Monday, February 19, 2018

Giant Image of Toddler Peers Over U.S. Border Wall



A giant toddler structure built by French artist JR peers over the U.S. Border Wall to California from Tecate, Mexico. The wall extends at least 650 miles.
Photo from JR

"Now, as an artist, I think that it's amazing that the piece arrived at a moment when it creates more dialogue because the idea itself is to raise more questions."
--JR

The French artist got the idea to create the massive border photo from a vivid dream he had of a toddler peering into the U.S. So he went to Mexico and sought out a family who would let him erect a huge picture on their property.

Finally, he met a Mexican mother living along the border wall who agreed to his plans. JR said, "There was a little kid looking at us the whole time with two hands on the side of his crib looking at us...he looks exactly like that kid I dreamed of.' "

That toddler, Kikito, is only 1 year old. He has "no idea that's a wall that divides people — he has no idea of the political context," JR imagined. "What is he thinking?"

"...we know all the implications, what it represents, how it divides. But for a kid, I didn't have the answer."

“I said hello to the little kid, and we played a little. But, I didn’t think of photographing him.”

However, soon after as he drove away, it suddenly hit him that Kikito reminded him of the little kid in his dream so he turned around and drove back to the woman's house. "He's the little kid." So he took the toddler's photo and enlarged it to a gigantic size.
-
"...within days of the Trump administration's decision to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program protecting 800,000 immigrants, JR erected a massive artwork towering dozens of feet above the existing wall.

The boy, hair swept to the side and focus drawn by an unseen object, peeks with evident interest from the Mexican side over the slats of the wall at...California, as if looking over the railing of his crib."

"Basically, we had to build a bigger wall to make this [U.S. Border] wall look ridiculous."
--

"Most of the people, [who see the wall, or even drive there] if you read the comments, [were] not talking politics or they didn't mention the name of the president. It was about people."
--

JR hopes that his border project will continue to bring people to the wall, to talk through the metal slats, even after he takes down his art. He has 1 million Instagram followers.

Already, "visitors on both sides chatted through the slats of the fencing and passed phones back and forth to photograph each other. People on the US side took selfies through the holes of the wall with visitors on the Mexico side. At that moment, the wall almost became invisible.

"Two smiling men in beards hold up a phone as they stand in front of fence; on other side, you can see women smiling and making the peace sign with their fingers. People on the US side of the border take selfies through the border wall with people in Mexico on the other side, just below JR’s art installation." Sonia Narang/PRI

“I think that’s the most interesting part, the fact that it connects people.

I always love to think as an ethnologist,” said JR. “The fact that you went there, and you tell me that people exchanged their phones through the fence and it created interaction between people that would never talk, for me, that’s the most amazing part of the project.”

The toddler's mother "from her window now looks up to see the massive silhouette of her child every day."

"She said, 'you know, it's my son and I can recognize him, but I hope for the others, it represents any kid, any person — anyone that has dreams, and dreams that are not alienated by any political vision or any prejudice...'"
from Heard on All Things Considered
COLIN DWYER
https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/09/08/549491208/as-boy-peers-curiously-over-border-wall-his-artist-asks-what-is-he-thinking



In the Light of HOPE and Sharing, NOT dividing with walls,

Daniel Wilcox

Friday, February 16, 2018

Guest Post: Illegal Aliens--What is this "Crime"?


GUEST POST: from-- What Is This "Crime," Really?
BY Orson Scott Card



10-year-old ill girl, who has lived in the U.S. since an infant, arrested by ICE at a hospital where she just had surgery. She was taken to a detention center:-(


"Since the only crime most of these people are committing is simply being here without permission, we would give them a reasonable way to get that permission without losing everything else in order to get it."
--

"A fifteen-year-old boy...has been yearning for his driver's license for a long time.

But today all thoughts of waiting for his license are out the window, because his little sister cut herself and he can't stop the bleeding. His parents aren't home.

So David puts his sister in the car and, holding a towel on the wound to apply pressure, he drives the car one-handed out onto the road and goes as fast as the car can go, heading for the nearest medical emergency center.

...a state trooper sees him driving too fast and pulls him over. David tries to explain that he's only driving illegally in order to save his sister's life, but the trooper doesn't listen.

He drags David out of the car and handcuffs him and yells at him...

David..."My sister is bleeding to death! Let me get her to the hospital!"

But it's as if the trooper is deaf to anything David has to say."
--

"I'm sick at heart about the number of Americans, including friends of mine who should know better, who are proud of being exactly like that state trooper, when it comes to the question of illegal immigrants.

"They have no right to be here in the first place. If we give these people amnesty and let them stay and apply for citizenship, we only encourage more illegal immigration in the future. Besides, they use up our welfare and add to our school costs without paying taxes!"

In vain do the immigrants try to explain that their families were desperately poor, doomed to continue to live on the edge of starvation, and the only hope was America ... which wouldn't let them in.

Why can't we look at what these people are actually doing? Why can't we see the bleeding child in the passenger seat, and realize that most of these illegal immigrants are doing precisely what you or I would do in the same circumstances?
--
So what is this vile crime of "illegal immigration" that requires us to throw out hard-working people...?

It consists of crossing over an arbitrary line that somebody drew in the dirt a century and a half ago. On one side of the line, poverty, hopelessness, a social system that keeps you living as a peasant, keeps your children uneducated and doomed to the same miserable life you have -- or worse.

On the other side of the line, plenty of jobs that are going begging because nobody who lives on that side is desperate enough to work all day for a wage so low. But the wage is enormous to you. It would save your family's lives, give you hope for your children...

Wouldn't you take any risk to get across that line?

*
We Americans, what exactly did we do to earn our prosperity, our freedom? Well, for most of us, what we did was: be born.

Yeah, we work for our living and pay our taxes and all that, but you know what? I haven't seen many native-born American citizens who work as hard as the Mexican-born people I see working in minimum-wage jobs in laundries and yard services and intermittent subcontracting projects and other semi-skilled and unskilled positions.

I have no idea which (if any) of the people I see doing this work are legals and which are illegals -- but that's my point. Latin American immigrants, as a group, are hard-working, family-centered, God-fearing people who contribute mightily to our economy.
--

"But they come here and commit crimes and live off of our welfare system!"

Wait a minute. Who is "they"? All of the illegal immigrants?

Only a certain percentage of them. But when we round up illegal immigrants, do we make the slightest effort to distinguish between those who commit crimes here, those who scam the system to get welfare, and those who are working hard and living by all the rules?

No. We send them all home. There is, under present law, no special treatment for illegal immigrants who, during their time in the U.S., work hard and don't take anything from anybody without paying for it.
--

And yet most of the illegal immigrants commit no crimes, but instead live frugally and work hard. In fact, I dare say that many illegal immigrants work harder and obey our social rules more faithfully than a good many citizens whose right to live within our borders is unquestioned.

And if all you can say to that is, "It doesn't matter, send them all home, give them no hope of citizenship because we don't want to reward people for breaking the law to enter our country," then here's my answer to you:

Let's apply that standard across the board. No mercy. No extenuating circumstances. No sense of punishment that is proportionate to the crime. Let's handle traffic court that way.

The penalty for breaking any traffic law, from now on, is: revocation of your license and confiscation of your car. Period...Driving 70 in a 65 zone on the freeway? No license, no car.
--

No mercy, no exceptions, no consideration for the differences between traffic offenders.
--

"But it wouldn't be fair!" you reply.

That's right. It wouldn't be fair. Yet that's exactly the same level of fairness that I hear an awful lot of Americans demanding in order to curtail the problem of illegal immigration.
--

The only thing that makes illegal immigration a problem is that it's illegal. If we simply opened our southern border the way all our borders were open in the 1800s, then would there be any continuing burden?


Most of these immigrants would still work hard, only now they would have their families with them and the money would not drain away to Mexico. Those who prospered would pay income taxes. So economically, there would be an improvement.

Some would freeload off the system...There is no major immigrant group that has not spawned its criminals. Irish, Germans, Italians, Chinese, Russian Jews...

And yet we would have regarded it as a great injustice to throw out all the immigrants from each of these groups, just because some of them committed crimes. In this country, we have a long tradition of punishing only the individual who does wrong, not his entire ethnic group.
--

So what, exactly, would be the cost to us of an open-door immigration policy? What evidence do we have that the immigrants who would flood across our boundaries would be any worse than the waves of Irish, German, Chinese, Vietnamese, Italian, Russian, Polish, Japanese, or British immigrants?
--

By one perfectly rational reading of history, the whole southwestern quarter of the United States actually consists of unjustly conquered territory in which the native inhabitants -- the legal citizens -- were torn apart from their fellow citizens to the south, and our immigration policy consists of denying Mexicans the right to access lands that were historically theirs, and where former Mexican citizens who were involuntarily annexed to the U.S. were long oppressed and discriminated against.
--

There is no historical basis for any American to claim the moral high ground when talking about Mexican immigration to the United States.
--
Since the only crime most of these people are committing is simply being here without permission, we would give them a reasonable way to get that permission without losing everything else in order to get it.
--

Why in the world do we regard that as a crime?"

by Orson Scott Card
Go to his website to read the rest of his important essay:
http://www.ornery.org/essays/warwatch/2006-06-25-1.html
--

Especially, we need to give the Dreamers--little kids and infants brought here many years ago--the chance to stay here and become citizens.


There ought to be NO MORE tragic debacles of justice such as ICE, recently, arresting a 10-year-old ill girl after her surgery and taking her to a deportation center, even though she has lived in the U.S. since being brought here as an infant!

NO MORE splitting up of hard-working families as uncompassionately happened this last month in Michigan and Illinois. In the one case a hard-working professor who has lived in the U.S. for over 30 years, was arrested after dropping his kids off at school:-(




Consider Card's wise words of wisdom which strongly counter all the other narrow, self-centered Christian nationalism of 'U.S. First, First...'






In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

Thursday, February 15, 2018

ALWAYS define terms, carefully, first!


AronRa, a strongly convinced atheist, has created a number of powerful YouTube videos explaining why theism is a delusion.


BUT what is strange and baffling is that I, a strongly convinced theist, actually, agree with a fairly large number of his central points!

For instance, I completely agree with AronRa's opposition to "creationism" being taught in public schools. The religious concept is a delusion! It has been proven over and over by countless scientific evidence that earth wasn't created about 6-10,000 years ago.

Creationism is fallacious, anti-scientific and contrary to biology, genetics, anthropology, physics, etc.

As a former teacher, it deeply troubles me that millions of Americans still call for "creationism" in its various forms to be an option in public education! And that the government of Turkey has decided to eliminate the teaching of evolution in its schools!
Etc.

In one of AranRa's almost humorous, tongue-twisting, exact phrases he states that his atheism represents--
"secular, humanist, skeptical, rational, scientifically literate, intellectual..."

Without going into a lot of detail, based upon AronRa's videos it appears that I am by his definitions--
secular
humanist
skeptical
rational
scientifically literate
intellectual
!

So, then exactly how is it that he and I have completely different central worldviews and lifestances toward reality?

According to his central definitions of atheism, theism, and religion, I am an "atheist"!
(This isn't all that new. In 2017, a number of atheists claimed that I was really an "atheist."
At about the same time, a famous Christian leader emphasized--as no doubt many others would--that I was NEVER a Christian in my 55 years as a devout, dedicated Christian, not even when I was a liberal Baptist youth minister, elder, mission worker, Bible teacher, etc.)

YET, I am intellectually convinced theist.

HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE?!

Here's one example of why definitions of terms are vital.

One point I especially appreciate about AronRa is that he, carefully, explicitly defines his words, even in his short popular videos.

Consider this:
"Anti-theist Answers to Slick Questions" by AronRa
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6qRT6MjjSs

1. How do you define atheism?

"Atheism is a lack of belief in a deity...
“a deity being defined as a magical anthropomorphic immortal”
--AronRa

Lightwaveseeker (my response):

Baffling! Confusing and Bemusing.

In at least 61 years of my 70-year-life, I NEVER believed in "a magical, anthropomorphic immortal."

What I believed before I was about 7 or 9 years of age, I don't remember, but probably whatever I was told by my parents, others, and books. All I do remember is having been born with a "why" in my throat, always asking questions about life, until it often drove my parents to tell me to stop asking, to just accept...

That I refused to do.

However, by the time I was about 9 years of age, when I often tried to conceive of "God," I thought of God as like oxygen--real, invisible, everywhere, and necessary for life:-)

To my knowledge, as a child, I NEVER thought God was "magical,"
and NEVER thought God was "anthropomorphic,"
and certainly didn't think so as a teen, a university student, a thinker, mental health worker, educator, etc.

If one defines theism as belief in "a magical anthropomorphic immortal," then I've never been a theist as long as I've been a thinking, questioning, doubting seeker.


Of course, most of my adult life I have viewed "God" as defined by Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary in its opening definition:
God "1 capitalized : the supreme or ultimate reality:"

I don't recall ever using the term "immortal" to describe "u.r.", however, I did think the ultimate nature of reality was everlasting or eternal, which are synonyms of "immortal."

So in the last word, guilty as charged.

AronRa also thinks there are moral absolutes, that there are human rights, and so forth.

Heck, AronRa and Lightwaveseeker have a lot more in common than one would first suppose.

Wonders never cease;-)

In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox



Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Part 2: Soldier War Versus Mass Slaughter of Civilians



Despite the horrific and tragic news which assaults us humans every day and long into the despairing night, we need to keep in mind great statements of ethical leaders such as this:
"...refuse to accept despair as the final response to the ambiguities of history.
...refuse to accept the idea that the "isness" of man's present nature makes him morally incapable of reaching up for the eternal "oughtness" that forever confronts him."

For Christian, Muslim, and secular leaders are blaring out real threats (and spending multi-trillions of dollars on weapons). Their volatile statements sound like this:
We intentionally plan to torture and murder millions to assure "peace."

The Great War, the 30 Years War, the Crusades, ad nauseum, show that planning and building for war eventually leads to horrific wars mostly fought by dutiful individuals of differing countries.

And that soldiers fighting, tragically, eventually leads to the murder of many civilians.

AGAIN, a central maxim: Not only is the action of intentionally killing civilians horrifically immoral, EVEN THE INTENT to destroy, torture, slaughter, steal, abuse is evil.

For instance, imagine a neighbor who has been threatened by another neighbor. Then the threatened man stockpiles his house with bombs and other weapons and overtly threatens to kill his bad neighbor and all of the latter's family and all of their extended relatives, and everyone near them!

Does this sound like an ethical policy?

Nuclear weapons are the very real threat--terrorism to the max--for the purpose of mass slaughter. A threat is only a threat if it is real and probable.

If a nation threatens to rape all the children of another nation, its threat has to be real, or it won't be threatening.

Since the U.S. has already dropped nukes on hundreds of thousands of civilians, including over an elementary school, wiping about 200,000 civilians,
and since many, probably most, Americans still think the U.S. is always right,
and they still think that America is "blessed" to have many thousands of nuclear weapons,
it seems to me, that eventually the U.S.
if it ever gets desperate will, again, slaughter hundreds of thousands of civilians.

The ONLY reason the U.S. condemns HAMAS and other "terrorist" groups for their terrorism is because we disagree with their aims, and because we are strong enough that we don't think we need small acts of terrorism ourselves.

Remember the keen slogan: A "terrorist" setting off a bomb is a soldier of a nation that doesn't have an air force.

Nations slaughter far more when they bomb than any walking or driving Islamic jihadist ever has.

If a new situation came up, where the U.S. was an underdog, it appears likely that the U.S. would again justify the slaughter of untold civilians. Some U.S. leaders have already threatened to do so to Iran!

See, it's like torture. The U.S. tortures BUT it doesn't call it torture, because it's only "torture" when the enemy does it;
when we do such actions,
it's justice.

Good grief.

When our enemies kill civilians they are terrorists, but when we kill civilians we are are heroic leaders defending our country.

As a follower of of Martin Luther King, Thich Nhat Hanh, etc., I oppose all wars, but I still do recognize that we humans, for whatever reason, no matter how cultured and how educated still,
in every generation, do descend into wars, always justifying them...

And that we think the wars are always the enemy's fault, never ours...

SO I do recognize that given the extreme selfish, hypocritical nature of nations (group egotism),
there will, probably, always be a national DEFENSE.

But that OUGHT to be soldier-against-soldier, NOT the intentional killing of civilians.

If Muslim-Christian soldiers aim their guns at Jewish soldiers, then Jewish soldiers have the right to defend themselves and their nation. And vice versa.

That is entirely different from weapons of mass destruction, which are primarily for threatening and executing of millions.

Hopefully, WMD will never be used again. But I guess I am pessimistic, especially now that another arms race appears to be starting.

Humans almost always use the weapons they have created because they think that they are the "good guys," ALWAYS.
Especially if they are the underdog.

Stand against this coming unethical darkness,

Daniel Wilcox




The New U.S. Plan for More Nuclear Weapons versus Reconciliation

"North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un just stated that the 'Nuclear Button is on his desk at all times.' Will someone from his
depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!"
--President Donald J. Trump, January 2, 2018

and

“My first order as President was to renovate and modernize our nuclear arsenal. It is now far stronger and more powerful than ever before. Hopefully we will never have to use this power, but there will never be a time that we are not the most powerful nation in the world!”

“The United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes.”

“Perhaps someday in the future there will be a magical moment when the countries of the world will get together to eliminate their nuclear weapons. Unfortunately, we are not there yet.”

"'America First' will be the major and overriding theme..."
--President Trump

VERSUS

"A nation that continues year after year, to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift, is approaching spiritual death."
--MLK

--

YET, even without President Trump's new trillions on war-making, the U.S. already has the ability to damage civilian structures greater than all the way around the earth, 48,269 km!!

Nations in the "Nuclear Club" already have enough weapons to annihilate all humans living:-(

Tragically, former President Obama also started an update of our nuclear arsenal--that will cost, eventually, at least 1 trillion dollars!

And some Congressmen and Senators have also called for the possible use of nuclear arms, particularly against Iran.

Here we go with a new nuclear arms race:-(

“The new arms race has already begun,” says former Defense Secretary William Perry. “It’s different in nature than the one during the Cold War, which focused on quantity and two superpowers producing absurd numbers of weapons. Today it is focused on quality and involves several nations instead of just two. The risk for nuclear conflict today is higher than it was during the Cold War.”
--Time Magazine


Of course, in some ways nuclear arms are no more lethal when they hit their targets than any other major bombs. Major regular fire-bombing campaigns of the past killed MANY MILLIONS of civilians.

BUT nuclear weapons of the present, bomb for bomb, will slaughter far more than conventional bombs. And the newer ones will destroy a much larger area, will turn civilization to ash, reduce cities to moonscape.
--
from The Washington Post:
"Every president since Reagan has worked to reduce the size of the U.S. nuclear arsenal and dreamed of a world free from nuclear weapons. Not Trump. 'Perhaps someday in the future there will be a magical moment when the countries of the world will get together to eliminate their nuclear weapons," he said. “Unfortunately, we are not there yet.” He proposed more spending to “modernize and rebuild our nuclear arsenal.”
--Washington Post
James Hohmann
--

from Time Magazine:
"In addition to putting the Nevada testing ground on notice, he has signed off on a $1.2 trillion plan to overhaul the entire nuclear-weapons complex. Trump has authorized a new nuclear warhead, the first in 34 years. He is funding research and development on a mobile medium-range missile. The new weapon, if tested or deployed, would be prohibited by a 30-year-old Cold War nuclear-forces agreement with Russia (which has already violated the agreement). And for the first time, the U.S. is expanding the scenarios under which the President would consider going nuclear to “significant non-nuclear strategic attacks,” including major cyberattacks."

"Trump has openly threatened to unleash “fire and fury like the world has never seen,” and has been hostile toward international agreements. He reportedly called for more, not fewer, nuclear weapons in a July 20 Pentagon briefing, where military advisers were upbraided for presenting global reductions in nuclear stockpiles as progress."

“The long-standing strategic policy of the United States has been to reduce the role and number of nuclear weapons,” says Andrew Weber, who spent 30 years on nuclear-weapons issues in the State and Defense departments before retiring in 2015. “That idea seems to have been balled up and thrown out the window.”
http://time.com/5128394/donald-trump-nuclear-poker/
W.J. Hennigan

From The New York Times:
"The United States currently has about 7,000 nuclear weapons in the stockpile, including about 1,750 strategic warheads deployed in missile silos, on bombers and in submarines around the world, according to the Federation of American Scientists. That is down from more than 30,000 warheads at the height of the Cold War. Russia has about 7,300 nuclear weapons, the federation says.

Under the New Start treaty, both countries have committed to reducing the number of deployed nuclear weapons to 1,550 by 2018, though that figure can be exceeded because each bomber is counted as a single weapon even if it carries more than one.

David Wright, co-director of the global security program at the Union of Concerned Scientists, expressed dismay at Mr. Trump’s choice of Twitter to discuss nuclear weapons policy."
https://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/22/us/politics/trump-says-us-should-expand-its-nuclear-capability.html
--

All of President Trump's push for more weapons including nuclear ones is so CONTRARY to other statements by him about human life:

“In America, we know that faith and family, not government and bureaucracy, are the center of the American life. Our motto is "in God we trust."
--President Trump at the March for Life

"Under my administration, we will always defend the very first right in the Declaration of Independence, and that is the right to life."

Vice President Pence called Trump "the most pro-life president in American history."

Certainly not.

If in doubt read the actual accounts of horrific civilian deaths in past nuclear bombings including the eyes of children literally running down their ashed faces:-( And how so many non-military individuals including firefighters and doctors were turned, literally, to cinders.

1. For many years during my teaching of American literature-history, we covered most of the 8 views of human violence including the many cases of the actual slaughter of civilians. The use of nuclear weapons was one of the worst terrorist actions ever committed. Then there were the fire-bombing campaigns against Dresden, Hamburg, Tokyo, etc., also, some of the worst terrorist actions ever, also.

Of course, those slaughters weren't nearly as evil as the intentional murder of millions of civilians by the Nazis and the Communists.

2. Even if one could justify doing evil to obtain good, according to some scholars the atom bomb wasn't nearly the preventive that many think. And don't forget the wasted multi-billions spent on bombs instead of positive civilized actions--for the impoverished, the ill, for clean water, for education, enhancement, the arts, and so forth.

3. Furthermore, murdering any number of children, the elderly, doctors, patients, firefighters, etc. NOW
in order, hypothetically, to prevent the murder of future humans is one of the worst forms of ethics, very immoral, anti-humanistic.
DOWN-WRONG MASS MURDER!

This is exactly the sort of justifying of slaughter that many nations and political groups such as HAMAS and other Muslim organizations use in the Middle East.

They emphasize that they kill enemy civilians NOW to prevent civilians from being killed in the future.

When I lived in Palestine-Israel, Muslim soldiers came over the Jordan River a little over a mile away from us, attacked an apartment building, and shot down unarmed families:-(

Were those Muslims soldiers justified in fighting against the Israeli government? Yes.

Were they justified in intentionally shooting down Jewish civilians? NO.
--

This was the same sort of ethically wrong thinking that most Americans held about our warring in Vietnam, Nicaragua, El Salvador, etc. Kill and destroy to save and bring peace later!

4. Besides, General Dwight Eisenhower and some other major military leaders opposed the use of nuclear weapons.

And Senator Mark Hatfield, who as a young Navy man was one of the first Americans to observe the result of Little Boy:-(

Senator Hatfield, forever after, strongly opposed any sort of such slaughter. He was one of only 2 senators to oppose the Vietnam War. Read his article against such killing, and his 2 books about the importance of making wise moral choices.

Also, read Hiroshima by John Hersey which shows the obscenity of killing civilians, including all the kids whose eyes melted:-(

And the many who suffered radiation sickness to death.

#5 Many think, like President Trump, that creating more nuclear weapons keeps the peace, prevents war!

On the contrary, nuclear weapons don't stop a lot of war slaughter. Since WW ll, millions have been killed in numerous proxy wars.

The major powers just shoved the death down by proxy to places such as Laos, Cambodia, Latin America, and so forth.

It's true that the death toll hasn't been as horrible as WW ll. See Steven Pinker's brilliant tome on human violence: The Better Angels of Our Nature is a powerful study.

HOWEVER, those millions of humans killed in the recent minor wars are still dead, and still suffered horrifically before dying.

CONCLUSION:

The human species doesn't deserve to exist if it bases its existence on the killing of civilians including children.

In this I TOTALLY identify with the character in The Brothers Karamazov who said that the death of even ONE innocent child
wouldn't be worth it.

BUT what about Islamic regimes such as Iran who have no ethical conscience against slaughtering civilians?

I have no illusions about Muslim governments, secular or dictatorial or jihadist.

They would annihilate Israel and the U.S. if they could.

Heck, recently Muslim leaders praised a Muslim teen for murdering a 13-year-old Jewish girl in her bedroom.

Suddenly, this thug was hailed as a "martyr" and a Palestinian "hero" by HAMAS and Fatah. Something like 75% of Palestinians support the killing of civilians. Really!

I also stand against all the injustices and inequality that the Israeli government does.
I know their history, their killing, their land theft, and so forth.
--

But doesn't America's MADD protect against the worst of such wars?

It seems to me based on my own reading of many history books that increasing weapons NEVER reduces wars,
but only makes them horrifically worse, especially for families and the most vulnerable.

What mostly hindered the former Soviet Union from launching an horrendous war that would slaughter millions wasn't MADD
but that its leaders were cognizant--extremely so--
of the many millions of their loved ones they lost in WW ll.

They realized that ANY sort of overt war among the major powers would be horrific.

They, like the U.S., didn't want a major war, so both sides did minor wars by proxy. And the Soviet leaders in the 70's and 80's weren't as irrationally fanatical as earlier Soviet leaders such as Stalin, Lenin, and Trotsky.

Putin appears to be a very nationalistic Russian Orthodox Christian who doesn't seem to worry about civilians being killed.

And Trump also claims to be a Christian.

If so, it's, again, Christian leader against Christian leader engaging in murderous threats, creating weapons of Mass Slaughter in the name of God and their countries.

TO BE CONTINUED:


How tragic is "humanunkind'!

Daniel Wilcox

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Do Animals have Rights? Inherent Value?


Introduction: (Skip this if you want to get, quickly, to the article: To the QUESTION)


The whole issue of "animal rights" has been muddied and muddled by two events:
1. Controversial behavior and antics by some animal rights activists such as going naked in public to draw attention to the rights of animals, even committing theft and violent acts of sabotage!

An example of this is PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals). But rather oddly while they oppose zoos and circuses,
they contrarily assert that pet owners ought to NOT let their cats out-of-doors to roam and explore!

Doesn't that sound like the imprisonment of animals?

2. Looking at the last 30 years of this ethical and philosophical question, some thinkers first bring up a very strange disconcert. They seek to defend animals’ worth and rights by demeaning the human species!

In their effort to defend animal rights, they actually deny human rights!

Semantics. What they mean is that there are no real human rights. Thy claim that human rights are a "myth." Humans made them up, and therefore, animal rights can be constructed, too, because there is no qualitative difference between human primates and other animals in nature.

A few advocates even go so far as to say that an adult ape or other sentient animal is worth more than a human infant.
(See ethics professor Peter Singer's claims)

But what is the basis for such a strange assertion, so contrary to the Enlightenment?

Stating that some animals are allegedly “better” than some humans seems a weird way to establish the worth and rights of other animals.

Besides it’s disconcerting and contradictory since the animal rights thinkers themselves are human. Unless they have some sort of masochistic tendency, it appears that their attacks on the species of homo sapiens itself is rather a rhetorical way of gutting the “transcendent” and the "essential" in human thought.

So why do they, then, think that all animals ought to be assigned value? Unclear.

Even more bizarre—taking us far from what most humans mean by “rights,”—many religious and some secular leaders actually seem to have a real self-hatred of their own species, humankind! The Christian leaders claim that ALL humans are “totally depraved” and “worthless.” While secularists claim that the amoral natural world would actually be better without humans!

But one wonders why?!

In sharp contrast, other human philosophers and scientists think that the general movement in human thought and ethics toward viewing of all animals—at least all sentient animals—
as having inherent worth
has come about through the “widening of the circle of concern” by many human rights activists.

Maybe it’s the old historical oddity that some human leaders try to equalize humankind by reducing and lowering/restricting all humans to the same basic level,
while other leaders,
seek the advancement of humankind by advocating and helping humans to rise as high as they can achieve, and even bringing up sentient species who don't seem to have rational capability.

Part 1:

TO THE QUESTION


Aside from millions of humans’ emotional love of their pets, what is the basis for animal rights and value?


In scientist Steven Pinker’s powerful tome on violence, Better Angels of Our Nature, while he explains the new move toward animal rights, he writes that most humans will never become “vegetarian,” will never adopt animal rights.

“But the impediments run deeper than meat hunger. Many interactions between humans and animals will always be zero-sum.



Animals eat our houses, our crops, and occasionally our children...
They kill each other, including endangered species that we would like to keep around."



"Without their participation in experiments, medicine would be frozen in its current state and billions of living and unborn people would suffer and die for the sake of mice.”


“...Something in me objects to the image of a hunter shooting a moose, but why am I not upset by the image of a grizzly bear that renders it just as dead?” (p.474)
--Steven Pinker
-

In nature, did the moose have any “animal rights”?

Isn’t nature amoral, non-rightful, indeed, centered in natural selection, “tooth and claw”?

Where are there animal rights in the case of cats and mice, sharks and fish?

Lions, crocodiles and wildebeests?




"A fact about the wildebeest migration is that every year, about 1.5 million wildebeest, zebra and several species of antelope uniformly make a circular tour between the Serengeti in Tanzania and Maasai Mara in Kenya, in search of greener pastures.

You can witness the drama unfold as predators lurk in the bushes and prey scamper for safety in what has since been dubbed 'survival for the fittest'...The most notorious among the predators is the lion and the Nile crocodile.

The lion perfectly chooses its arena...shrouded in thick grass cover and gets a strategic hiding spot to attack unsuspecting wildebeest and zebras. During the peak of the migration, vultures circle the air and hyenas laugh in the shadows; an indication of the innumerable wildebeest and zebra that have fallen under the claw of the mighty African lion.

The Nile crocodile however takes the medal as the deadliest predator. It comes in at the climax of the Mara migration - the crossing of the Mara River! This avid killer shapes the events that take place during the crossing of the Mara River."
http://www.kenya-information-guide.com/wildebeest-migration.html

Or elephant male seal versus elephant male seal, bloodying their snouts, seeking dominance and multiple female seals?



It doesn't appear that cats or mice or crocodiles or elephant seals have a conscience,
a sense of ought,
a rational ability to think in moral categories.

For many thinkers, the central issue isn’t really about any actual “rights” of animals but about reducing the public suffering and cruelty to animals:
“In sixteenth-century Paris, a popular form of entertainment was cat-burning, in which a cat was hoisted in a sling on a stage and slowly lowered into a fire."

"According to historian Norman Davies, ‘the spectators, including kings and queens, shrieked with laughter as the animals, howling with pain, were singed, roasted, and finally carbonized.’ Today, such sadism would be unthinkable in most of the world.”

“This change in sensibilities is just one example of perhaps the most important and most underappreciated trend in the human saga: Violence has been in decline over long stretches of history, and today we are probably living in the most peaceful moment of our species’ time on earth.”
--Steven Pinker (p. 145)

But, of course, the central philosophical question then nags:
Why ought humans to reduce the public suffering and cruelty to animals,
especially,
if far more suffering and cruelty continues in the millions of slaughterhouses around the world that supply billions of slabs of meat for all carnivorous humans?

Are not these billions of meat-eaters, basically, assigning worth to their pet dogs and cats, but denying worth to all the pigs, chickens, cows, and sheep?

Where then are there any “animal rights”?

The evidence of history, nature, and science seems to deny the reality of animal rights.

WHAT DO YOU THINK?

After mulling on this difficult topic for years,
I'm currently at this place: Animals have inherent worth, BUT not Rights.

To be continued--


In the Light of difficult ethical questions,

Daniel Wilcox

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Beautiful Song: Steve Bell "Kindness"

Here's a beautiful song of KINDNESS,
one based in a Good News sort of spirituality
totally contrary
to the current nationalistic self-centered, name-calling,
anti-immigrants, pro-nuclear-arms
bad unethical Christianity:-(












In the Light of Kindness,

Daniel Wilcox

Monday, February 5, 2018

Stand for Taner Kilic! Please write the Government of Turkey


https://act.amnestyusa.org/page/19447/action/1

from the Amnesty International Website:
"The decision to renew the detention of Amnesty International’s Turkey Chair mere hours after a court ordered his release must be immediately reversed and Taner Kılıç set free, said Amnesty International."

“Over the last 24 hours we have borne witness to a travesty of justice of spectacular proportions. To have been granted release only to have the door to freedom so callously slammed in his face is devastating for Taner, his family and all who stand for justice in Turkey."
--AI Secretary General Salil Shetty

“This latest episode of his malicious detention has dashed the hopes of Taner and those of his wife and daughters who were waiting by the prison gates all day to welcome him into their arms.”

https://www.amnestyusa.org/press-releases/re-arrest-and-detention-of-amnesty-chair-hours-after-release-ordered-devastates-family-disgraces-justice/


“This is the latest example of the crisis in Turkey’s justice system that is ruining lives and hollowing out the right to a fair trial,” said Salil Shetty.

“By riding roughshod over justice and ignoring the overwhelming evidence of his innocence his re-detention only deepens our resolve to continue to fight on Taner’s case. One million voices have already called for his release. He should never have been arrested, and we will not rest until he is free.”

"The next court hearing has been set for June 21, 2018."




Stand for human rights! Support prisoners of conscience, especially Taner Kilic. Please write today!

Daniel Wilcox

Friday, February 2, 2018

It Is the Set of Our Sails...



You can’t learn to sail
if the weather is still.


Neither hurricane nor calm will provide a good life.
But the daily stresses and challenges, like the Trade Winds for so many sailors, give us the energy for which we can choose to set our course.




























In the Light of the Trade Winds:-),

Daniel Wilcox


Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Baptizing Cars and Us, (the Friendly Way)


A serendipity, an unplanned blessing, came one morning as I drove down Bradley Road. Very unexpectedly, as I had been struggling through a severe spiritual crisis, yet another pilgrim's regress.*

It's Saturday. I’ve run an errand, am headed for work. But then I see that hunched, elderly man, the one who stands on Bradley at a narrow crossroad, his thumb out, hitchhiking most days of the week.

I never stop because traffic here is bad, very heavy and there is no side lane, and, besides, there are miles to go before I rest. I haven't earned enough money, self-employed.

But today, incredibly, no cars are crowding my back-bumper, so I go with my alert conscience and concern, and stop for the oldster.

Swarthy, leather-skinned, in old wrinkled clothes, he almost looks homeless, and is hunched over as if someone has curled his spine; his one gnarled hand holds a small trash bag, maybe his lunch.

Gingerly, he climbs into my Sienna and thanks me.

But I can hardly understand what else he is saying because he speaks with a heavy Spanish accent and has a serious voice impediment. He sits there bent forward, his face weathered, like dark brown parchment.

But finally, I figure out he has 13 grandkids and his wife died from cancer 18 months ago and
that he works at a carwash
and is 82 years old!

We commune, even though it is hard to understand most of his rumpled words.

My heavy load of grief lightens.

I leave him off near his work where he baptizes cars with water Baptist-style.

But even though we speak no religious language and Friends don't practice rituals such as baptism and communion,
the hitchhiker and I live in a precious moment,
a present meeting,
a transcendent baptism
in the Light.

In the Light,
Daniel Wilcox

*(Does a person's spiritual journey ever reach the proverbial mountain top? Or at least a little peaceful oasis in the barren desert of ached spiritual longing?)

Friday, January 26, 2018

The Lady in Our Garden

The Lady in Our Garden

A picture-post-card date near the swirling
Serpentine sway of the wide Schuylkill River
Meandering through Central Philly's park garden,
Towered over by leaning elms, while 3 long canoes
Swift by to the paddling of Ivy League collegians.
Gazing at my dear companion in our garden

My Friendly girl, Karen, chestnut-caped round
In waist-length hair like a swaying black ephod,
Vivid in her red chambray shirt and blue jeans,
Is an aspiring concert violinist but converses
Passionately of King's March to D.C. in 3 months.
Listening to my dear companion in the garden

I, the principled drafted objector, work for Uncle Sam
With forsaken kids confined to sterile mental wards
Disturbed by parents' wrong living, but still am
So youthfully focused on my beautiful girlfriend’s
Figured shape than humanity’s ship of state.
Desiring my dear companion in our garden

We sit cross-legged on a wide lush parkway green,
Getting ready to eat our carefully bagged meal
Of 2 peanut butter and grape sandwiches
As we discuss war’s ravages in far-off Nam
And Bob Dylan's 'hard rained' croons.
Loving my dear companion in the garden

But then I inhale a fuming putrid odor;
Twist my neck and see this bagged lady in a filthy rag
Of a dress lunging slowly forward, hanging
Onto her ugly mesh of a shopping bag, her rancid
Stench to high heaven wafts and I pinch my nose.
Focusing instead on my companion in our garden

But lo and hold it! my violinist instead rises
And welcomes that old hag, “Hi Lady, will you join us
For our delicious Sunday snack here in the warm sun?”
The homeless alien sprawls haggardly on our grass,
Her wretched, spotted, shift wrinkling on her scraggly legs.
Karen gazes at this unknown companion in the garden

I am all upside-down in my face as this invader,
This illegal, reaches out a grubby, dirty hand,
Grabs one of our 2 sandwiches, and half crams
It in her narrow jaws, chews open-mouthed and teethed,
Me fuming at this chomping ugly interloper.
Separating my dear companion in our garden

But then awake, remembering almost too late,
The very old story about the least of these, turn,
And finally join my dear musician's psalm,
We a communing 3 of human kind,
Under those verdant swaying trees of compassion.
Sharing, so dear companions in our Garden


--Daniel Wilcox

First pub. in The Oak Bend Review
in different form;
in selah river, a collection of Daniel's
published poetry.



In the Light of Sharing,

Daniel Wilcox

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Pro-birth versus Pro-Life


"...your morality is deeply lacking if all you want is a child born but not a child fed, not a child educated, not a child housed."

“And why would I think that you don’t? Because you don’t want any tax money to go there. That’s not pro-life. That’s pro-birth.
We need a much broader conversation on what the morality of pro-life is.”

“I do not believe that just because you’re opposed to abortion, that that makes you pro-life."

"In fact, I think in many cases, your morality is deeply lacking if all you want is a child born but not a child fed, not a child educated, not a child housed."
--R.C. nun Joan Chittister







We need to be completely pro-life,

Daniel Wilcox

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Widening Our Circle of Concern: Vegetarianism



"Pigs by nature are every bit as loving, sensitive, and full of personality as the animals we call "family."

"Pigs dream, recognize their names, and are gregarious and affectionate being who form loyal bonds with each other and other species including humans."
--

If so, why do millions of American citizens sit down to fancy feasts of ham, pork, sausage, and bacon, especially at Thanksgiving and other holy days?

Sometimes these pork-barrel* times include their deeply loved pet dogs in attendance, waiting impatiently for any pig scraps to gobble up.
("Chester Collins Maxey in the National Municipal Review...
claimed that the phrase originated in a pre-Civil War practice of giving slaves a barrel of salt pork as a reward and requiring them to compete among themselves to get their share of the handout.")
from wikepedia

YET, "the curious and insightful pig is the smartest domestic animal in the world, with intelligence beyond that of a 3-year-old human child."

"In their natural setting, pigs spend hours playing, mother pigs sing to their piglets while nursing, and groups of pigs enjoy lying close together in the sun."
--from vegetarian poster

Consider these startling facts from scientists:
from "Pigheaded: How Smart are Swine?"
By Andy Wright
"Candace Croney is an Associate Professor of Animal Sciences at Purdue University and once taught pigs to play video games...
she participated in a study that set pigs to a task that previously only Rhesus monkeys and chimpanzees had been asked to perform."


"The pigs were provided with specially made joysticks that they could control with their mouths or snouts and then tasked with the job of moving a cursor around on the screen to make contact with different target walls that would shrink and move away."

"Croney did not think the pigs would be able to do it. But they could..."they’re really very fast learners... learn novel things quite quickly and quite well.”

"She soon set her pigs to other tasks...They were given odor quizzes, correctly picking out, say, spearmint, from an array of other smells that included mint and peppermint."

"Some studies have shown that scent is so important to a pig that if you cover up a part of a pigs’ cheek, they have trouble recognizing each other because that is where they emit a certain pheromone."

"Croney says the pigs were extremely clean, that they housebroke themselves and that at the end of a play session they put their own toys away in a big tub."

"Pigs are social, they remember locations well, they remember negative and positive experiences, can tell the difference between individual pigs and humans, recognize themselves in mirrors and learn from other pigs," says Dunipace.

"Kristina Horback, an ethologist (a person who observes animals in their natural habitat): “The social structure of pigs is just like elephants, they have the increased prefrontal cortex like primates and humans because they eat meat and they have the need to hunt and forage."
from "Pigheaded: How Smart are Swine?"
By Andy Wright
READ the whole insightful article at Modern Farmer:
https://modernfarmer.com/2014/03/pigheaded-smart-swine/
--

Of course, for those of us who are moving toward vegetarianism, who have long ago quit pork and beef, but who still eat salmon, cod, and shrimp-- and sometimes fowl food at family meals to be courteous--for us in transition toward non-face food, there is this problem:
"Seth Dunipace, a veterinarian and post-doctoral fellow at University of Pennslyvania...thinks we should be asking ourselves why we care how smart a pig is. “I don’t think that’s necessarily fair because they’re using intelligence as a stand-in for suffering."


“And its this kind of thought that allows us to eat fish, and fish suffocate to death or bleed out over a course of thirty minutes, but a cow or pig must be rendered instantaneously insensible at slaughter. It’s a double standard."

"And fish do feel pain, fish do have memory. But we just don’t think of them as intelligent. And intelligence, I don’t think, should factor in to how greatly an animal can suffer.”

Hmm...we need to work toward a world of a widening circle of deep ethical concern, but keep in mind that we are all on this life voyage at different places.

Hopefully, we will live deeper and deeper into ethical truths,

Daniel Wilcox


Tuesday, January 16, 2018

How Do We Discern the True Nature of Reality--the LIGHT, from what's false: myth, illusion, and superstition?


As I still seek to advance more toward the Light,
despite my own aged physical receding,
(soon to be deader than a doorstopper), how do I and billions of other human
primates deal with the mysterious, conundrumed central questions of our existence?

1. What new ethical insights ought we to be seeking, and hopefully, finding, like our forebears
before us who discovered the truths of equality, human rights, peacemaking, and transcendence?

2. How do we counter the current false human narratives, life-stances, and worldviews which cause so much havoc, intolerance, anguish, suffering,
and destruction?

3. How do we discern what is true versus what is illusion and superstition in ultimate matters, when we can't prove "OUGHTs"?

For instance, how can we witness to human worth?

Hard secularists claim there is so much evidence from biology, neuroscience, and physics that
human choice,
moral responsibility,
creativity,
even human consciousness are ALL illusions/delusions.

According to them only atoms locked-into-a-hard-fated cosmos exist. NOTHING else.


4. If every human truly has inherent value, why is it that so many billions of humans deny this in their reasoning, or their daily behavior?

5. How are Friends (and other transcendentalists and moral realists) different from humanists who appear to claim that all humans do have "inherent worth" YET at the same time claim that only matter and energy exist?

Human Manifesto III: "We are committed to treating each person as having inherent worth and dignity, and to making informed choices in a context of freedom consonant with responsibility."

Is this a semantic problem or are they being contradictory?

6. Do we ourselves have contradictions within our own life-stance?

7. This day are we moment by moment working in each relationship to truly relate as that the other person has "inherent value' within her/himself?



In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox


How Do We Speak Truth to Power Without Getting Caught in the Binary Wrangle?


"It ain't easy," to paraphrase Mark Twain.


For instance, take a look at the AFSC's stand which got it banned this week from entering Israel-Palestine, by the Netanyahu government.

What do truth-peace-and-justice seekers do when a nation-state such as Israel flouts International Law, continues to build thousands of houses on stolen Palestinian land, tears down orchards and destroys Palestinian buildings, etc.
while at the same time the leaders of Palestine such as Fatah and HAMAS continue to praise murderers as "martyrs" and heroes and deny human rights to people simply because they are Jewish?

"Specifically, AFSC affirms the right of both Israelis and Palestinians to live as sovereign peoples in their own homeland, a right that encompasses the possibility of choosing two separate states...Both parties should be guided by an ethic of reciprocity: what holds true for one side in a conflict should hold true for the other as well."
https://www.afsc.org/story/principles-just-and-lasting-peace-between-palestinians-and-israelis

1. BUT there is the seemingly insurmountable difficulty. In this particular tragedy of injustice, it's not one of nonviolent King Blacks opposing violent KKK,
but
of Netanyahu violent settlers versus violent HAMAS-Fatah jihadists.

When both sides are led by KKK-Black Panther types, extreme true believers in the very bad sense of the Eric Hoffer term (from his powerful analysis, The True Believer), HOW DOES anyone concerned with truth and justice go about
being a witness to both warring sides?

"Specifically, AFSC affirms the right of both Israelis and Palestinians to live as sovereign peoples in their own homeland, a right that encompasses the possibility of choosing two separate states...Both parties should be guided by an ethic of reciprocity: what holds true for one side in a conflict should hold true for the other as well."

2. Besides AFSC's overt methods against the unjust government of Israel such as BDS: "AFSC spokesperson Kerri Kennedy: 'We answered the call for divestment from apartheid South Africa and we have done the same with the call for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions from Palestinians who have faced decades of human rights violations.'"
-- what can concerned people do in the way of overt methods against the terror government of Palestine for supporting, arming, and praising the slaughter of innocent civilians?

3. Another way toward speaking truth to power is that of active listening to both wrong opposing sides. Consider the way of Quaker Gene Hoffman: "She has engaged in efforts to seek out the deep, psychological causes of violence and to help bring about healing and reconciliation through a process she calls “Compassionate Listening.”

Though, of course, "compassionate listening" is no quick fix. Gene went to Libya in 1989, yet Libya, if anything, is worse off now as a country even than 30 years ago:-(

Gene listened to both Palestinians and Israelis extensively and published books such as Pieces of the Mideast Puzzle (1991).

Gene has a "Masters in pastoral counseling from Goddard College and worked with Ben Weininger, a “Zen-Hasidic” Rogerian psychiatrist. With her background in counseling, Gene came to see all parties in a conflict as “wounded,” as having suffered psychological traumas that need healing."

“The call, as I see it, is for us to see that within all life is the mystery: God. It is within...the Israeli, the Palestinian, and the American. By compassionate listening we may awaken it and thus learn the partial truth the other is carrying, for another aspect of being human is that we each carry some portion of the truth. To reconcile, we must listen for, discern, and acknowledge this partial truth in everyone.”
http://www.compassionatelistening.org/store/books/2918/compassionate-listening-and-other-writings-2

YET, at present, Israelis and Palestinians seem much farther apart than ever, each claiming they have the whole truth, and the only truth.
--

When I lived in Palestine-Israel in 1974, I listened attentively to both sides of the conflict, amazed and disconcerted at how the people on each of the opposite sides could be so compassionate, sincere, kind, generous, and moral,
YET
justify the injustice, intolerance, theft, and killing of those on the other side!

And it's only gotten much worse in the many years since! Despite endless efforts by well-meaning peace-workers to try and bridge the hostile chasm.

Only when both the Israeli settlers and the Palestinian jihadists are willing to widen their circle of care and concern beyond their own religions/ideologies
will there be hope.

4. AFSC wrote, "All people, including Palestinians, have a right to live in safety and peace and have their human rights respected. For 51 years, Israel has denied Palestinians in the occupied territories their fundamental human rights, in defiance of international law. While Israeli Jews enjoy full civil and political rights, prosperity, and relative security, Palestinians under Israeli control enjoy few or none of those rights or privileges.

It's true that at base, Israel is a reverse-racist society and government, BUT tragically, so is Palestine!

And some of the Israeli injustices such as the immoral wall that Israel has built came about because of horrific terror attacks by Palestinians funded and supported by the Palestinian leaders!

from the AFSC site:
"Quakers pioneered the use of boycotts when they helped lead the “Free Produce Movement,” a boycott of goods produced using slave labor during the 1800s. AFSC has a long history of supporting economic activism, which we view as an appeal to conscience, aimed at raising awareness among those complicit in harmful practices, and as an effective tactic for removing structural support for oppression."

"The AFSC, like the other organizations on Israel’s odious list, knows that peace can only come to this land when the essential injustice that occurred 70 years ago is justly addressed, and when the human rights of all are recognized and respected."
Brant Rosen
Brant Rosen is AFSC’s Midwest Regional Director and formerly "a congregational rabbi for over 20 years. He is the co-founder and co-chair of the Jewish Voice for Peace Rabbinical Council and the founder, with Rabbi Brian Walt, of the Jewish Fast for Gaza. Author of Wresting in the Daylight: A Rabbi’s Path to Palestinian Solidarity, Just World Books, 2012
https://www.afsc.org/blogs/acting-in-faith/quakers-jews-and-israel%E2%80%99s-bds-blacklist

"AFSC, in its support for peacemaking, has sought reconciliation between antagonists, endeavoring to help create the conditions of genuine peace that are based upon the preservation of basic human rights and the restoration of justice. In its role as peacemaker as well as peace builder, AFSC has operated from a nonviolent ethic of care that acknowledges and embraces the humanity on all sides of those in conflict."

"The Middle East policy of the United States and most of the rest of the Western world, as well as the policy of the Israelis and Palestinians, has for too long accepted the myth that only violence and the threat of violence can produce stability and create peace. The reality is that violence has not brought peace, and the threat of violence has only exacerbated the conflicts."
https://www.afsc.org/story/principles-just-and-lasting-peace-between-palestinians-and-israelis

WHAT MORE THOUGH CAN WE DO without siding with either the unjust Israeli government or the terror-based Palestinian government?


In the difficult Light of working for the Good, the Just, and the True,

Daniel Wilcox

Saturday, January 13, 2018

More Songs Reflection


Highly recommended for those who like romantic lyrics with whimsy and creativity:
Thomas Rhett wrote a very romantic love song for his wife.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w2CELiObPeQ

by Thomas Rhett / Sean Douglas / Jon London

Die a Happy Man

Baby, last night was hands down
One of the best nights
That I've had no doubt
Between the bottle of wine
And the look in your eyes and the Marvin Gaye
Then we danced in the dark under September stars in the pourin' rain

And I know that I can't ever tell you enough
That all I need in this life is your crazy love
If I never get to see the Northern lights
Or if I never get to see the Eiffel Tower at night
Oh, if all I got is your hand in my hand
Baby, I could die a happy man

Happy man, baby
Mmm

Baby, that red dress brings me to my knees
Oh, but that black dress makes it hard to breathe
You're a saint, you're a Goddess,
The cutest, the hottest,
A masterpiece
It's too good to be true,
Nothing better than you
In my wildest dreams

And I know that I can't ever tell you enough
That all I need in this life is your crazy love

If I never get to see the Northern lights
Or if I never get to see the Eiffel Tower at night
Oh, if all I got is your hand in my hand
Baby, I could die a happy man, yeah

I don't need no vacation,
No fancy destination
Baby, you're my great escape
We could stay at home,
Listen to the radio
Or dance around the fireplace

And if I never get to build my mansion in Georgia
Or drive a sports car up the coast of California
Oh, if all I got is your hand in my hand
Baby, I could die a happy man

Baby, I could die a happy man
Oh, I could die a happy man
You know I could girl
I could die, I could die a happy man
--

I especially like the verses,
"If I never get to see the Northern lights
Or if I never get to see the Eiffel Tower at night
Oh, if all I got is your hand in my hand
Baby, I could die a happy man"

There are a few concerns such as calling his wife a 'girl." Yes, I know that is a traditional characteristic of popular music (like the never ending "baby,") but one wonders if songwriters will ever get around to writing about a "woman" instead of the ever-sung 'girl' as if every relationship is about junior high infatuation.

And, while my youthful inner self still personally likes vivid visual
images such as "Baby, that red dress brings me to my knees
Oh, but that black dress makes it hard to breathe
You're a saint, you're a Goddess...,"
it would be good to sometimes see references in song lyrics to a woman's personality, accomplishments, and spiritual-ethical concerns.
--

HOWEVER, several of the other songs Rhett sings lack in creativity and ethics. Sadly, like many popular ones, some of the lyrics are negligent, unethical, and almost gross:

from "Craving You"

When it comes to you, no, I ain't got no patience
There's something 'bout you girl I just can't fight
You're like that cigarette
That shot of 100 proof
No matter how much I get
I'm always craving
That feeling when we kiss
The way your body moves
No matter how much I get
I'm always craving you
Craving you...

A girl that the guy 'loves' is like a "cigarette," like nicotine....Good grief!

Well, at least Thomas Rhett didn't write those rather ethically sick lyrics. While he sang them--bad enough--it was the strange songwriters, Julian Bunetta / Dave Barnes, who wrote the cigarette simile.

Then there is "Get Me Some of That":

You're shakin' that money maker,
Like a heart breaker, like your college major was
Twistin' and tearin' up Friday nights
Love the way you're wearin' those jeans so tight (so tight)
I bet your kiss is a soul saver,
My favorite flavor, want it now and later
I never seen nothin' that I wanted so bad
Girl, I gotta get me, gotta get me some of that
I gotta get me some of that
Yeah, I gotta get me some of that
Oh girl, I gotta get me some of that

by Akins Rhett / Cole Swindell / Michael Carter who wrote--"gotta get me some of that" and "want it"--and compares her to a 'pay-cash-for-butt' stripper.

Back when I taught poetry for years, I let students bring in their favorite song lyrics on posters to put up on the walls of the classroom. Some of them were amazingly creative, at times deeply moral, even spiritual.

But like these last two losers, a few lyrics just crossed the line into the sewer. Tragic that so many young people and adults memorize such lyrics, singing them over and over.

For instance, one girl student said she loved this one rap song which crowed about the rapper hitting his girlfriend without regret!

Thankfully, there is plenty of contrary music which brings beauty, understanding, care, and joy to humans.

What song lyrics do you especially like and why?


Despite the Darkness, the Light Still Shines,

Daniel Wilcox





Part 3: Why Israel and Palestine Have Failed



As I explained in Part 1, there is no easy solution to this many-thousand'd-year-old dilemma. Surely, the folly and tragedy of inhumane history, especially, the last two hundred years of failed diplomacy, war, and genocidal hatred must caution us against quick or even slow solutions to very complex situations.

How does one even begin to deal with Israeli settlers or Palestinian HAMAS—both who claim the Ultimate Reality of the Universe is exclusively on their own side, that their opposing Gods call them to kill their enemies?

How does one get two diametrically opposed killing nationalities to reconcile?

What would we do if our enemies played soccer with the decapitated head of our son, as did Palestinians with an Israeli soldier’s head in 2004 in Gaza?”!

What would we do if we were caring doctors, but while we helped the women of our enemies, they dropped large shells on our house and killed 4 of our daughters as did an Israeli tank in 2008 (I Shall Not Hate: A Gaza’s Doctor on the Road to Peace and Human Dignity by Izzeldin Abuelaish)?

To be utterly honest, even given my ethical commitments, I don’t think I could handle such horrible actions by avowed enemies. How could I seek to care for the family of the Muslim “martyr” and “hero” who snuck into our 13-year-old daughter’s bedroom and knifed her to death?!!!

Only a minority of human leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr. and Bayard Rustin seem capable of having such a deep centering in benevolence and nonviolence that they can show caring to killers. MLK did for KKK members and other Southern racists, even though they supported bombings which killed 4 young girls, even though they fired-bombed King’s house, endangering his own family.

At present, I find it difficult to deal with several people who lied about me. I’ve sought to forgive them, but these individuals’ actions deeply harmed myself and my family, and had very bad results for years.

I admit, though I am writing this article in hope it will be one tiny blossom for peace in the Middle East, I, myself, wouldn’t know how to handle what Israelis and Palestinians go through daily—the oppression, the lying, the stealing, the cruel actions, the killing, and worst of all, the justifications for the killings...


Also, keep in mind, very ironically, that many Palestinians and Israelis are actually closer to each other than they are to their own ethnic/national governments. Did anyone see the video of Palestinian Fatah members who had their kneecaps/legs shot off by their “brothers” of HAMAS when the latter attacked them in Gaza?

The wounded Fatah members got medical attention, strangely enough, in an Israeli hospital!

And don’t forget the tragic story of the Palestinian gynecologist who helped treat Israeli women for infertility but lost 3 of his daughters, killed by Israeli soldiers!

Or what about the Israelis who agree to meet in equality with Palestinians in reconciliation groups such as the grieving parents organization, Parents Circle—Families Forum, and Musalaha, who share more in common with their “enemies” than with the Israeli government of Netanyahu?

What about the Palestinian Elias Chacour (the author of Blood Brothers and We Belong to the Land) who has founded schools for hundreds of children and teens? The schools include Muslims, Druze, Christians, and Jews all working together!

Or consider the extreme commitment to ethics, sharing, and peace of Combatants for Peace, former warriors on both the Israeli side versus the Palestinian side, who now are working together for peace and justice.

The solution of the unending crisis has been tried by at least 8 methods in the past.

What about #6 Diplomacy? We have seen over the last 50 years, political diplomacy, even at its best, is usually little more than a smoke screen for furthering one’s own national agenda. While the Israelis claim to be seeking reconciliation with Palestinians, they continue to confiscate land from Palestinians, siphon off far more than their share of water, water needed much more by the Palestinian Arabs, abuse and demean the latter, etc.

Netanyahu's goverment even destroyed a school built by Scandinavians for Palestinian children and bulldozed a orchard planted by a Palestinian family who owned their land in 1904, long before most Jewish people came from Europe and the U.S.

And while Palestinians claim they want peace with Israel, they actually continue to stock arms, and tell their own people, teach their children in their schools, that they plan for the eventual extinction of Israel. Their diplomacy is only a mask of their real intentions.

As for #7 Legal Claim, surely anyone who has dealt at all with the convoluted legal system in the United States, knows this method is by far the worst of the eight efforts at peacemaking, for trying to solve the tragedy of the Middle East.

Legality seldom if ever has to do with what is ethically good, loving, and kind.

If you think #3 Present Possession is the key, are you prepared to give up your car to the thief who stole it last week because he is now driving it?

If Chumash Indians take over your house, force you and your family off your property, claiming their ancestors lived on your land, are you prepared to accept their present possession?

Present possession for the most part is only the poisonous frosting on the cake of #4 Military Might.

The latter--Military Might is, of course, the most popular and the most successful of land decisions. If in doubt ask the Indians why they don’t control California? Or the Mexican Government?

Or why the Saudis, one of the most oppressive governments in the world, is still in power after nearly a hundred years. It’s called survival of the fittest, governments being the meanest, cruelest…

But I presume if you have come to this site, which has the longwinded name, Infinite Ocean of Light and Love, you are not among the multi-millions of humans who believe in revenge and survival of the fittest, that you don’t espouse stomping out your enemies and so do not want to hear a defense of that method. There are endless pro-military, pro-war websites and books for those who do.

Does anyone think #5 Best Use is ethically sound?

Strangely enough, many Israelis claim they get all of the land because they are better builders, farmers, scientists, etc. than Palestinians. But no doubt you know what infamous political group in the twentieth century actually espoused this doctrine before the Israelis.

It’s very strange that Jewish people would dare touch this view let alone strongly support it.

Now we come to the three best methods, but they, too, are fraught with severe problems...


TO BE CONTINUED--



In the Light of Peace, Justice, and SHARING,

Daniel Wilcox