I believe many among us search for a way to declare our support for vulnerable voters across the nation. Congressional senators and representatives currently debate election processes and voter access while many state legislators work to impose complicating restrictions intended to make voting more troublesome for several groups of fellow citizens. Most of us try to engage the process without having a collective means to express effectively our concerns about voter suppression and our support for free and fair elections. Dynamics created by those who continue to promote baseless voter fraud claims make the situation urgent that concerned individuals engage in the conversation.
Therefore I propose that we together embrace a practical manner of visually and collectively declaring our preference that every eligible person who desires to participate in elections has equal access to voting. NopurchaseTuesday is a way for all of us concerned to respond in support and protest.
A national program that encourages consumers to avoid purchasing products and services on Tuesdays is a simple yet dramatic option. By extensively informing sympathetic networks and encouraging collective cooperation, this simple practice has the potential to create a national ultimatum for securing national standards that ensure equal voter access for every citizen.
We all are aware of arguments for provisions that justify making voting harder. We are all aware of the basis for these arguments. And I propose that most of us reject completely these claims, recognizing them to be intentionally deceptive efforts to prevent certain sectors of our population from casting their ballots. And I propose that most of us do not want to remain idle while this conversation and these actions are occurring.
Please join with me to celebrate and endorse and sponsor and actively honor NopurchaseTuesday as a way not only to collectively stand with and for persons who will be disproportionally impacted by state laws that change voting procedures but also to demand that congressional senators and representatives adopt a national standard to ensure free and fair elections.
Quiet simply this is something every citizen concerned about preserving democracy can easily do. There may be better ways to make this happen. Please recommend and initiate any methods to improve the impact. Thank you.
On being conned by politicians
It is one thing to tell a lie and quite another thing to believe it. –Dick Gregory
Several recent incidents including the Watergate scandal and the Iran-Contra affair demonstrate political calculations designed to deceive—lie to—the public for the purpose of generating support for, defending, or keeping secret a desired proceeding. Yet none of these are a match for the blatant pursuit to con the American people evidenced in Bush-Chaney antics fashioned to promote fear of Saddam Hussein and the necessity of invading Iraq.
Unequivocal evidence now exists that proves Bush and the seven top members of his administration on at least 532 separate occasions made 935 statements they knew at the time of their pronouncements to be lies. This same administration implemented unlawful policies of enhanced interrogation methods as well as harsh detainment of suspects with little or no supporting evidence. And what was the result of this discovery? What charges were filed against those who deliberately conned the American people?
We need not wonder why political professionals casually use lies to promote their agendas. The current quest to undermine trust in election systems and practices across the country is just another example of an intentional deception promoted by professional politicians. And like the others it too has been, and probably will remain, unpunished.
When government officials are known to have promoted deception in their capacities and nothing is done to challenge and punish them then there is no manner of preventing the nation from being conned again, and again. If independent media and federal courts fail to expose and convict politicians who have no capacity to feel shame for their practice of obviously lying in the service of their official duties, we have no choice but to live through the consequences of their illegal behaviors.
With such political success of managing information there is no chance for the success of a government of the people, by the people, for the people. When the rule of law is impotent regarding deceptive political maneuvers only you and I need to fear misbehaviors, …especially if we are not white.
On judging the impetus of the January 6th Capitol assault
The overwhelming Republican response to all efforts intended to eliminate the mystery shielding evidence that will explain how the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol was planned, incited, funded, and executed is not a surprise. The response reflects a prevalent characteristic of how the judicial system in our country functions. Anyone who has ever been associated with the dynamics of judicial proceedings has recognized this familiar reaction.
Judicial proceedings appear to be spectacular manifestations of argument and analysis all for the purpose of …winning the case. Both the defender and the prosecutor construct the most compelling appeal they can devise in order to persuade the judge and jury to render a verdict that will either exonerate or condemn a suspect. This is the operation of judicial inquiries.
The judicial spectacle fosters an adversarial examination by two opposing attorneys of all collected relevant facts for the purpose of prevailing in the contest. All conflicting information presented is managed either to substantiate or to contradict the plea of the suspect. The judicial system that operates in our country is not a deliberate quest to discover the truth of what actually happened in a specific incidence.
The objective of finding the suspect either innocent or guilty works to subvert the truth about what really happened. In our present judicial system finding the truth is not what matters. Therefore finding a way to obscure the truth is a significant ingredient in determining the effectiveness of an argument.
Observing actions that are being taken across the country confirms the perception that truth is not the ultimate pursuit of a judicial proceeding, or in other endeavors. Truth is not that important.
Determining what is true is always a perplexing undertaking. However any chance of discovering what is true depends upon the choice of witnesses to represent accurately what they know, what they believe they saw and heard. And there are always contradictions in what witnesses report. All of us see and hear in different ways. Much of the way we interpret what we see and hear is conditioned by our history, by the things we have experienced. However difficult it may be to sort through and analyze these contradictions, the process is entirely sabotaged whenever persons deliberately obscure what they believe to be the truth.
Obscuring the truth has many advantages for those desiring to have the justice system render a judgement in their favor. Obscuring the truth can be beneficial to persons intentionally attempting to deceive and manipulate an audience. Obscuring the truth can effectively cause a group of followers to support a particular policy or undertaking.
Considering the event that occurred at the Capitol on January 6th, many people would not hesitate to affirm the intention of that assault. These individuals support a white supremacist agenda to govern the country in spite of how this is obviously contrary to directives established in the Constitution. This collective community is unabashedly in favor of changing the Constitution to permit a minority to govern the country. And this collective community includes a variety of persons including elected officials, military veterans, business owners, and radical extremists. All of these diverse individuals are united in the desire to replace the constitutional government with a repressive form of government. This will mean the end of a democratic government.
The truth of what actually happened to provoke and enable the January 6th assault on the Capitol may never be discovered. Yet the intention of persons to replace our constitutional form of government is obvious. If democracy is to be preserved, these persons must be labeled as insurrectionists and judged accordingly, under provisions of the present government.
On what it means to be a Christian
Why do Sundays make me sad?
So, I am looking with particular devotion for the evidence of a ‘Holy Spirit’ that can be recognized in the behaviors of persons who claim to be followers of the prophet Jesus of Nazareth. The promise of receiving such a transformative infusion of spirit-altering holiness is a foundational tenant of Christian spirituality. Adherents to this religious practice are ensured that when they open themselves to the teaching and values espoused by Jesus–affirming that Jesus is their savior and lord–this Holy Spirit will reform their contrary human spirit that is prone to promote selfishness and deception because of some lingering element of sinful intuition attributed to an original deviation.
So far I have been confused by what I have seen, especially in the behaviors of persons in the so-called ‘evangelical’ stream of Christianity. Healing the sick, feeding the hungry, welcoming the strangers, these are precise values that Jesus practiced and heralded as important actions for living in harmony with what the creator intended for human life in the earth. Not to mention applauding persons who use the name of God as a token for self aggrandizement; not to mention having a disregard for truth-telling and community building, all practices that Jesus specifically condemned.
I do not understand how certain persons who proudly claim to be Christian can endorse and advance actions and policies that clearly contradict the simply articulated message of Jesus to love the neighbor as you love yourself, to treat others like you want to be treated. Who would not want to be cured when they are sick, not want to eat when they are hungry, not want to be welcomed when they are strangers?
But who am I to judge. ‘The just shall live by faith,’ so the Christians maintain. Faith in what? A declaration? A lifestyle? Maybe it means having faith in what Jesus said and did.
Jesus said it is okay to heal the sick, to feed the hungry, to welcome the stranger, to practice humility, to stand up for truth, to build community across all boundaries. And Jesus did these kinds of things.
Having faith in Jesus means trusting this direction enough to devote your life to doing it. Anything else is just religious talk.
On what I know for certain
This is a troubling time for persons who honor mutual respect and inclusive community, persons who affirm the expressions and perspectives of others, others who have different preferences and different aspirations.
Elected officials betray their oath to our republic by engaging in drastic actions in order to enshrine minority rule, to enact policies that belittle and deny the contributions of others, others who are judged to be undesirable, others who are determined to be insufficient to advance the relational character of a closed privileged community. These deviants focus on establishing a cast society where only the elite, the powerful and wealthy enjoy the benefits of freedom and prosperity.
This tendency toward domination is a persisting element in the nature of human being: the desire to reward the self, to survive by any means, to believe rules that restrict a quest for superiority apply only to the others. These persons claim an advantage in being not extended to those who appear to be a threat their objectives.
Desperation is driven by fear: fear of exposure, fear of inadequacy, fear of loss, fear of being left out, fear of …being human. The human condition includes vulnerability, limitation, mortality. Fear of these innate characteristics is a rejection of human nature. Humans can imagine perfection, supernatural capacity, exceeding accomplishment, immortality. Yet because of influences beyond human control these imaginary exploits remain out of the reach of humans. This condition is referred to as the human predicament.
Being unable to manage this complication creates frustration that expresses itself in feelings of suspicion, desperation, and repression, and these feelings can result in assault and violence intended to destroy perceived enemies. Yet since humans can only be humans this combat is a circular and ineffective obsession that denies the human condition.
A lot of mystery accompanies human existence in the earth. And there are a lot of speculations that have been advanced to explain things that are mysterious about human existence in the earth. Where do we come from before we are born into the earth? Where do we go after we die? Is our behavior while in the earth to be judged by a divine entity after we die? Will we go to heaven or to hell? Are these the only options available to us after we die?
Despite many proposed answers to these mysteries, we do not know for certain the answers to these inquiries. Despite much passionate claim to revelations that have been received to explain these mysteries, no one knows for certain the answers. Faith does not create truth. The practical resistance of some religious persons to shield themselves and their children from contradictory explanations to these inquires shows they in reality do not fully believe that their own answers are in fact the truth.
So what do we know for certain? We know for certain that we do not live alone in the earth. Many other people live here with us. And we know for certain that most of us will eventually die. Everyone who has lived before us has died, except for some renown persons who have been, according to sacred writings, whisked away by some otherworldly transport, a provision dependent upon faith in these ancient writings. We do not personally know of anyone who has been taken away in this manner so we can presume that each one of us who is alive now will eventually die. We do know of some persons who have disappeared but there is no reason to believe that they have been taken away to another realm. It would be insane for anyone to expect that they would escape death, even by a belief based on some strained interpretation of a phenomenon known as rapture.
Yet we know for certain we do not live alone, we know this for sure. Therefore we can conclude we must relate to others. And how we relate to others is a core component of all religious systems. There is a sense that how we relate to others is a major, important behavior to be taken seriously. There is a sense that we will be impacted by how we relate to others. This sense comes from the human conscience, if it has not been assaulted and suppressed nor been eradicated.
In this troubling time, it is important for us to reflect on how we are relating to others. None of us has control over how anyone else relates to others, but each one of us has control over how we relate to others.
Thank you if you are being kind and affirming.
On the proclivity of old white men
So why does the concept that black lives not only matter, but black lives may be compositionally superior to white lives, why does this concept make old white men uncomfortable? Uncomfortable—the concept scares them so that every ounce of reason and civility is expelled from their body like the passing of excrement.
To claim that white power makes white men superior is such a crock of manure. White power exists because white composition propels white men to domination, to control, to entitlement. And why does white composition propel white men to domination and control and entitlement? Because white men are scared to be vulnerable. White men are scared to be equal, to share provisions, to provide justice for everyone.
To be equal, to share provisions, to provide justice for everyone takes courage. It takes internal stamina. It takes discipline. And white men do not have the power to do that. And they know they do not have the power to do that. So white men maneuver to ensure that they dominate, that they control, that they are entitled.
That white men are uncomfortable with being equal exposes them to be inferior, to be weak, to be less capable than the others they desperately persist to preside over. Anyone, anyone who persists to resist and to challenge this desperate wielding of power is far superior to those old scared white men.
On the freedom to lie
Nothing more completely reveals the character of a person than freedom. The ability to speak and act in ways that are unrestricted by occupation and dominance provides a generous capacity for expression and design. Being free to engage in individual pursuits removes what otherwise would be repressed containments that stifle imagination and creativity. Freedom provides access to provisions and opportunities that can be used to gain advantage and to achieve prosperity.
Freedom prevents supervised regulation of the methods a person chooses to use in order to succeed in accomplishing some determined objective. As long as caution is taken to avoid unlawful behaviors, or at least to be successful to avoid being caught behaving unlawfully, an individual can move unobstructed along a set course. Freedom grants a person abundant space to conspire and operate.
How a person represents themself to another is completely within the prerogative of the individual who is free to decide. The unfettered provision enabled by freedom allows a person to distinguish the pattern of how they will relate to others without any limitations imposed by the need to acquire permission or consent. A free person can of their own volition decide how they will function. Only the set of values and moral prerequisites that abide within the heart and the spirit of the individual will serve to guide their performance.
So the way an individual who is free to choose decides how they will proceed is a direct reflection of the content of their inner orientation, the nature of their innate composition. Whatever external forces have previously acted upon the individual combined with the sensitivities that arise from the human conscience, these criteria alone give direction to subsequent speech and actions. By observing these public manifestations the character of the person performing them can easily be ascertained.
However, when operating in total freedom there is one ingredient that may escape recognition by even the most intent observer: is the individual being honest; is the individual telling the truth. There is simply no way do determine in their speech whether or not a person who has the freedom to function is lying. The capacity to lie without challenge is directly proportional to the amount of freedom an individual has acquired.
And herein lies the most threatening component of freedom. Freedom nurtures lying. Freedom permits a person to lie without consequence. Freedom provides the unobstructed opportunity for an individual to lie without being discredited. The result of this condition is that freedom fosters the disposition and even encourages an individual to lie in order to achieve some desired objective.
Freedom indeed provides many benefits for a person. Probably the most beneficial is the ability to lie unrestrained. If the individual has no internal objection to lying then lying will be a natural action for the one who is free. This matter becomes a problem only for the community.
This is why telling the truth is so difficult, maybe impossible for persons who are aggressively passionate about maintaining an advantage. Since freedom makes lying so convenient and profitable and unopposed (even if the lie is eventually exposed) why then would anyone want to tell the truth?
On the matter of the cup that runneth over
What happens to the component of privilege that overflows from the cup of those who are exceedingly blessed? This question is prompted by the reference to the state of being wherein a person has so been benefited that their existence is described as being like ‘a cup that runneth over.’ The expression is included in the 23rd Psalm contained in the sacred biblical writings of the Old Testament. This psalm is a confession of exceeding gratitude for having been granted unimagined grace that provides unexpected deliverance and abundant prosperity.
When a cup is less spacious than the amount of ingredient that is emptied into it the amount that exceeds the measure of the cup runs over, it spills out. This component of the substance that was intended to fill the cup moves beyond the usefulness of the owner of the cup. Therefore, theoretically, it is available to some other.
Visualizing this process and contemplating the amount of substance that overflows from the cup prompts speculations that might explain what becomes of the extra portion not contained in, the portion that escapes from the full cup. One such option is to consider that the excess serves to nourish those persons not privileged who struggle nearby to find a basic level of sustenance. For these people the overflow from the cup of the privileged represents a source of survival. Together these others desperately scrap for every ounce of the excess so that nothing is lost.
This image paints a picture of a certain class of individuals who have more than everything they need and desire. They have no lack of resources; they can obtain any provision they could want and still their means of supporting their appetites is beyond their capacity to exhaust it. Regardless of all they can possibly pursue there is still some portion of benefit remaining. More has been made available to them than they can use. That which remains becomes the source of a meager survival for those who exist underneath the overflowing cup. These desperate persons wait for it like they would grasp at crumbs that fall from the table of rich folks.
This scene describes the situation of wealth inequity that exists between the rich and the poor, between the privileged and the underserved. The persons who search for a way to survive greatly out number the collection of individuals whose cups overflow. And this situation requires an answer to the question of why the condition prevails that allows some cups to overflow and others to barely have anything at all in them. There must be a way to preserve the overflow and share it among those who lack sufficient resources for sustaining themselves and their families.
Before when I worked in a small shepherd village in the occupied West Bank a bit south of Hebron there could be seen across the valley a luxurious yet illegal Israeli settlement. Beside the paved streets was green grass and numerous flowers routinely nourished with water generously distributed by irrigation sprinklers. In the Palestinian village I lived in there was no paved streets, no green grass, no flowers. And there was no running water. What water could be found was supplied from dugout cisterns. To collect as much rain water as possible the ground was shaped so that the rain water runoff was channelled into groves that directed it into the cisterns.
Here is a dramatic example of the disparity in cups that run over and cups that barely have anything at all in them. Yet this image portrays the kind of existence in which those who dwell below the cups that runneth over feel themselves to have. They see the inequity, the excess of the privileged while they scrap and conserve to have barely enough to survive. Sometimes they lose this struggle.
It is obvious that those with the overflowing cups are not of their own volition going to choose to share with the others, even to provide a means for the overflowing privilege to be made methodically available to the others. Even some of those who profess to be very religious—to have enthusiastically asserted in public the confession that they are trying to please their deity—even these do not relate empathically with those underneath them. Rather than voluntarily sharing provisions the privileged work to compose rules that make it more certain for themselves and consequentially harder for others to survive, making it impossible for others to experience a fulfilling existence like the one they themselves enjoy.
Some more empathetic societies have established rules, enacted laws that apply to everyone who resides therein. These measures make it mandatory that a portion of the resources of those whose cups overflow be distributed to others less privileged. For as long as someone remains a part of the community they must submit to this procedure. Yet even with this practice the struggle of many who live underneath the wealthy are underserved. They have less than they need to be content and satisfied.
More often though the method of dealing with cups that runneth over is to simply replace the inadequate cup with a larger one.
On the reason for lauding Limbaugh
A celebrated voice for regulated American nationalism is now silent. Listening to Rush Limbaugh was a calculated effort intended to facilitate tolerance and to be informed regarding the thought process that animates an influential segment of the population in the United States. It did not require much listening to understand the factors that motivated Limbaugh and organized his speech. Reflecting on his prominent and relentless critique of American culture provides a full understanding of the elevated place he held for his admiring followers.
One characteristic of his presentations is particularly notable: Limbaugh did not mince words or ideas or judgement. He did not shy away from blunt descriptions and specific allegations and focused accusations. He clearly expressed himself and capably elaborated when broadcasting his opinions. It is this factor that seems to be his most endearing attribute. Limbaugh was willing and able to say out loud the kind of things that so many of his devoted listeners were thinking and wanted to say but were too shy or too ashamed or too isolated to actually repeat them in a public forum. Limbaugh was their voice, their champion, the manifestation of their sympathies. Limbaugh said what they wanted to say but did not say because of the threat of embarrassment and the shame in appearing to be dissolute.
The message which Limbaugh consistently published contained unmistakable descriptions of deficiencies in individuals who did not conform to his concept of what it means to be a citizen of the United States. He judged such persons to be inferior, to be the source of problems, to be a threat to the future of the nation. These individuals were out of place, they were not welcome, they were a presence that needed to be subdued so that his (and that of his followers) pursued vision of American nationalism would prevail.
Yet for persons who agree with him but are still aware of some semblance of conscience or who have ever been to church or who have a sense of human spirituality, describing Limbaugh as their hero is an awkward differentiation. And this is where the necessity of praising Limbaugh arises.
For persons who are even nominally aware that they share a planet with many other people–different people–these individuals realize that relationship is necessary. Relationship is an undeniable requirement of being alive in the earth. And judgement about how to nurture relationship becomes a serious issue. Who among us can with any certainty pass judgement on any other one of us? Who among us is superior to any other one of us? Who among us has the right to dictate what another one of us can or cannot do? For persons with this sensitivity how someone relates to another is an important matter, especially when combined with a concept of life after death when we all will be held to account for how we related to others while we were alive in the earth.
For these persons praising and applauding Rush Limbaugh is a means of finding personal comfort, a way to be reassured, a matter of being consoled for feeling the same things that Limbaugh professed. These persons need Limbaugh to be celebrated and honored because they know his destiny will be their destiny.
On the moment of decision: truth or falsehood
Once to every man and nation comes the moment to decide in the strife of Truth with Falsehood, for the good or evil side…. – James Russell Lowell, 1845
Another moment of decision has come for persons who identify as Republican.
Over the course of one hundred and fifty years there is now front and center and undisguised a clear mandate that demands a choice of those who have promoted the political pursuit of small government and free enterprise and the option for persons below to pull themselves up by their own boot strings.
Prior to this moment it has been possible to satisfactorily rationalize about the benefits of Republican political objectives. Prior to this moment it has been possible to comfortably justify the benefit of ensuring the independence necessary for individual achievement. Prior to this moment it has been possible to prudently avoid an analysis and critique of the motivation behind the reasons for preferring deregulation. The choice of being able to remain inattentive and undetermined in these matters now is no longer an option.
From within the events occurring during the past decades there has emerged a naked agenda that exposes the quest for minority rule by practitioners of the Republican brand of government. Many who have been caught up in this pursuit have done so by naively trusting a process without examining the consequences of it. For these unsuspecting individuals the advantages provided to them have been all they have considered. The personal advantage given to them by the Republican pattern of government was sufficient to exact from them their sustained loyalty.
Now the pretenses have fallen away; the method behind the madness has been laid bare; its core purpose has been dragged inconveniently into the light. And what we are seeing is the uncensored truth behind the travesty of obstructing the process of Reconstruction following the Civil war.
Some concepts in isolation do generate individual accomplishment; they do provide impetus for personal achievement; they can nurture ambition and creativity. Yet in the context of community they can ignore the reality of the consequence of difference—difference in physical statue, in mental capacity, in power inequity, and difference in any other component of human being that can provide a way to gain the advantage.
It is the quest to gain and maintain the advantage that has motivated the character of modern Republican government. It is the quest to narrowly define the concept that ‘all men are created equal’ so that it applies only to the white segment of the population; that those who crafted these words in the Constitution of the United States intended for it to apply only to the privileged class of Americans. This declaration they assert did not refer to individual equality but rather to the right of powerful Americans to decide the form of government they would adopt.
This deception may have been able to lurk quietly in the shadow of Republican operations before under the guise of promoting ‘democratic rule’ but it is now out in the open, uncovered, impossible to ignore, and no amount of effort to conceal it again will succeed. This white-privileged agenda must be acknowledged by every person who has associated with the Republican political party. And more than that; they must now choose in full awareness whether they will continue to support it or not.
In the strife of truth with falsehood a moment of decision has come, again, 2021.
Politics is for grown-ups
Growing old is inevitable; growing up is still optional. —Lynda Wilcox
There is one thing for sure we should have learned since 2015: politics is for grown-ups. Not a children’s game; not for those immature individuals who prefer to push and shove and bully their way, maintaining the advantage either by size or cunning or deceit, living as though they are superior, entitled, always able to keep the toy they deserve, never to share it with anyone else.
After seeing this performance play out on the national scene over the past five years we recognize a need, a necessity to reflect on the process now in place that invites and allows a person to pursue a political appointment. The present system is open to pretty much anyone who is beyond a certain age and able to communicate with some degree of proficiency. That is pretty much the requirement, that and having an adequate following to support the campaign might successfully propel the candidate into public office.
Maybe its time to expand the criterion for holding public office and continuing in this service so as to make it a professional calling, to make service in this particular vocation safe for the rest of us.
Look at other professional vocations. They have in common a measure of performance standards to protect the public from malpractice. Regardless of one’s physical standing, economic advantage, capacity to lie and con and shove and push and bully, they must satisfy a few fundamental qualifications. One cannot for instance hang up a sign over a door advertising the services of a dentist or an attorney then purchase the necessary technical equipment and begin to practice. Nor can one simply put on a uniform and suddenly become a professional baseball player or reputable soccer player.
For example, take the requirements for driving a motor vehicle or piloting an aircraft. In order to qualify for a license a person must take a test and meet physical capacity requirements. Afterward when the license has been granted it is both limited to the operation of a certified category of machines and contingent on future evaluative standards being satisfied. Once a drivers license has been issued it is destined to expire and the person having it must renew the license after a designated number of years and sometimes take another examination to ensure the individual is still eligible to continue operating the vehicle safely. A pilot license however does remain active indefinitely and will only be revoked after a serious violation of flying rules. Yet even without this deviation of established aviation rules the pilot must provide a current medical certificate in order to fly the aircraft lawfully.
Therefore it is not unreasonable to demand of our public servants some additional measure of performance standard before they are allowed to enter into and remain in the political arena. Considering what manner of evaluative content should define this standard measure we can begin to imagine certain elements that would be important to include. Then we could postulate some possible criterion for a person to satisfy before they begin the pursuit of public service. As in the other cases mentioned above anyone who meets this standard would be able to convenience the public that we could expect the individual to safely perform the designated service upon which they are positioned by the electoral process.
The oath of office is already a standard criteria for a public servant, and it should remain in force. Yet as we have observed over the past few years allegiance to the oath is not a guarantee that the servant will keep us safe from danger or deception. Therefore we must supplement the requirement of an oath with other more practical and easily measured criterion. An identification of the ethical values and governmental ideology held by a candidate will help us elect persons who we can trust to perform their duties consistently with these declared patterns of behavior. This measure of identity must extend beyond the currently used singular measure of membership in an established political party or association.
A series of multiple choice questions would be a start toward improving the present method of trying to understand the objectives of persons who desire to earn the privilege of being a pubic servant. Having answers to these questions on file would allow us to more easily hold successful candidates accountable to their pledged performance standards. The answers to these questions would represent an assessment of the candidate similar to the evaluations that qualify a person to fulfill another professional vocation. This declaration would also serve to provide the same purpose as other professional evaluations, that of ensuring the public that the person is able to perform the vocation in a consistent manner that is safe for those who seek to benefit from their service.
Membership in any political affiliation will not only require advance evaluation based on the content of the prescribed questions but also be determined by the specific answers provided by the candidate. After providing answers to these and other questions a candidate will automatically be assigned to a political party or association that reflects a character consistent with the character confessed by the individual seeking public office. Therefore in elections persons voting will have an improved method of selecting the individual that will best represent their own principles and preferences.
The questionnaire might include but not be limited to these inquiries:
Which of the following statements defines your objective for seeking a public office:
a. Promote policies that serve to benefit a certain segment of the population
b. Promote policies that serve to benefit wealthy and powerful persons
c. Promote policies that serve to benefit persons in my district
d. Promote policies that serve the entire population regardless of class distinction
Which of the following statements reflects your relational preference:
a. I prefer to be in the company of persons who look and sound like me
b. I am comfortable being in the company of persons who have the same interests as me
c. I am comfortable welcoming into my presence persons who believe the same things I believe
d. I am comfortable with everyone receiving the same benefits as I enjoy regardless of their history
Which of the following statements represents a behavioral standard you will adopt:
a. I promise to be prejudiced toward persons who are in a different culture than me
b. I promise to work to advance persons who can benefit my career aspirations
c. I promise to advance policies that maintain the status quo
d. I promise to promote policies that will eliminate inequality in all aspects of human existence
Which of the following statements explains how persons who deviate from their declarations should be disciplined:
a. They should be excused and allowed to continue
b. They should remain in office until their term of service has ended and let voters decide their future
c. They should be placed on probation and limited in their influence
d. They should be removed from office immediately and prevented from ever serving in public office again
Adopting these minimal improvements in the manner in which a candidate is identified and described will help us to set reasonable expectations of how the public servant will perform and to hold them accountable to a professed and recorded pattern of behavior as well as to discipline them when a more obvious deviation occurs.
At the least it will enable us to better distinguish the grown-ups from the adolescent players.
On redeeming the exit of extremists
Away from talking about fighting and toward recognizing that we all are struggling; we must turn.
A perceived deficiency in being, a feeling of insignificance; these components initiate the gradual movement of an individual away from constructive community performance and toward radical attitudes and actions that work to disrupt community functioning. When rejecting the benefits of community that serve to protect, nourish, educate, and sustain all those included within its reach, a member makes the choice to exist outside this protective structure of society.
These individuals are called extremists. They isolate themselves in an alien domain. They forsake communal instincts for the sake of pursuing some individual aspiration. They fail to reconcile their need to be unique with their need to belong.
Living beyond the reach of benefits provided by community is an unsustainable existence. This separation from protection and nourishment cannot endure for very long. These basic human needs will search for satisfaction. They will find a semblance of fulfillment in other less capable associations. These synthetic constructions will eventually prove inadequate to accommodate all the diverse dimensions of human being.
What causes a person to leave the protection of community and embrace a radical, unnatural, perverted pattern of existence? Why do some individuals choose to abandon the care and nourishment they formerly received for a life intent on disabling that same heritage? Becoming an extremist: is it an action or a reaction? Is it a rebellion against the natural composition of human being or is it caused by a failure of community, an insensitivity and betrayal that pushes a person to the edge of belonging by repressing individuality?
We do well to consider the consequence of an action or regulation or enforcement or inequitable application that injures the conscience of an individual. When a person is forced to perform or be impacted by an action that contradicts their internal sense of what is right and what is good, then they are wounded maybe in their body but always in their spirit. They are diminished in their self determination. They are disabled in their capacity to adapt. They loose their trust in institutional structure. They feel they have been seduced and deceived. This anguish prompts them to search for a place where they can be authentic. This pursuit moves them away from community inclusion and closer to the edge of belonging. If the injury is intense enough, they become extremist–they renounce their identification with the unjust community order that before hurt them.
Can an extremist be reclaimed? How is an extremist redeemed, re-embraced by the community, healed of a prior injury?
One method is to shun, to banish the individual so they begin to see the benefits of belonging inside the community. Withholding the services of community structure enables a person to realize the importance of these essentials, their necessity in the individual quest to experience satisfaction and fulfillment. This action is remedial, an education in the hope that the individual will recognize the inadequacy of relying on synthetic constructions to sustain them.
The other and better method is to apologize for unjust treatment. This method of redeeming an extremist is more difficult to perform because it requires the community not only to admit an error but also to make restitution for the injury inflicted and the loss it caused. This method depends upon the community to evaluate, identify, and correct abuses that occur to those who reside there. This method demands that everyone be treated the same, that laws and conduct be equitably enforced. This method refuses to give preference to anyone, regardless of their perceived importance or position of power.
As long as community action results in injury to an individual there will always be individuals who gravitate to the edge of belonging. And if the pain is severe enough they eventually will become extremist.
On the impulse to take by force
Rape, robbery, violent physical assaults; death threats, derogatory insinuations, violent psychological assaults, all intended to take away place and dignity from another. This impulse to take by force is not a new phenomenon. The existence of laws and norms in societies are the result of ways cultures have responded to this tendency of human nature to exert pressure on others in order to accommodate the desire of selfishness, to accomplish an action that will bring satisfaction and fulfillment to a singular individual fantasy.
The horrific acts displayed at our national capitol brought front and center the evidence of this capability of human being. They remind us in a more intense manner of what we frequently observe on a smaller scale. As the investigation unfolds into the extent of activities that prelude and contribute to this destructive demonstration we share in a compassionate empathic way the pain and suffering of those who were innocently caught up in its consequences: capitol police, congressional membership and staff, journalists. Their distress haunts us, that such an occurrence should break forth upon them with such profound indications of hatred and vengeance.
Passionate beliefs and intentions validated by political leaders and media personalities created conditions in our national capitol for disregard of laws set forth in order to prevent the eruption of the tendency of human nature to exert pressure on others in order to accommodate the desire of selfishness, to accomplish an action that will bring satisfaction and fulfillment to a singular individual fantasy—the aspiration of Donald Trump to continue as president of the United States.
Until laws are changed, until the constitution is amended in a way that would allow this kind of intrusive disruption the persons associated with and involved in this disregard for the established operation of our democratic society must be identified and given the opportunity and the encouragement to atone for their actions in a way that constructively serves our republic in accordance with how the population has empowered our judicial system to proceed.
On the relation of insecurity and inclusion
As the tenor of the past four years begins to transcribe many of us search for a way to facilitate inclusion. The heaviness of discontent presses upon us. Discord reverberates into every proceeding. Danger has moved nearer to the surface of public interface. These disconcerting complications so disturb us that we wonder with reasoned apprehension if there is any way to achieve peaceful coexistence within the population.
Peeling away distractions created by political difference, social practice, cultural identity, religious distinction, racial demography, and other diversions resulting from variations of primordial human nature will help. And we must admit there are some things that cannot be altered by any construct.
Behavioral scientists and psychologists prompt us to recognize fundamental conditions that must be provided in order to sustain human existence. Food, shelter, companionship, security seem to be the essential components. A deficiency in any one of these elements disrupts community functions.
Our most promising approach in the quest to facilitate inclusion is to observe our current situation. Where do deficiencies in food, shelter, companionship, and security exist among the population? And of even more importance, What causes these deficiencies to exist?
Evolution of cultures instructs us that there exists in human nature a dominating impulse for self preservation. When threatened with death the individual naturally uses every means conceivable to defend the self, to protect the self, to continue living. Yet there are a few behavioral exceptions occurring in nature. One of the most compelling is the act of the pelican mother to peck and wound herself in order to feed the dripping blood to her offspring. This altruistic gesture defies the theory of natural selection, the survival of the fittest, and has long baffled scientists in attempts to explain it. It seems to be an instinctual sacrifice. There are incidences in human interactions when a similar gesture of self sacrifice has occurred. In these examples it is the same altruistic instinct that has produced the amazing result.
The basic sense that prompts altruistic human behavior can easily be observed in young children. A concern for mutual welfare exists in their interactions. This concern crosses every boundary of cultural distinction and racial demography. Has altruistic behavior evolved over the course of history or is it a primordial natural trait, a component of consciousness? Regardless of the answer the fact of its presence is our reason for hope and assurance that given the proper disciplined desire peaceful coexistence can be achieved.
So what alters this concern for mutual welfare as children grow to adulthood? What causes adults to forsake the natural urge to help others? This change in the attitude of an individual seems to occur because children are unaware of dangers that adults perceive. The same child who earlier assisted another will become violent when a cherished toy is taken away. The reality of loss changes relationship.
As a national population we have the capacity to provide sufficient food, adequate shelter, and enriching companionship for everyone. Our challenge is how to provide security for everyone. The reality of loss exacerbates the quest to provide adequate security for everyone. The reality of loss produces feelings of insecurity. Lack of security causes individuals to passionately hold on to things: resources, power, control, position, advantage. Lack of security produces deficiencies in food, shelter, and companionship. Lack of security for everyone will defeat any effort to facilitate inclusion.
The certainty of change makes loss a real condition. Because of the reality of loss we fear the next moment, we fear the night, we fear tomorrow. We will never achieve peaceful coexistence–inclusion–until we learn to manage our fear of time.