Thursday, February 20, 2020
What if Americans had spent 6.4 trillion on ending poverty, injustice, refugees, the homeless, building infrastructure, helping impoverished countries?
Instead, the U.S. spent, according to a new study,* 6.4 trillion on wars in the last 19 years!
Even worse, in none of those places is the situation better than before the U.S. invaded.
“Even if the United States withdraws completely from the major war zones by the end of FY2020 and halts its other Global War on Terror operations, in the Philippines and Africa for example, the total budgetary burden of the post-9/11 wars will continue to rise as the U.S. pays the on-going costs of veterans’ care and for interest on borrowing to pay for the wars,” Crawford writes.
Even worse, there are other war expenditures such as new billions for nuclear weapons that President Obama started and President Trump is continuing:
"A Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report in February estimates that the United States will spend $400 billion on nuclear weapons from fiscal years 2017 through 2026. (See ACT, March 2017.) That is an increase of $52 billion, or 15 percent, from the CBO’s previous 10-year estimate of $348 billion, which was published in January 2015."
Please work for a shift by the U.S. away from invasion wars, civilian killings, and the supporting of unjust regimes to INSTEAD spend trillions on ending poverty, injustice, inequality and to promoting human rights and well-being.
In the Light,
Saturday, January 25, 2020
from Ahimsa: The Path of Harmlessness by Thich Nhat Hanh
[to not violate—literally means “non-harming” or “harmlessness.”
“...first of all we have to practice it within ourselves.
“Anyone can practice some nonviolence, even soldiers. Some army generals, for example, conduct their operations in ways that avoid killing innocent people; this is a kind of nonviolence.
“To help soldiers move in the nonviolent direction, we have to be in touch with them. If we divide reality into two camps-the violent and the nonviolent-and stand in one camp while attacking the other, the world will never have peace. We will always blame and condemn those we feel are responsible for wars and social injustice, without recognizing the degree of violence in ourselves.
“We must work on ourselves and also work with those we condemn if we want to have a real impact.
“It never helps to draw a line and dismiss some people as enemies, even those who act violently. We have to approach them with love in our hearts and do our best to help them move in a direction of nonviolence. If we work for peace out of anger, we will never succeed. Peace is not an end. It can never come about through non-peaceful means.
“When we protest against a war, we may assume that we are a peaceful person, a representative of peace, but this might not be the case...
With this insight, we can see clearly and help our government see clearly. Then we can go to a demonstration and say, "This war is unjust, destructive, and not worthy of our great nation." This is far more effective than angrily condemning others. Anger always accelerates the damage.
“You may think that the way to change the world is to elect a new President, but a government is only a reflection of society, which is a reflection of our own consciousness. To create fundamental change, we, the members of society, have to transform ourselves. If we want real peace, we have to demonstrate our love and understanding so that those responsible for making decisions can learn from us.
“When we see social injustice, if we practice non-action, we may cause harm. When people need us to say or do something, if we don't, we can kill by our inaction or our silence.
“To practice ahimsa, we need gentleness, loving kindness, compassion, joy...[to ourselves] and other people.
“Real peace must be based on insight and understanding, and for this we must practice deep reflection-looking deeply into each act and each thought of our daily lives.
“To prevent war, to prevent the next crisis, we must begin right now. When a war or a crisis has begun, it is already too late.
From Love in Action by Thich Nhat Hanh
Read the whole book of powerful insightful articles.
Sunday, January 19, 2020
"In 2016, 81% of white evangelical Christians voted for Donald Trump after (among other things) hearing an audio recording of him bragging about sexually assaulting women.
Maya Angelou famously said, “when someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.”
In the years since, even after enacting deliberately cruel policies to rip families apart and put children in cages at the southern border, evangelical support is as fervent as ever.
I was raised in the Evangelical world. It shaped me. I learned to take the words of Jesus seriously - love God, love your neighbor, feed the hungry, fight for justice for the oppressed. I thought that things like love, kindness, gentleness, and self-control MATTERED. I have been so confused and deeply saddened by the unflinching loyalty to a man who so clearly embodies the opposite of these values.
This song is a lament. It's a loving rebuke. It's a plea for the 81%, to come home to the way of Jesus."
Songwriter Daniel Deitrich
BOOKS--the wonder of humankind's written heritage, a treasure (though in some cases a horror).
A good book of leaves composts through our winters.
"decayed organic material (as of leaves and grass) used to improve soil especially for growing crops."
"to convert (a material, such as plant debris) to compost...
a mixture that consists largely of decayed organic matter and is used for fertilizing"
"We compost leaves in our backyard."
Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary
"...of Latin compositus, past participle of componere "to put together,"
Literature is a record of how humans come to terms with our own mortality and the meaning of time itself.
To push back the darkness a little bit at a time, in the same flighty manner as lightening bugs.
Writing [and reading and chewing on] a book is like taking a journey. You know where you want to go but you don’t always know who you might meet or what you might experience along the way.
Reading a book often takes one far from one's own shores and locality.
Where has a great or good book taken you?
Has its leaves of meaning, story, characters and themes composted through difficult times in your life?
There have been great societies that did not use the wheel, but there have been no societies that did not tell stories.
Ursula Le Guin
[Reading is a way to be part of the family of humanity] Costa Ricans felt compassion for Kosovo refugees because they had read The Diary of Anne Frank.
Literature is a journey, not something to finish.
[What about rereading stories and books?]
Do we say we don’t plan to ‘do summer’ this year since we’ve done it before?
A book helps me make sense of my experience.
Characters in the plot connect us with the vastness of our secret life, which is endlessly explorable.
Friday, January 3, 2020
Saturday, November 23, 2019
Part 4: Realistic Hope
1.Begin with Reason
2.Humbly Seek and Search
3.Base Your Actions on Moral Realism
4.Don't Start with Ancient Scriptures
5.Study Cosmology, Astronomy, and Other Sciences
6.Be Open to Discovery, but Cautious of Speculative Claims
7.Keep an Informed Mind and Hopeful Outlook
8.Avoid Confirmation Bias, In-Group Dynamics,
Fallacies,and 'Anecdotal Evidence.'
9.Speak Truth to Power; Work for Peace and Justice
10.Commune with Others in Awe in the Light
Live Oak Meeting House
PART #3: REALISTIC HOPE—Don’t Start with Ancient Scripture.
1. Begin with Reason
2. Humbly Search to Discover and Base Your Behavior Toward Others Upon Kindness, Meticulous Honesty, etc.
3. Don't Start with the Most Speculative or Ancient Scriptures
When one decides it’s time to think about the philosophical nature of Reality, beyond the truths of moral realism and basic reasonable living, then
one ought NOT
first seek guidance from ancient literature
such as the Jewish Bible or the Christian New Covenant. 1
INSTEAD, all human ought to study user-friendly academic books on astronomy, cosmology, and evolutionary biology.
Based upon those extensive facts, scientific discoveries, defended theories, and a general overview of basic reality, (along with reason and moral realism), a human can then begin
to make educated guesses as to the inherent or transcendent nature of God.
Always keep an open informed mind.
--Avoid confirmation bias,
--fallacies of thinking,
--popular anecdotal ‘evidence,’
At this point, one of the many reductionists or skeptics will probably jump in and emphasize that all of this worldview of Reality is built on presuppositions such as moral realism, the realness of the human mind, self-aware consciousness, and moral responsibility.
That, of course, is true.
No view of Reality begins without a few presuppositions which form the foundation. Heck, science can’t even function unless one accepts such presuppositions as that meticulous honesty must form the basis of all research.
And, it is possible, as the famous atheist, philosopher, and Nobel-winning writer, Albert Camus, wrote, that reality is “absurd.”
However, most scientists and thinkers do think that reality exists objectively, that humans are capable of meticulous honesty, and we are all morally responsible.
NASA scientists, mathematicians, and technologists have been able to repeatedly send probes into space, including all the way to Pluto, to land surveyors on Mars, and astronauts onto the moon, and to the International Space Station.
None of those achievements could have happened if math is "fictional," if the cosmos isn’t out there, and so forth.
So those basic presuppositions, based upon Enlightenment values, don’t seem like a quick-sand foundation.
2 Even if there is no reality out-there, even if moral realism is fallacious, even if all humans are “biochemical puppets,” (to quote Sam Harris), etc., Albert Camus wrote then
we humans ought to “rebel” against such an absurd existence.
Camus sought to live this out, living as if moral realism is true,
as if justice is real,
as if humans do have inherent worth.
He emphasized that slaughtering humans is wrong, that justice ought to be pursued, that even capital punishment of murderers is unjust!
1 IF the 66 books of the Bible (or other Scriptures including the Quran, the Mahabharata, the Bhagavad Gita, Buddhist Sutras) had truly been revelations from God, then all of many horrific immoral, unjust texts wouldn’t have been included in such Scripture.
Think of all very evil slaughters, enslavements, thefts, lies, etc. that multi-millions of believers have committed in the last 3,000 years because of those evil verses!
As for the marvelous morally true passages, if led by God, his followers when reading and memorizing their holy books in a supernatural way, would have lived inspired moral just lives.
THE EXACT OPPOSITE HAPPENED MOST OF THE TIME.
Study the tragedy and absurdity of history of ancient Judaism and creedal Christianity (the Roman Catholic Church, Reformed Church, Lutheran Church, Evangelicals, Charismatics, etc.) . God believers have avidly persecuted, oppressed, abused, stolen, lied, even committed genocide, burned at the stake, drowned, tortured in the name of their God and his abstract doctrines and dogmas.
Very few—only a tiny number—of believers
have sought to live some of the great moral ideals of ancient Jewish writers and statements of truth from Yeshua and other writers in the NT.
Even today in the 21st century, rampant evil happens because of devout believers in God.
In the U.S. at least 78% of Evangelical Christians support immoral and unjust and unequal polices completely contrary to the very words of Jesus’ moral truths.
Millions of American Christians strongly support a government administration who advocates the violation of the Geneva Conventions, supports autocratic regimes such as Saudi Arabia and Turkey (who execute, deny human rights and freedom of religion, and imprison many thousands of innocent humans).
This ‘Christian’ Trump administration emphasizes arrogance—U.S. FIRST, and it demeans, name-calls, distorts, lies, bullies, and sells weapons to unjust governments.
It builds a multi-million-dollar wall to keep out refugees--the illiterate, impoverished, and persecuted.
It falsely accuses most of these ‘huddled masses’ of humans as being thugs and drug cartel killers,
that is completely disproven by known statistics which show that most cartel drugs come through ports of entry into the U.S.
So many famous Christian leaders such as James Dobson of Focus on the Family and Evangelist Franklin Graham claim that God supports President Donald Trump. They claim that Trump is God’s man, that God put him in the Whitehouse! Some even state that those who didn’t vote for Trump are against God!
YET these same Evangelicals claim that billions of us humans are foreordained to eternal damnation because we don’t believe in strange abstract doctrines such as Original Sin, Penal Substitution, and the Trinity.
Thankfully, we don't need to live by ancient texts,