Tuesday, April 17, 2018
For 7 years, at least 10 nations have been warring in the killing fields of Syria, each side claiming to be the just and good, and that their bombing, shooting, and destruction are necessary in order to bring peace!
Because of these warring nations over 460,000 humans have been slaughtered, untold millions wounded, over 11 million displaced from their homes. Think of that--over 11 million individuals; over 6 million have become refugees in other parts of Syria, and over 5 million have become refugees in other countries.
Almost 70 % of the population of the nation is in extreme poverty.
What is the answer to all of this?
According to the U.S. government for the last several years, it has been to bomb more, shoot more missiles, send more special forces troops, give more weapons and money to Islamic rebels, etc.
And now since there is some evidence that Bashar Hafez al-Assad, the leader of Syria, dropped chlorine gas on fanatical rebels to force them out of their hiding places in cities on the edge of his capital, the U.S. President calls President Assad an "animal," and bombs again Syria, again.
A few months ago, the U.S. "accidentally" bombed civilians, too, BUT of course we aren't "animals."
The folly and absurdity of war.
HOWEVER IN THE MIDST OF THESE KILLING FIELDS, SOME HUMANS ARE BRINGING HOPE:
MCC of the U.S. and Canada are providing food for impoverished Syrians through the Syrian Orthodox Church in Homs, Syria, in Allepo, and elsewhere. "Young adults with the Charity Society for Sustainable Development in Damascus are responding to the needs of displaced families and other vulnerable people."
"If MCC's partners in Syria are not growing weary of doing good, how can we?"
from A Common Place magazine, J. Ron Byler
World Vision is also involved in helping the refugees.
Rami, 3 years old, WV photo by Jon Warren
Key points on this new killing field and horrific debacle in the Middle East:
"So the dance goes on. Everyone pretends to have the moral high ground when no one actually does. Everyone pretends to want peace when no one does, while threatening war, which no one wants."
from "Let’s All Do the Cruise Missile Mambo
APRIL 15, 2018 BY ED BRAYTON
"If it was really about saving Syrians from the government killing them, why is the focus only on chemical weapons? A few thousand people have been killed by chemical weapons in that civil war, while hundreds of thousands have been killed by conventional weaponry and we’ve raised not a peep of protest."
"In fact, it was only a few days ago that Trump was saying we were pulling out, leaving the rebels at the mercy of Assad. And if he actually gave a damn about Syrian victims, he would admit them as refugees to this country..."
"Russia and Iran: They both get to pretend to be outraged by this unprecedented attack on Syrian sovereignty when neither one has ever given a damn about sovereignty when it suits their interests (just like us, of course). But in truth, they’re both thrilled that we only bombed a few facilities with almost no one in them."
"Russia is backing Assad because they are not willing to give up their warm water naval base there. Iran is backing Assad because of their business dealings and religious affiliation with him. Neither is going to withdraw that support and we know that. And we aren’t willing, nor should we be willing, to go to war over it and make them leave...So it’s all a big standoff where we all pretend to want to fix it but know we can’t."
"So the dance goes on. Everyone pretends to have the moral high ground when no one actually does. Everyone pretends to want peace when no one does, while threatening war, which no one wants. And Americans still need to figure out that we can’t just snap our fingers and make the world the way we want. And when we try to do that, the result is usually a disaster...We don’t need to participate in this dance at all."
by Ed Brayton
Read the rest of the article at:
Please write your congressperson to advocate for refugees, and to oppose U.S. money and weapons going to the killing fields. Especially oppose their being given to Islamic rebels.
And donate money to help these precious people of Syria.
Shine the Light Against the Darkness of 10 nations Destroying in the name of Justice.
Monday, April 16, 2018
Follow the LIGHT
1. Cherish the Good, the True, and the Just with all of your emotion, all of your intellect and reasoning, and all of your strength.
2. Never make some finite thing or idea or group a central ought and duty for which you harm others.
3. Be courteous and respectful in your words and thoughts. Don’t ridicule or profane what is of value and worth.
4. Take at least one day and evening a week for mindfulness, recreation, and reflection.
5. Show caring and concern for the elderly, including your own parents.
6. Protect and esteem others. Don’t kill or do violence to them in thought, word, or deed.
7. Commit to one other person for life, in an ultimate sense through intellectual, emotional, and physical union. Be steadfast and loyal.
8. Show generosity; share with other humans in need; don’t take what belongs to others.
9. Speak the truth always in caring and altruism. Be honest and forthright.
10. Simplify; be content with what is good, necessary, and enjoyable; don’t fixate on and long for what others have.
And another commandment: Care for all other humans as much as yourself including those different from you and even your enemies.
And care for other sentient creatures.
--a theistic humanistic version of Jewish ethical commandments in modern language
In the Light,
from Freedom Fighter
A slaving society and an abolitionist’s crusade
by Alexis Okeowo
Photograph by Emiliano Granado
"Biram Dah Abeid is from the country’s traditional slave caste, the Haratin.
Two springs ago, Biram Dah Abeid arrived home in Nouakchott, the desert capital of Mauritania. At the airport, he was welcomed by hundreds of supporters, along with his wife and children.
Abeid, the founder of the Initiative for the Resurgence of the Abolitionist Movement, is the most prominent antislavery activist in Mauritania, which is said to have the highest incidence of slavery in the world. It was Friday, the holiest day of the week, and Abeid, returning from a trip to Berlin and Dakar, was enraged. Recently, he had helped force the government to put a slave owner in prison, and he had learned that the man was released after less than two months.
In 1981, Mauritania became the last country in the world to abolish slavery, while making no provision for punishing slave owners. In 2007, under international pressure, it passed a law that allowed slaveholders to be prosecuted. Yet slavery persists there... even as the government and religious leaders deny it.
Although definitive numbers are difficult to find, the Global Slavery Index estimates that at least 140,000 people are enslaved in Mauritania, out of a population of 3.8 million. Bruce Hall, a professor of African history at Duke University, said that people endure slavelike conditions in other countries in the region, but that the problem in Mauritania is unusually severe:
“Some proximate form of slavery has continued to be a foundation of the social structure and the division of labor within households, so there are many more people who are willing to support it as an institution.”
While Abeid was travelling, a well-known imam had given a televised interview. A journalist asked whether slavery existed in Mauritania, and the imam said no. Then why, the journalist asked, had the imam recently given the journalist’s boss a slave girl as a gift? The imam simply smiled.
Mauritania is an avowedly Muslim country...Imams who defend slavery often refer to a set of interpretive texts that date back as far as the eighth century. One prominent example is a mukhtasar, or handbook of Islamic law, written by the fourteenth-century Egyptian scholar Khalil ibn Ishaq. According to its precepts, a slave cannot marry without her master’s permission, nor does she have any right to her children...
At Abeid’s public prayer...An imam spoke against slavery and inequity. Another man called for a Haiti-style slave revolt.
As they spoke, a plainclothes policeman jumped up and shouted, “Allahu Akbar! What you are saying is wrong!”
One of Abeid’s bodyguards dropped the [Islamic] books into a cardboard box and doused them in lighter fluid. The crowd was on its feet, peering at the spectacle. No one had expected this. Defacing the holy books of Islam is a crime of apostasy, punishable by death. Abeid set the books on fire."
Abeid: “These books justify selling people, they justify raping people,” he said. “We will purify the religion, the faith, and the hearts of Mauritanians.” He held up a red hardcover with intricate embossing. “What the Prophet says was hidden by these books, which are not real words from God,” he said. “These old books give a bad image of Islam. We have no choice but to take this step.”
By eight o’clock on the evening of the book burning, local news Web sites had begun calling Abeid a heretic. “When I went to bed, I was satisfied,” he told me. “But I had a feeling something would happen tomorrow. When I woke up, it was a war—in the media, in the mosques.” Newspapers were calling for his death.
President Aziz appeared onscreen and promised to administer the death penalty."
By Alexis Okeowo
READ the rest of this powerful ethical article by Alexis Okeowo at:
Work for Human Rights, Equality, and Justice,
Wednesday, April 11, 2018
Remember this heart-warming news photo of a Black boy named Devonte hugging and being hugged by an Oregon police officer during these troubling, divisive, demeaning times?
In the midst of tragedy and loss and despair, came contrary acts and words of loving hope.
His adoptive parent Jennifer Hart:
“We are all ripples. There is no such thing as a small act of kindness. What may be small or simple to you, might mean the world to someone else. In some cases, these simple acts of touch the lives of countless people, often times in ways we can never fully grasp. Our family is still riding waves of the aftermath of Devonte’s hug.”
Jennifer: “My son has a heart of gold, compassion beyond anything I’ve ever experienced, yet struggles with living fearlessly when it comes to the police. … He wonders if someday when he no longer wears a `Free Hugs’ sign around his neck, when he’s a full-grown black male, if his life will be in danger for simply being.”
ONLY ONE MONTH AGO, Jennifer wrote: And “9 years ago, the adoption of these three humans was finalized. ‘Finalized’ the terminology seems so unfitting for the situation. It was just the beginning. A new beginning of an expansion of my(our) understanding of love. I am a better human in every possible way for knowing these children. They have been my greatest teachers. Contrary to the common notion that we can’t choose our family, we absolutely can. We choose by loving – and that’s worth celebrating every damn day.”
Friends called Jen and Sarah “Hart Attacks” because of how loving they were.
YET 2 WEEKS AGO, IT APPEARS THAT JENNIFER INTENTIONALLY MURDERED HER ADOPTED SON DEVONTE, HER SPOUSE OF 18 YEARS, AND THEIR OTHER 5 TEENS!
After receiving a knock on the door from Children’s Protective Services which she didn’t answer, she and Sarah loaded their teens in their car and drove off down through Oregon to the California coast of Mendocino; then suddenly Jennifer stopped at a pull-out, started again, and drove very fast off a 100 foot cliff!:-(((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((
The horrific tragedy of hope.
How could this possibly have occurred?
Could all of the “HOPE,” social activism, and funny photos by Jennifer and Sarah have all have been a sham, covering a ruthless sociopathology?
Could all of the seeming joy, hope, and fun for these formerly abused, neglected kids have been real, but because the kids often acted out and misbehaved, (how abused children often do) then Jennifer lashed out, abused?
I used to be a child care worker at a hospital for emotionally disturbed children, and taught at-risk teens for many years.
It take a HUGE amount of time, and unending patience to help children and teens from dysfunctional, drug-infested, abusive backgrounds.
MAYBE the documented cases of abuse by the Hartss--of hard spanking, food withdrawal, etc. were done by Jennifer (and maybe Sarah) because they—like most dysfunctional parents, despite their care for their kids--didn’t have the patience, fortitude, and professional distance to deal with 6 misbehaving kids and teens!
Heck, I remember medical staff at the children's mental hospital who sometimes “LOST IT,” (not hitting, but definitely angrily losing their temper and using the isolation room as punishment, rather than hopeful help).
BUT that still wouldn't explain why Hart decided to murder the kids she claimed to love. Also, why did she and Sarah keep them away from others, except when they attended public gatherings? This sounds like cultish control, not genuine caring.
Or there's the bizarre, highly unlikely but possible, claims of a conservative Christian commentator that the two parents were very dysfunctional “liberals” who took their anger over Hillary’s loss to Donald Trump out on their kids (who they had USED as social props)!?:-(
What a Gross political demeaning charge!
Regardless, of Jennifer Hart’s horrific actions, especially murdering her kids and her spouse, and her unknown motivations--
the Hart Family is a glaring example of the tragedy of hope at present, where the supposed "Good News" of Christianity in the U.S. is centered on selfishness, inequality, injustice, threats of war attacks, verbal put-downs and demeaning speech, immoral actions...all in the name of Christ, of God. And many of these conservative Christian leaders also claim that God has foreordained most of the billions of humans to eternal torture for their God's glory!
Shameful and despairing…
Seek the Light, seek Hope
Tuesday, April 10, 2018
From Amnesty International:
URGENT ACTION: EGYPTIAN DEFENDERS AND JOURNALISTS DETAINED (EGYPT: UA 69.18)
Ezzat Ghoniem is a human rights defender and co-founder and director of the Egyptian Coordination for Rights and Freedoms.
1) TAKE ACTION
Write a letter, send an email, call, fax or tweet:
Calling on the authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Ezzat Ghoniem, Mostafa al-Aassar, Hassan al-Banna Mubarak, Moataz Wadnan, Hisham Genena and Azzoz Mahgoub as they are detained solely for their peaceful human rights work and the exercise of their right to freedom of expression;
Urging them to investigate all reports of enforced disappearance, including of Ezzat Ghoniem, Mostafa al-Assar, and Hassan al-Bana, make the results public and bring those suspected of criminal responsibility to justice.
Contact these two officials by 14 May, 2018:
Office of the Public Prosecutor, Dar al-Qada al-Ali, Down Town
Cairo, Arab Republic of Egypt
Fax: +20 2257 74716
Salutation: Dear Counselor
Ambassador Yasser Reda, Embassy of Egypt
3521 International Ct NW, Washington DC 20008
Phone: 202 895 5400
Fax: 202 244 4319 -OR- 202 244 5131
Contact Form: http://www.egyptembassy.net/the-embassy/ambassadors-corner/
Salutation: Dear Ambassador
Thursday, April 5, 2018
It seems that sentient animals do have inherent worth.
(Only some religious and atheistic leaders deny that.)
But do such animals have rights?
First, one needs to carefully define what "rights" are.
Second, one needs to clarify, why do many think that humans have rights?
After all, humans are one type of primate, which is one sort of ‘animal.’
Third, there is the question of whether any inanimate matter has worth and rights. Does it?
Do rocks, gravel, seas, waterfalls, mountains, tectonic plates, copper, oxygen, hydrogen, planets, stars?
4. How about animate matter--weeds, wheat fields, strawberries, shrubs, trees, and so forth?
5. How about basic life forms? Do termites, ants, mosquitoes, clams, shrimp, salmon, cod, lizards, turtles?
Some of those are sentient, able to feel, and appear to have rudimentary consciousness.
6. What about more intelligent animals--dolphins, squid, whales, some birds?
7. One way of considering this question is to ask,
when do animals reach a point of aware consciousness?
8. When do they gain the sense of “ought,” of right and wrong, good and bad?
9. When do they become ethical beings who struggle with decisions?
10. When do they become rational, or at least able to reason a little, able to make plans, rather than only respond in instinct to circumstances?
11. When do they have a sense of life, of existence, of the cosmos?
12. When do they begin to ask, why do we exist?
13. Why do those questions make a difference?
14. Or do they?
Please share your own perspective, thoughts, questions, and ruminations
(chewing the human cud of philosophy, biology, and ethics).
To be continued--
In the Light,
It seems that real growth in ethics, justice, and other sorts of human advancement comes like a forest fire. First there’s an initial spark--not more stirring of cold, dead ashes of past events and forms--
and then a patch of ethical flames, and finally, a roaring forest fire of change--of a new movement toward truth.
To whimsy this profound reality versus the conservative tendency to hideout in past achievements:
That was then,
zen is now:-)
Consider this adapted Zen story:
A well-known professor from George Fox University went to visit a Quaker human rights activist. As the friendly activist got out a bottle of spiced rum2 and a large glass for the tired traveler, the brilliant Professor Kno described his ideas of what Quakerism was,
and ought to be. He explained its treasured historical forms, committees, and meetings. But then rung his hands, as he spoke, because Friends as a movement was seriously declining in attenders, and experiencing a severe loss of adherents. Kno pulled out charts and statistical analyses and waved them, considerably upset.
Yet the activist remained quiet so Professor Kno spoke on and on with more erudition and vast knowledge. Meanwhile, the activist poured more liquor into Kno’s untouched glass.
Even when rum reached the brim of the Professor's glass, the activist kept pouring. Alcohol overflowed, spilling onto the tray, table, and down onto the carpet and their shoes, until the professor could no longer stand it.
“Stop!” Kno almost shouted. “Can’t you see my glass is too full?”
“This is you,” said the activist. “How can you find new insights, new truths, until you first decant some of that glut and surfeit in your glass--your own excessive assumed opinions, speculations, and conclusions?
“How can we find new ethical insight, more clarity and Light unless we first clear our rigid forms from our glutted, surfeited, stained glass?”
Side Note: 2See the video: Quaker Speaks
Did the early Quakers drink alcohol?
In the Light,