On the motivation behind denouncing abortion
The energy around prohibiting the option for having a medical abortion is astounding. There is an obsession for eliminating medically supervised procedures that function to abort a pregnancy. Intense attacks are directed toward programs, facilities, and personnel who are available to assist in the abortion process. Critiquing this initiative reveals some interesting concepts that serve to explain this proceeding.
First there is a sense among many of those who oppose abortion that they are working to save the client from making a fatal mistake. This religious objective was first promoted by Augustine of Hippo, the Christian bishop in northern Africa in the fourth century. Some of the members of the Catholic church complained about the immorality of their priests and set out to form another congregation where they could choose their own religious leaders. Augustine interpreted this act as a damning violation of the integrity of the church. He argued that without the church as their mother they could not have God as their father. After failing in his attempts to persuade them to abandon their heretical intention, he enlisted the civil authorities to prevent by force these separatists from accomplishing their objective. He maintained that if someone was inside a burning building he was obligated to rescue them even it was against their will. By doing so he was doing them a favor because he knew what was best for them. Similarly by preventing someone from having an abortion these zealots believe they are doing a service to those who otherwise would choose the procedure.
Another incentive for persons seeking to ban abortions is the belief that any fertilized egg in the womb is a sacred life. Because of this precept these individuals maintain that a medical abortion is the same as murder and therefore must be prevented by all means possible. This argument is akin to the reasoning above without the religious mandate. The potential for full term development of the fetus is equivalent in value to the existence of an independent human being. Under this scenario it is not the client who is to be saved. Rather the embryo needs protection. The manner in which the embryo was conceived is not a consideration. The circumstances in which the pregnancy will be experienced is of no consequence. Neither is the condition in which the baby will be born. All that matters is that an egg has been fertilized inside the female womb and therefore the community is obligated to protect the fetus so that it has the opportunity to develop as it is naturally destined to do.
Carefully considering these and other arguments for imposing a civil ban on medical abortions clarifies the motivation behind the enormous efforts now at work to legislate the illegality of medically ending a pregnancy. And the matter is further illuminated by looking closely at the punishment that is demanded for those involved in orchestrating an abortion.
Laws that have recently been legislated in state government bodies focus punishment on those persons performing an abortion. Interestingly there is no mention of the actors responsible for the pregnancy. There is no condemnation of the woman who seeks to obtain a medical abortion, nor is there any mention of the man who participated in the conception. If ending a pregnancy by abortion is such a violation of value then why is there no effort to identify and hold accountable the individuals who originated the pregnancy? After all they are the responsible parties.
The omission of this designation unveils the root motivation that lurks in the shadows of the anti-abortion masquerade. All arguments to ban medical abortion are in effect arguments for extending and entrenching the servitude of women. Male dominance is the core value being achieved in all proposed and current laws that punish abortion.
Let those of you who fanatically rant about the evil of medical abortion test your own agenda and what motivates you to expend energy and obsession on seeking to devise the illegality of abortion. What is it that you are really trying to accomplish? …And does that somehow make you feel better about yourself?
On the manipulation of poverty
Perhaps in the earliest stages of human life in the earth there was some semblance of equity among the population. Perhaps in the beginning of human life in the earth most of the population functioned to preserve their survival rather than maneuver to gain advantage over others. Yet with a high degree of certainty I can predict that much time was not lost before some members came to recognize the benefit of dominance.
It seems to be a trait of human nature to be compelled to want to be privileged, to be elevated to a position that provides an advantage over the fate of others. The precarious presence of human being serves to expose a vulnerability for which humans cannot escape. Threats of injury and demise exist at every juncture to demand attention. Caution must be continually exercised in order to avoid obvious situations that are dangerous. Yet some conditions that harm and kill human creatures cannot be predicted. They break into our reality without warning and have no adequate defense. It does not take long before everyone recognizes this ‘human predicament.’
There are many ways to gain the advantage, yet the most effective way of doing so is to exert power, either surpassing physical or intellectual power, or the by the practice of base cunning and deceit. By using one of these means an individual can subdue the influence of others. And when even the slightest advantage is obtained it is quite easy to extend the reach of dominance.
On the farm I learned about the benefit of an almost indiscernible advantage. When corn is in the field varying factors affect the growth rate of each plant. However, in a condition that provides one plant more sunlight and more nutrition this particular plant will develop at a faster rate than the others thereby insuring that it receives even more sunlight and more nutrition. Just one leaf being positioned by winds or shadows so that it is exposed to more sunlight; conditions in the soil that enable the roots to reach more nutrients—this is all that is necessary for one plant to become dominant over the others. And as its dominance proceeds it becomes even more ‘privileged’ because of its exceeding height and strength.
Consider the plants, how they grow. It is a proverb especially relevant when considering the benefit of advantage.
Human life is not that much different than developing plants when it comes to how a slight advantage will work to elevate one individual over the others. And when this happen—and it will eventually happen—a peculiar intersection emerges: How will that privileged individual manage the advantage that has been achieved?
Although many options exist for managing advantage, the most popular one is to use the advantage to serve the interest of the individual. As this specific objective unfolds more and more opportunities are created to extend the reach of dominance. As a consequence the disadvantaged become even more dependent on the behaviors of the dictator.
One of the most obvious consequences of dominance is the exceeding capacity of the dictator to obtain and control resources necessary for human survival and comfort. As the quest for more security and more comfort expands the inequitable measure of resources becomes evident among the population. When more resources are available to the dictator then less resources are available to the others. And because of the insatiable appetite for human preservation continued accumulation of resources by the dictator has no limit. Rather it becomes a contest of ego and self-aggrandizement for the dictator to control as much as can be accomplished, a pursuit that will employ whatever methods are possible. And when more and more dictators emerge more and more resources are beyond the reach of the disadvantaged.
The impoverished condition of the others becomes more and more extreme. It is a condition that cannot be dismissed without the express consent of those who have become privileged by their power. Consequently the poverty created by dictators that at first was a secondary result of inequitable distribution of resources now serves as a way to manipulate the population by sentencing them to a permanent place of servitude and compliance to the will of the privileged.
Human nature is equipped with the rare capacity to make choices, to decide among many options how it will function. Rather than responding entirely based on the value that first comes to mind, to use advantage for the explicit interests of the dominant ones, human nature provides the opportunity for an individual to use advantage for the benefit of the entire community. Yet as rare as is the capacity to make choices so is the rarity of a privileged person to choose to use advantage to favor the community.
The manipulation of poverty is the determining reason for the strife and descent present in the earth. The manipulation of poverty is the determining reason for the presence of conflict and disorder. The manipulation of poverty is the determining reason for despair and resignation, the catalysts of crime and violence.
There will never be peace among persons in the earth without the equitable distribution of resources. And as history demonstrates, it is unlikely humankind will ever know any other kind of existence.
On managing a country like it is a business
What are the consequences of managing a country like it is a business? What would it look like and feel like for citizens of a country to have their leader manage them like they are employees, persons hired to make a business successful—meaning to insure the business makes a profit. Because if a business does not make a profit then it will not survive. Successfully managing a business requires its operation to produce more revenue than the expenses incurred for its functioning. A not-for-profit operation adheres to a different standard, one that depends upon endowment and donations rather than profit to maintain its existence.
Countries are organized in various ways, however they all have this characteristic in common: they all depend upon contributions from their residents to support those who rule, those persons in positions of power who make decisions about how the society will be structured. Usually countries are organized more like not-for-profit operations than like business models. In this concept everyone makes a contribution to the welfare of the country, each according to their capacity, while provisions are made to support those unable to contribute. Sometimes rulers demand more of citizens than can be physically endured or beyond reasonable expectations because of limited circumstances. The result for those who serve is suffering and agony, abuse and affliction. The only possibility for relief comes in the form of protests and rebellion intended to achieve revolution so that a different governing structure can be imposed.
When a country is managed like it is a business, the operation must make a profit. Managing a business begins with carefully choosing those who are employed to do the work. Persons who have the necessary abilities to perform required functions are hired. Initially these persons are employed on a provisional basis. If they prove they can do the work according to specifications they are kept on in permanent status. Those who are unable to perform as expected are terminated. And continued employment requires workers to pass routine evaluations to insure their job performance continues to meet established standards. Whenever employees fail to meet these standards they too are terminated.
Working for a business is not a possibility for individuals who do not have the physical or mental capacity to perform the required work. These persons are immediately rejected from participating. This includes children and the elderly, physically handicapped and mentally ill persons, persons unable to meet the initial educational criteria like reading and writing and the ability to communicate in the dominant language, persons who do not conform to the image the business wants to project, persons unable to find transportation to the workplace, persons who provide care for someone else. Employers will think of others who because of their circumstances would be excluded from finding a position in a business.
Those individuals who have the necessary capacity to perform assigned work and can continue to serve efficiently will be rewarded while those who cannot do the work will be left behind. Individuals who have the necessary capacity to perform assigned work and can continue to serve efficiently will be adequately supported (usually at the lowest pay level necessary for the business to achieve full employment) while those who cannot do the work will be disregarded. Individuals who have the necessary capacity to perform assigned work and can continue to serve efficiently will be valued more highly than those who cannot do the work. Services and provisions for their well-being will be provided for individuals who have the necessary capacity to perform assigned work and can continue to serve efficiently while those who cannot do the work will be overlooked and caused to suffer in agony, abuse, and affliction.
Laws formerly made by the community with the intention of insuring that every citizen is able to participate in the society will be ignored and manipulated by someone who manages the country like it is a business. This manager will not respect rules that protect the weak and incapacitated–those who for various reasons cannot do the work expected so that profit will be achieved. This manager will not respect established rules that limit the capacity of the business to be more profitable. Making money, being successful, accomplishing the expectations of the manager, the board of directors, and the shareholders is the ultimate objective. Those who cannot contribute to that objective will be marginalized, left out, caused to suffer and to despair.
The manager of the business will consider everyone other than the work force as either a competitor or a consumer. When dealing with competitors the manager will maneuver to gain the advantage, to degrade the practices and products of other countries, and to create processes that make it more difficult for competitors to be strong and stable. Whatever leverage the manager has will be used to advance the interests of the manager’s country alone. When dealing with consumers the manager will develop strategies to make the business products attractive, devise schemes to persuade consumers of their necessary benefits, and market products in ways that make them appealing and affordable. No efforts will be invested in working to establish a trade mechanism that serves the interests of all countries according to their circumstances and resources. And the manager will refuse to serve anyone judged to be undesirable.
This would be the consequence for citizens of and visitors to a country managed like it is a business. Do you know of any situation that feels like this? Do you know of any country where someone who lives there might recognize this dynamic?
On the quest to be satisfied
I have long observed the way politicians maneuver to make their personal positions more secure rather than to work for the benefit of all members of the population. The pattern of using influence to provide greater support for certain preferred segments of the population while ignoring legitimate needs of other persons who lack sufficient access to sustaining community resources raises a concern about motivation and hidden agendas. At a time when the United States is markedly divided by political proceedings finding a way to explain such disruptive practices would be enlightening.
On close reflection the reason why political officials seem so protective of their station becomes clearer: they behave in ways that reflect the interests and ambitions of those who vote them into office. The patterns of support and preferences displayed by politicians is in larger measure reflective of the desired support and preferences of categories of people to whom they are appealing for their personal survival in government. Politicians are public servants, yet only the servants of those who they believe can keep them in power. Eleanor Roosevelt seemed to understand this too: In the final analysis, a democratic government represents the sum total of the courage and the integrity of its individuals. It cannot be better than they are.
We live in an era characterized by the presence of a vast quantity of provisions that can make our lives in the earth extremely comfortable and pleasant. We have the option or at the least the fantasy of living in well furnished dwellings that are delightfully crafted, located in beautiful picturesque settings and supplied with enormously entertaining and sensually appealing surroundings to accommodate our leisure, traveling to exotic lands for adventure and discovery. Technologies have been developed that bring a wide variety of conveniences and refreshments instantly and directly to us.
Because of this situation we are nurtured to be consumers, prompted to acquire things that can bring us a continual experience of comfort and convenience. Because we are constantly made aware of the possibility of obtaining possessions that we have been caused to believe have the capacity to please and entertain us, this awareness creates within us the desire to improve our lifestyle. Because so many options exist we imagine that adding other components will bring even greater comfort and convenience to us. There is always the possibility of making our situation better. And because no combination of provisions has the ability to satisfy us, when we eventually grow tired or bored with our environment we are driven to make a change.
The quest for comfort and convenience drives us to secure more financial resources so we can obtain even more provisions, more gadgets, more elaborate devices to bring us more entertainment and more pleasure. Before long we are running in a circle, working to increase our net worth so we can buy more products then repeating our search for more financial resources so we can obtain more current products to replace those before obtained that were unable to satisfy us.
Living in an era when we can easily be entertained and refreshed, conveniently made to feel comfortable has not proven to be the salvation we have been lead to believe would satisfy us. In the silence and stillness of our spirit we sense an unfulfilled emptiness. In spite of all we can acquire to comfort us we continue to ache and yearn to be satisfied. We have difficulty finding a way to be recreated, to be renewed in our progressive journey through the earth.
Maybe it is this dissatisfaction in our society that causes the disruptive and divisive political maneuvering so apparent to us. We know something is wrong so we desperately try to escape this feeling by retreating into comfort and entertainment and pleasure and convenience knowing hiding behind fig leaves will not work for us.
Because we fail in our search to be satisfied we fall prey to the fallacy of believing that more entertainment and more pleasure and more comfort and more convenience will recreate us. Because we are not content we can begin to believe the reason for our dismay is not a deficiency within our self but because of the presence of others. These others take away from us what we need. These others prevent us from getting the things that will satisfy us. Perhaps the political processes we observe visually reflect our inner dismay and graphically represent the ways we function in our search to acquire the contentment we are missing.
While distractions abound that promise they will provide a resolution for the unrest we seek to dispel, searching within this field has not proven to be able to bring us satisfaction. Yet because we are so caught up in pursuing distractions we find it almost impossible to break away from this circular race. So much of what we see around us prompts us to continue pursuing a fatally flawed formula for finding relief. Only a concentrated effort to make our self pause and deliberately step outside of the circular pattern of chasing after more money and more provisions will provide us the opportunity to objectively evaluate our desperate situation.
When we intentionally find a way to break out of this circular pattern of reacting and reflect on its failure to satisfy us only then will we begin to detect the faint whisper of wisdom latent in the experiences we have accumulated along our journey. And when we listen closely to this wisdom, we discover a truth that is obscured by the presence of comfort and pleasure and entertainment and convenience: proper relationship will satisfy us. Treating others like we want them to treat us brings abiding contentment to human creatures. This criteria is innately fashioned within the human constitution. How it came to be this way may be a mystery, yet the reality of it cannot be denied.
Behaving in ways that contradict the guidance that prompts us to respect all others creates dis-ease within the human spirit. It is this dis-ease that makes us feel unsatisfied, and no distraction we can pursue will change this condition. No amount of pleasure or comfort or entertainment or convenience will bring rest to our search for satisfaction. Only by reestablishing proper relationship will we be satisfied.
If we are to redeem our desperate condition we must listen to the wisdom originating within the human spirit and follow its leading. Only there will we find our salvation.
On life that was in the universe
The content of the creation that lies in spaces beyond human reach has always intrigued the earthly resident. Even though we cannot know exactly what is in there this limitation does not prevent speculations of what might be. And the space above the earth has been and continues to be a destination especially compelling of adventure and discovery.
What we are beginning to discover and consequentially to understand from our curious study of outer space is that at some time in the distant past life likely teemed at every point in the universe. Indications present theoretical proof that civilizations lived before and left distinguishing marks that confirm their presence. Although practical proof of societies who resided in the universe remains to be established as conclusively productive, signs of something happening before throughout the vast universe seem to abound.
And yet there has been no actual communication and plausible contact with inhabitants who live at other locations in the universe. However this reality does not dispel the idea that creatures who are at home in the earth are not the only beings who have ever lived in the natural creation. Even though it is true that life in the earth was not the only life present in the universe in the past, it is true today.
Among the many places in the universe where living beings existed before there remains no environment beyond the earth that now can support life. Where once there were sufficient resources and natural materials to provide the essential components for life to survive locally and to thrive those conditions no longer exists out there.
Behaviors of those alien creatures who lived in space beyond the earth worked to destroy their capacity to survive. The actions they chose effectively isolated their differences, created irreconcilable hostilities, and so contaminated their environment that the necessary functions intended to refresh and to recreate them were fatally infected. And because there was no refreshment and no recreation all of this extraterrestrial life died, all of it except life on the earth.
Life in the earth is presently the only life that exists in any part of the universe. Life in the earth is all that remains of the vast life that before inhabited locations in every part of space. It is the surpassing intellectual attribute of creatures who live in the earth—especially the human creatures—that has made this possible.
Life in the earth continues because of the common and mutual concern of humans to protect the environment and to meet the essential needs of every living inhabitant. Life in the earth continues to exist because of the human commitment to preserve global community and to work to keep it healthy and adequately nourished. Life on the earth continues because of the human commitment to share natural provisions and to manage technology so that not one portion of life in the earth is threatened with extinction.
We can be grateful not only for a civilized population who embraces the mutual concern for ensuring the well being of everyone but also for the wisdom and dedication of powerful persons who are positioned to lead us. Because we take seriously the responsibility to structure societies in ways that foster behaviors that both prevent our environment from becoming contaminated and provide nourishment for everyone who lives with us, we can be assured that life in the earth—the only life that remains in the entire universe—shall continue to exist.
On the relation of conservative values and white privilege
Much is made of the necessity to preserve historical conservative values when public elections come into sight. Proponents never tire of complaining about the hazards of liberal policies and how they will undermine the national identity. Critically thinking through this assessment results in a sobering conclusion: being conservative means working to preserve white privilege.
From its conception the national identity of the United States of America reflects the consequence of white persons being in charge. The founding principles that determined the governing documents of the nation establish the practical rule of white male nationalists. Because of their majority status provisions for composing community and defining society were drafted in favor of white preferences. Minority groups were respectfully referenced while always ensuring their inferior positioning would be maintained.
The rule of white male nationalists created what we now know as white privilege—a inherent systematic advantage only available to white citizens. Being a member of the white race was the only requirement for an individual to benefit from this advantage. White privilege has been the primary factor for understanding how the white race has prevailed to occupy the dominating positions of power and prestige. By inheriting this advantage white citizens have continued to ensure their preferences would control proceedings that were intended to determine the structure and functioning of society.
Throughout the two previous centuries however the composition of the United States has slowly changed. For the first time in its existence the white ethnic race is not in the majority. For the first time in its existence white privilege is in danger of being subverted. And the recognition of this reality has brought sheer panic to white male nationalists.
Fellow citizens of scared white male nationalists who uncritically buy into the argument that conservative values are being threatened because the white ethnic race is no longer the national majority make a fatal mistake. These deceived citizens are shielded from the fact that past governing policies have been fashioned to serve the interests of white males by suppressing the equally valid interests of white women and minority ethnic races. A casual review of American history will validate this premise. It is not conservative values that is being threatened; white privilege is being challenged.
Being a member of a minority ethnic race in the United Stated has been a difficult and dangerous condition. Because of the way society is structured members of ethnic minority races have not had the same opportunities for engaging in the community. Because of the way society functions members of ethnic minority races have been discouraged from entering into positions of power and prestige. Because of their differing preferences members of ethnic minorities by contrast have been judged as being a threat to the national identity, something to resist and even to subdue.
This scenario is rapidly changing. More and more white women and members of ethnic minority races are beginning to exert their voice in the democratic procedures established to elect leaders. Across the spectrum of society these persons before repressed are beginning to become a driving force in local and national politics. As this trend continues to develop and to gain momentum the existence of white privilege becomes more and more fragile.
The pursuit of liberal policies is not about destroying conservative values. The pursuit of liberal policies is about transforming the national structure that before has permitted white male nationalists to control the entire population. The pursuit of liberal policies is about ending the reign of white male nationalists and their practice of promoting policies that benefit their selfish interests. The pursuit of liberal policies is about terminating the inequitable advantage that white privilege provides.
Any argument for preserving conservative values is essentially an argument for perpetuating white privilege.
Although the voices of white women and minority races are a threat to the historical national identity of the United States, they are at the same time and more importantly defenders of democracy, necessary for its survival–a thing to be cherished and protected.
White privilege is the antithesis of democratic government. We cannot have both.
On the choice to continue to continue
Hope is based on the premise that circumstances can suddenly and abruptly change. Unexpected events can occur which cause unpreventable revisions in the world around us. Such transitions create new options never before within our reach. Remembering this fact will make it possible for us to persist to continue through desperate conditions, conditions that sometimes will seem to be insurmountable.
When I was before in a contest with the military institution trying to preserve the independence of military chaplains to support soldiers who were struggling with a decision to follow a command directive that would cause them to betray the content of their faith, I was pressured to resign, to leave the military community. I was informed that my service was disloyal. I was told that if I did not voluntarily separate from active duty then I would be officially terminated. I had one of two choices: either I could quit or I could continue and let the institution fire me.
This example details the dilemma that an individual faces when managing a situation in which they are required to decide either to give up or to continue.
At some place on the journey in the earth each one of us will find ourselves in this kind of situation. Sometimes the consequence of our decision to persist will be known to us. At other times the outcome of the choice to continue will not be possible for us to know. Yet we will always know the consequence of giving up.
To give up means that all hope is gone. To give up means submitting to forces outside yourself. To give up means letting someone else determine what you will do. To give up means abandoning the things that you before believed in—values like truth and justice and inclusive community, values that arise from the witness of conscience.
Regardless of the circumstances that define the condition a person must endure, there is always a choice of how to manage the situation. When persons in power betray their duty to defend community by denying safety and expression and equal access for each person regardless of their personal nature and preferences, our efforts to eliminate the injustice created by this self serving agenda often have no effect. Everything we can do makes no difference.
Powerful people use lies and deceit and regulation in order to ensure their self preservation. Because of their choices persons outside their circle of concern can easily become destitute, defenseless, completely vulnerable to the distressful circumstances created for them without their consent. These people have no resources, they are without any visible means of escape. Yet even in this dire circumstance they still have a choice of what they will do. They can choose either to quit or to continue.
Regardless of the pain and suffering and despair that human creatures can encounter, remembering that continuous life in the earth is not the intention of our presence here will bring any situation into a clearer perspective. Either we can let someone else determine our actions or we can choose for ourself what we will do.
None of us can know the future. None of us can know what will happen in the next hour or even in the next moment. Maybe nothing will change. Maybe everything will change. Even so to quit means that I will never know.
If I choose to continue I will know what happens next.