around. But I believe we have again forgotten simple manners : as our mothers would say "pick up after yourself, take out the garbage, clean up your own room, don't trash the house". If we keep putting more and more "garbage" in the air, water, and land, it's not healthy, period. If you have ever been near a car warming up on a cold winter's day and seen or smelled the exhaust you know that it is not healthy and anything we can do to reduce that "additive" to our air would be helpful. It isn't hard to find simple things you can do to help keep our global "home" cleaner, we only have to open our eyes, hands, and hearts.

It's like an archer who aims at nothing, forgetting about the target. To shoot off a lot of arrows may look impressive but it puts everybody at risk and leaves the target untouched. It's also much more fun to aim at the target, let fly the arrow, and hear the satisfying "thunp" as the shaft hits home:)

Saturday, January 22, 2011

wise debate

Are there people who talk politics who drive you crazy? People who sound like they live in a totally different universe? These days there seem to be more and more of them and it makes political dialogue difficult. As someone once said you have the right to your own opinion, but not to your own facts. If we can't agree on some basic realities there is no communication. Like trying to discuss math with someone who insists that 2+2=5.

But if we are to have sane political debate with those of differing views, how do we proceed wisely? First, have a firm grasp on yourself- what and why you believe and that you have a right to your opinion. Second, accept that others have that same right. Third, remember that you don't know it all and you can learn from others (no god complex or bullying). Fourth, be aware that sometimes you will have to "agree to disagree" agreeably, or avoid certain topics when you come to a standstill. You can still be friends and know that you will avoid areas where you can't agree.

And, lastly, be alert for signs of a closed mind. Some are convinced that they are always right. Some don't want to take the time to think or research, they tend to think in terms of talking points. Some want power and like to make points , regardless of what is true. And some are just not thinking clearly and no amount of debate will help.

Excessive or automatic name calling is a red flag for me. Everybody at one time or another will get frustrated and call someone a jerk, moron,etc...but when it becomes a frequent part of conversation it is evidence of a dismissive attitude toward those of differing opinions and is destructive of debate. Know and recognize the difference between someone who is ignorant - does not know - and someone who is ignoring - does not want to know.

But remember that as you have learned over the years from others, and have times of changing your mind, realize that can happen for others and you could be the agent of change for them. Everybody is prone to thinking in simplistic terms sometimes, or reacting in knee-jerk fashion. But hopefully we will take a second look or be open to correction.

For example, I once had a discussion with a friend about criminal trials. He was more on the conservative side and couldn't understand why the prosecution couldn't mention a defendant's prior record in the trial. I pointed out to him that this would prejudice the jury and sway them to conviction and not judge him according to the merits of the specific case. I said that if the defendant was convicted in this trial then in the sentencing phase the prosecution was free to bring up the prior record to effect the sentencing, but not before the verdict was delivered. He listened and said it made sense "I hadn't thought of that before" he said. I was glad.

There are those out there who don't listen, won't listen, and you waste your breath trying to talk to. You even waste your energy reacting to them even if they aren't near (TV, radio, online). There is a time to react, speak out, when to keep silent would be to seem to give assent to their views. But there is also a time to employ what I call the "Valley Girl response " say "whatever" to their comments, dismiss them as the irrational comments of those who do not want to discus or debate , just rile up and create controversy.Don't let yourself be drawn in or you will waste valuable time and is too short for that.

In the words of "The Gambler" - "you got to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold "em, know when to walk away, and know when to run".

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


Well, seems like someone did not read my blog...Rush...calling civility the new censorship...and Pat Buchanan seeing "lynch mobs" in the criticism of uncivil discourse:(

And then there is Sarah Palin...clueless in a softball interview with Sean Hannity on Monday on Fox. She not only did not apologize or take back her comments about "blood libel", she defended them and made more mistakes. She said that the term meant a false accusation and was valid to use, even though the historical context was much greater. Two things are wrong with that: one is one of magnitude. Even if there was valid libel (which there is not) it is like calling a common handgun as a "weapon of mass destruction". Both can kill, but the capacity to do harm is vastly different...and it cheapens and waters down the term "mass destruction" to use it about a simple handgun. Likewise for her link to historical atrocities through the use of blood libel.

But beyond that she does not even seem to know the meaning of the word "libel". It is not, as she stated, merely a term for accusation. In legal terms there are three requirements to constitute and prove libel: falsehood, knowledge, and intent. First it must be a matter of fact, not opinion.To give one's opinion, however faulty it might be, is not libel. I think this is the biggest flaw in her argument. Second , even if it is facts that are gotten wrong it must be proven that the one saying (slander) or writing them (libel) knew that they were false. If you simply get a fact wrong, due to bad information that is not libel. And thirdly, there must be proven intent to defame or damage another's reputation or position in order to prove libel.

All these things are hard to prove and it is this way for the protection of free speech and for the free flow of ideas, opinions and, yes, criticisms when wrong is seen. It is more difficult to prove libel or slander when the case involves a public figure ..political or otherwise. Private individuals deserve more protection. Public figures have put their lives out there for all the world to see and so invite more criticism. The Palin's and Rush's and Hannity's of the world are such public figures and should not expect to be shielded from criticism.

And if Sarah Palin plans on running for higher office she had better not only develop a thicker skin, she must bone up on her basic vocabulary...or at least carefully read any speech she has written for her beofre she delivers it.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Pogrom, really?

"Blood libel" and "pogrom" did those words creep into our national narrative? In reaction to reactions over the Tucson shootings one was used by a political commentator (who shall not be named here) and the other was used by a newspaper (again not named, though shameless). Both were over-reactions and both are connected by a theme ....victim-hood.

Both of these terms are part of the Jewish experience of the past centuries. Blood libel deals with accusations against Jews of murdering Christian children and using their blood in rituals. It was not only grossly false, but inflammatory...fueling anti-Semitic hatred and violence. Yet this week it was used to demonize statements made questioning the use of certain imagery in political ads. Libel is inaccurate since this was not a question of facts. Adding "blood" to the charge only makes it worse, and is claiming another's pain as your own.

Then later this week the term pogrom was used to describe the same criticisms.The paper airing this view said that criticisms of political speech by one side was part of an ongoing "pogrom" against the other side. Specifically that liberals were organizing a pogrom against conservatives. And this by the very folks who say that their speech had nothing to do with an act of violence against a political figure. A persecution complex is not valid political debate material.

Pogroms were government- approved or -condoned campaigns of violence against ethnic minorities ,usually Jewish,that were aimed at driving out or eliminating those populations that were deemed "undesirable". Usually the term referred to actions in the Russian Empire (where the term originated), but it was not limited to there. There were other instances of it and the worst was of course the Holocaust. Some times it was through incited riots, sometimes through prejudicial propaganda, and sometimes through direct government action. It is a terrible stain in world history. Many nations had anti-Semitic policies and attitudes (even the USA sadly), but the pogroms went far beyond this.To use this term about political criticism is inexcusable, in my opinion.

It also brings up the question..."was this just coincidence, poor choice of words, or a concerted effort to demonize legitimate criticism? "I don't know, but it does kind of validate some of the prior criticisms. If a person is criticized for being inflammatory and reacts by using more inflammatory words it seems to prove the point of the criticism, doesn't it? And if the words were simply chosen wrongly, innocently, doesn't it say something about the wisdom and discretion of the speaker/writer? If you don't know what a word or phrase means, please don't use it until you do some research.

And only time will reveal what the intentions of the speaker/writers are. Using this language implies the speaker/writer is feeling a victim and borrowing from others' more extreme pain. It also can be viewed as painting their critics with the colors of extremely vicious and hateful creatures of history.

This bears watching...and we would do well to watch our words....for we are all human and thus all fallible and capable of doing great harm with our words...May our words today echo the urgings of the President at the Tucson memorial, and be words of healing.

Sunday, January 9, 2011


When a horrific event like yesterday's shootings in Tucson happen many knee-jerk reactions occur. Accusations fly and often there are as many verbal targets as there were physical ones. Some people will angrily call for fixes, based on their particular point of view. And then people on the "other side" will respond just as angrily. This is understandable, since people are scared and hurt and helpless. No one, in their right mind, likes to see anyone senselessly hurt, and it scares us to see this happen so easily.

I personally believe there are just too many firearms in our society which raises the odds of these tragic events, just like too much brush around houses during fire season raises the odds of people losing their homes. And I think we are often desensitized to violence because of its presence in much of what we see and hear. We see it in games, stories, even cartoons, and forget that in the real world it has severe consequences.

But beyond that there is another issue. All the calls for personal responsibility, from many corners, stop short of asking us to watch our words. The usual response to calls to "ratchet it down" it was yesterday..."that's censorship". One group in the area that has been notably harsh in its rhetoric during the past political campaign stated that it was not going to change the way it spoke, citing free speech rights. I am reminded of the Malcolm quote from Jurrassic Park"your scientists were so preoccupied with what they could do, that they didn't think about whether they should". Just because we can, and thanks to the internet can do it anonymously, doesn't mean we should.

We are blessed with the freedom in this country to say what we think , but with that comes the responsibility to speak wisely. The shooter wasn't some battered veteran of life's bruises and bad breaks who finally snapped and lashed out with a gun. No, he was a kid. barely out of college, not in his right mind, who had obviously been exposed to a lot of vitriolic, hateful words, by those who dump their verbal garbage online with no hint of caring what damage it might do in the wrong hands.

This is not a partisan thing. I don't really care from whence it comes. Hate and hurt know no ideology,no party, no race. And, it is as true today as when I first heard it: "Hurt people'" hurt people. It doesn't matter who "started' it, we have a responsibility to all do our part to try and end it. Think before you speak..and think of who might be listening, and how they might take your words.

This isn't just about violence. Not all wounds are visible. Words themselves can cut and kill. And just because someone doesn't have the means to lash out doesn't mean they are any less injured. Most just hide in the shadows.

As people of faith we are called to build up, to encourage, to strengthen our fellow man. But I think in our quest to be "right" we have forgotten that. We are called to be our "brother's (and sister's) keeper", to make sure our speech is "full of grace", and to "love (our) neighbor as (ourselves)". We each need to ask ourselves again " how do I use my words?" , for none can be truly taken back once they are said (or written).