Monday, December 31, 2012

for a better new year

Well, we made it to the end of the apocalypse yet. We all look forward to the new year with a mix of anticipation and dread sometimes. We remember the good years and the bad years, and wonder which one this will be. Usually they are a mix of good and bad, successes and failures. But just like each day, each year is an opportunity for growth and progress. There are plenty of things we can't control but there are things we can and should do. How about we make a point of trying to be better on one thing like  being a positive influence on others?
      One thing that stood out in this past election year was the nastiness of the rhetoric. This isn't anything new, but still it bugged me. No, it saddened me. There are many people, including candidates, who couldn't just differ... they had to bicker. They couldn't just say they disagreed with someone else's position, they had to label it as  destructive or un-American... or even evil. They had to malign the character of an opponent, question their morals, attack their family, etc.
      For example, recently Secretary of State Hillary Clinton caught the flu and became dehydrated, then fell and suffered a concussion -- something that is stressful and dangerous for anyone, but more so for someone who is in her 60's. Rather than express concern for her welfare and recovery, which would be the decent thing to do, many commentators questioned the report of her illness and asserted that she was using it as a ruse to get out of testifying  about her department's handling of an international incident (Benghazi). Besides the question of whether  Clinton would duck a controversy (I think it unlikely), there is the question of why people are so quick to assume the worst about someone and refuse to extend kindness? And considering that she now is being treated in the hospital for a blood clot near her brain, there are a number of vocal people out there who need to offer a sincere apology... it is common decency.
      In contrast, when former President George H.W. Bush went into the hospital with a high fever (high enough to necessitate an  ICU stay), there were many extensions of well wishes for his health, including many from those who didn't share his politics. I read one article where the comments were very encouraging (with the exception of one or two negative comments). That is how it should be.
       I guess it is part in how we were raised. My mom's favorite phrase was "accentuate the positive". I was raised to believe the best and expect the best of people. If they behaved badly then they got criticism, but I gave them the benefit of the doubt, especially in matters of health. I do not like to see anyone suffer, regardless of their politics. 
      What do you say? Can we make this a year of doing our best to try and make others' lives better...Even if it is just a kind word, a hello, a thank you. We can't control the future, but we can infuse our surroundings with the light of our smiles and the warmth of our hugs. Thanks, and a Happy New year to everyone. May it be the best one ever!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Too Much

We live in a world of too many guns and too much fear.  That is my take on the recent shootings in theater, mall, and now elementary school. Too many opportunities for those in fear or instability or anger to do great harm to others. We have cultivated a climate where violence is seen as the answer to all our problems and where peace, compromise, and diplomacy are scorned as weak and ineffective.

We have even now many who really think that the answer to gun violence is more guns? Those who would arm teachers, make every meeting place and public gathering an armed camp. And that is supposed to make us safer? They would dare others, in the words of Charlton Heston, to pry (their guns) from (our) cold dead hands". They swear allegiance to the America, but at the same time spread rumors of conspiracies by the same government to take away their precious guns.

Many of these same people who are so committed to their ownership of guns proclaim faith and trust in God. Yet their white-knuckled grip on their weapons and their eagerness to believe every plot rumor that comes down the pike I think speaks against it. It would seem to me that they are placing their security in guns, not in God. There is nothing wrong with careful planning and reasonable precautions against potential danger. But when you hold onto something, anything, to the detriment of friendship and peace, something is seriously wrong.

Those who would put limits on weapons , or call for improvements to our mental health system, are addressing part of the problem. But the solution does not reside solely in these improvements. We must combat our fears and foster peaceful resolutions, so that people are less likely to seek violent answers to their beefs, whether or not they are armed. There must be an active spreading of the message of peace and modeling of it. We must make sure that we are not the cause of conflict, as much as it is in our power to do so.

And we must combat the myths that surround us. We do not have freedom in this country due to armed force alone. We are free because we have been committed, down through the generations, to preserving liberty for all and standing for a unique blend of liberty and law. Remember that the first duty of the President of the US, in the words of the presidential oath, is to " preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States".  Without that and the rights inshrined within it, we are no different than any other nation in the world, and security is simply self-preservation, not protection of liberty.

So what have you done, or what will you do today to spread peace instead of war, love instead of hate, and hope instead of fear?  Blessed are the peacemakers, it is said. Wise words indeed.

Monday, December 3, 2012

end of the world as we know it

Do you remember the story of Chicken Little, who thought the sky was falling when an acorn fell on its head? We laugh at the silliness of the chick, but many times there are people around us who are doing much the same thing. December 21st, 2012 is just around the corner and there aren't that many who still take the end of the world predictions for that date (based on a misread Mayan calendar) very seriously anymore. We all dismissed our fears about 1984, made it through Y2K just fine, and made jokes about Harold Camping's apocalyptic predictions last year.

Yet another kind of end of the world hysteria , all too common as these, has arisen again. The specter of loser hysteria, doom and gloom because of election loss, the hand-wringing by those who can't just accept that their candidate lost (or that the other side won). Those on the right were mad enough that Barack Obama won in 2008. They became unhinged when he won re-election last month. They talked about "the death of my country" , the end of Western civilization, the loss of freedom and the rising of tyranny. And, as often happens, they threatened to leave the US if the results were not reversed. Not that that will happen of course.

There are two big problems with this. One is that they are, like Chicken Little, vastly over-reacting to changes they don't like. They can't deal with thought that their candidate lost and they are pulling the "I'll hold my breath till I turn blue,if you won't do what I want" -kind of juvenile behavior. Losing is not easy, adapting to change can be hard, but it is necessary to grow. Real character is shown in how you deal with loss, even more sometimes than with winning. And there are a lot of people on the right who are showing a woeful lack of character.

The other problem is that the people who are going bonkers in fear are the ones who should be fearing the least  - if they only lived what they said they believed. They claim to be people of faith yet have so much doubt. At this time of remembering the first advent of Christ, we recall from scripture that the second coming is supposed to usher in a time of peace, harmony, and healing for the world. The "end of the world as we know it" should be welcomed , as it becomes the" start of the world as it should be". At least to those who truly look for it and believe in hope. These people, however, are by their words and actions  exposed as religious frauds.

So celebrate December 21st, is the Winter Solstice....when the days start getting longer, the nights shorter, and the New Year beckons:)