Sunday, October 25, 2020

Should President Biden pardon Trump’s crimes against humanity?

“…wherever the people are well informed they can be trusted with their own government; that whenever things get so far wrong as to attract their notice, they may be relied on to set them to rights.” – Thomas Jefferson

When Biden becomes President, he must not pardon Trump without a public trial. Americans must know the extent of his crimes before any pardon is provided.

It is traditional from the incoming President to pardon the previous President for misdeeds committed. There is a monstrous political struggle that happens around the Presidency. Mistakes and stumbles get exaggerated for political purposes; and it makes the office holder seem much worse than he actually is.

So, the incoming President usually pardons the outgoing President “to preserve the dignity of the office and the unity of the country.” But Trump’s numerous offenses include crimes against humanity. Crimes against humanity are attacks directed against civilians such as dehumanization, deportations, extrajudicial punishments, kidnapping and forced disappearances, unjust imprisonment, political repression, racial discrimination and other human rights abuses.

Americans need a public trial of Trump to realize the extent of his crimes. They need to be properly informed so they can understand what happened under Trump’s watch. Only then can we pardon his crimes while in government office (but not any personal business or civil violations).  

Trump has committed two clear crimes against humanity:

1) Trump contradicted the medical leaders to minimize coronavirus, leading to tens of thousands of preventable deaths. By his words and example, even in the face of ever-increasing deaths, he encouraged people to ignore governor's mandatory masking directives to stem transmission of the disease. Evidence of his criminal wrongdoing: The USA has the worst record of cases, hospitalizations and deaths in the world.

2) Trump directed separating children from their parents at the border, which he stated was to scare away others seeking asylum. Every psychology professional in the world will tell you that child separation from parents causes Reactive Attachment Disorder, which results in lifetime suffering with delayed physical growth, delayed learning, and challenges in school that lead teens to drop out of school, and display delinquent or antisocial behavior. Trump’s harmed innocent children for life.

After holding a public trial so Americans can grasp his crimes, then perhaps Biden could pardon Trump, but only for his actions in government office, not for his private transgressions as a civilian.  

 

 

Saturday, October 17, 2020

The missing part of Dobson’s story

This is in response to an electioneering video published by James Dobson, Christian evangelical conservative: https://www.facebook.com/DrJamesDobsonsFamilyTalk/videos/376064266765445/UzpfSTEwMDAxNDMzMjc1NzA4NDo5NDM2Mzc2OTk0NTczMTM/

Lincoln’s Republican Party was significantly different from today’s Republican Party. Lincoln led to free the unpaid black laborers. Today’s party opposes organized labor and fair wages, which cuts into profits and makes more people into wage slaves. In the last 43 years, the formerly balanced portions of income garnered by each class has shifted so that the middle class is disappearing, and we have megalomaniac billionaires in a race to see who will be the first trillionaire.

During the American Civil War, Lincoln’s party passed major progressive legislation in Congress to promote modernization, including the first income tax, many excise taxes, a huge national debt, free homesteads to farmers, and aid to education and agriculture.

In 1896, under McKinley, the GOP guaranteed a sort of pluralism arguing that prosperity would be shared by all ethnic and religious groups, clearly a Democratic position today.

In 1907, Teddy Roosevelt proclaimed, “But during the last few years it has been the wealthy corruptionists of enormous fortune, and of enormous influence through their agents of the press, pulpit, colleges and public life, with whom I've had to wage bitter war." Today, Republicans are the party of the wealthy. 

Lincoln’s Republican Party that Dobson refers to, was progressive.

Now, Dobson’s party is one that threatens armed revolution, the overthrow of American freedoms in support of an extreme right agenda that will continue to oppress the poor, and make the average American dependent on corporations and government.

Dobson wants us to vote (in the order he listed them) …

For the second half of the 2nd Amendment, which gives gun rights ... without the first half of the Amendment which conditions gun rights on being “well regulated.”

Wants not just a 6-3 extreme right-wing court, but even the next supreme court justice.

To maintain a college of elite electors ... to change a 3-million-vote majority into a loss for the people and a win for the rich minority.

A republic ... with democracy in chains or even free of democracy.

Police enforcing law and order .. instead of peace officers and social workers operating community outreach programs that prevent most crime and ensure everyone gets a fair chance at prosperity.

To grow what is already the most powerful military on Earth and the military-industrial complex that provides 75% of the weapons to the world. Jesus teaches this, you know.

The right to speak his opinion ... which is handed to him by misinformation agents of the Koch political organization and its minions.

To secure the borders ... against hungry people seeking a chance at a normal life.

The right to praise God without fear ... and to write laws that enforce Dobson's version of God’s will on others.

To prevent all abortions by law ... even those that would save a mother’s life, even though the Republican Party controlled both houses of Congress and the Presidency twice in the last 20 years.

For freedom ... to not wear a mask, spread disease and disrespect the vulnerable,

and the American Dream ... the liberty to lie, cheat and steal in a cut-throat competition to accumulate more dollars than the next guy at the expense of anyone who gets in the way.

For good and against evil ... good being whatever benefits the rich and powerful, and evil being people who cry out for a fair chance and a decent life.

For the future of the country ... restoring it to what it was 150 years ago.

For candidates who will exercise sound judgment ... like Trump who dismisses the advice of Department of State, FBI, CIA, CDC, his military leaders, Dept. of Health and Human Services, and uses his Justice Department as a personal legal team, 

     in favor of embracing dictators around the world, interference with our elections, misleading Americans about the pandemic and proper precautions, and pardons convicted felons who are his friends. A candidate who will deny aid to a state on fire, and use funds from a federal health insurance program to distribute cards with his name on them during an election campaign. Someone who got caught illegally withholding Congressionally authorized military aid to a country at war in the hope of manufacturing a scandal against his political opponent.

Support Israel ... especially by keeping Palestinians locked in hopeless poverty.

Protect children from leftist curricula ... instead of our religious indoctrination programs, which religious oppression the Pilgrims fled. 

For the nation’s fiscal integrity ... including the $3.1 Trillion deficit this year alone, which could have been avoided if people were paid a fair wage and could actually save some money.

For parental rights ... to continue the pandemic of child neglect and trauma that results in virtually all depression, anxiety, drug abuse, and crime.

For the right to fund our private schools with money meant for public schools.

For freedom (from poor, oppressed people) in the suburbs.

To vote for Christian organizations.

For racial unity ... without equal rights and without admitting – much less resolving – systemic racism.

In support of In God We Trust ... because God can’t deal with these issues by himself.

For school prayer ... so everyone can learn our religion and minority religions will feel minimized.

For freedom of conscious for physicians ... like they can’t already refuse to do abortions, and haven’t been forced to deny the abortion of a dead fetus in Texas.

For marriage ... loveless relationships that are harmful to the children, and against any other actually loving relationship beside the one we ordain.

For life in all its dimensions ... except those of which we morally disapprove or evils we choose to ignore.

For wisdom in handling the pandemic ... because God knows we haven't seen that yet.

For protection for the church and oppressive politicians, because … wait: for protection of oppressive politicians? Wait, wait … government protection of the church? Well, we knew he wasn’t thinking things through completely.

Against euthanasia and physician assisted suicide ... because everybody deserves to suffer hideously, screaming in pain for three days until they final pass.

And against socialism ... because the government really is trying to take over ownership of the means of production and distribution of goods. And like social responsibility is a problem that the church and government don’t already address with major resources. Like the government never supported railroads, electrical wiring, interstate highways, and the Internet. Like insurance isn’t about sharing the financial risk of illness, death and property loss.   

This election is about you. It’s about our kids and grandkids.

This election is about our Constitution and the immutable God-given rights that it protects ... like protection for our churches and our guns.

It is about truth, values, greatness and hope.

Choosing a president based on frivolous personality characteristics is so unfortunate ... because we certainly prefer a president who has a personality disorder.  

Pray that God will spare this nation from tyranny and oppression of religious liberty … so we can dictate that everybody else live according to our religion.  

Vote for the candidates who will best uphold your values and convictions … as they’ve been taught to you.

 

 

 

 

 

Monday, October 5, 2020

Answer to Trump-supporter: "Why do you want Joe Biden as your President?"

Jill and Joe Biden
By TonyTheTiger at English Wikipedia
A friend on Facebook (who happens to be a staunch Trump supporter) asked me ‘why I want Joe Biden as my president?’

It’s actually a good, reasonable question that deserves a reasonable, honest answer.

Admittedly, as a long-time former Republican, my support for Joe Biden is equally about my disdain for Trump as it is about any affection for Joe Biden.

There really is no way to compare the two men. Biden has demonstrated good, decent, honorable and ethical behavior for more than four decades. He’s squeaky clean; so squeaky clean that Trump had to send his man to the Ukraine to try to create some dirt to throw at him. Trump was caught seeking the aid of a foreign nation to influence our American election, just as some of his campaign staff were; and Trump was impeached.  

Biden’s politics and ideology are moderate, which I like. He will work to unite us, rather than to divide us. Biden will restore a level of dignity and rational behavior to the office of the president. He will foster unity once again in our nation, and civil relationships and healthy economic exchanges with other nations in the world. We will all prosper from Biden’s leadership.

But Joe Biden and I are not ‘perfectly aligned’ ideologically. He thinks our government and our economy are working fine; but I see clearly that our government is undermined by a radical-right, minority, rich movement. Biden is a participant in this government and is not likely to change it much. My support for Biden is not about ideology or partisanship, and especially not about emotionally charged issues like guns or abortion.

This election is about the very character and soul of our nation. It is about placing ‘love of country’ above ideology. It’s about saving our democracy, which has been severely undermined and disrupted. It’s about re-evaluating how successful we are being in providing for “the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States.” It’s about whether we accept those in the office of President, Senator or Representative as nobility or entitled. Indeed, I see clearly that our democracy, government, and those who hold office are all corrupted.

Joe Biden is basically honest and will not insult us with a daily barrage of easily disproved lies, as Trump has done.

Joe Biden never has and never will tell us the 'free press' is the ‘enemy of the people,’ as Trump has done.

Joe Biden never has and never tell us we should trust Vladimir Putin more than we trust our own CIA, FBI, NSA or Department of Justice, as Trump has done.

Joe Biden never has and never cage families – separating children from parents, nor will he ever demonize immigrants with lies and hate-filled rhetoric.

Joe Biden never has and never will tell us that NATO, which has successfully maintained peace in Europe for the past 75 years, is obsolete.

Joe Biden never has and never will insult our closest allies (Germany, France, Canada) while flattering and fawning over dictators Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong Un.

Joe Biden will not start unnecessary trade wars with our major trading partners, but will work to end them, bringing prosperity to all of us.

Joe Biden never has and never will deploy federal troops against our own citizens, against the expressed wishes of the duly elected governors and mayors.

Joe Biden never has and never will 'tear gas' protesters to clear a path for a blasphemous photo op holding a Bible upside down against the backdrop of a church, the actual bishop of which expressed outrage at Trump’s actions. Joe Biden is a devout Catholic, and he won’t ever use Christianity as a prop under any circumstance.

And this is important ... respected (former) Republican leaders, men who I trust and respect, such as Gen. John Kelly, Gen. Colin Powell, Gen. James Mattis, Adm. William McRaven, Adm. Michael Mullin and Rex Tillerson will never feel compelled to warn me that Joe Biden is a threat to my nation, my constitution and our democracy, as they have done about Trump.

And finally, white supremacists, such as David Duke, will never endorse Joe Biden and tell us that voting against Joe Biden is betraying our white heritage. If any of these White Supremacists did endorse him, Joe Biden would immediately denounce their endorsement and their racist beliefs.

Joe Biden will never say, 'I take no responsibility at all.’ That is simply not in his nature.

I think you get the point. Joe Biden is my president because he is the ‘not Donald Trump’. I want Joe Biden because in many ways he is the antithesis of Donald Trump.

I want Joe Biden for my president because I love this country; because I believe in America, its citizens and the world. It is not ‘us vs them,’ as Trump keeps asserting in words and actions.

I could talk about the COVID response as well, but you already know that Trump is lying about his incomplete response, which was 1½ months after the first case.

I sincerely hope everyone will take the time to consider what kind of character we want for our leader, for America and for the world. And let’s really ‘make America great again.’

 

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Governments have limits, and We are those limits

  • Folks sleeping on park benches
  • Someone behaving erratically and in harm’s way
  • Someone selling drugs to youth who are overdosing
  • Someone in your home is perpetrating violence on others in your home
  • Someone is talking to themselves on the bus
  • Someone is experiencing a mental health crisis and is afraid
  • Someone is seen snooping in car windows on your block
  • Your friends are intoxicated and starting a fight
  • Your brake lights aren’t working
  • You’re sick and unable to mow your lawn
  • You hit a rough patch and can’t repair your roof

Imagine accessing your neighbors as a resource of knowledge, referrals and immediate help, instead of waiting on a church “mission” team or the government to help.

Imagine having access to training, so you can know how to respond to these situations yourself as part of a neighborhood team of good citizens, instead of calling in the distant, cold government.

Imagine if everybody were included in a small neighborhood community that knows them, meets them regularly, and cares for them; and isolated people can get plugged into a supportive small community that really cares about them for the long term.

Imagine if there were a database where small communities share their information and coordinate care so no one community gets overwhelmed.

Imagine all the people.

We expect police to be capable of responding to ALL of these types of situations, and have to trust that they're doing it right all the time. That's not happening because it can’t happen. Yet, the current model of a police force as a social Swiss Army Knife persists.

Trusting that "a small task force of good citizens" will always be capable of responding to problems in the right way on short notice is not a reasonable expectation. The community pooled its resources to make those people available on call is the entire purpose of government in the first place. But we have shirked our responsibility and put it all on the police. We’ve blamed them for not doing our job. And the laws are written to keep us from doing our part.

I propose that people in the neighborhood start talking to each other and taking care of neighbors and “loose cannons” in their niche of the world; and stop waiting on government to fix our problems.

 

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

How can I learn preemptive forgiveness?

There are a few things I keep in mind to achieve the poise of pre-emptive forgiveness in the turmoil of life...

1. Humility - "[W]hat you know for sure that just ain't so," makes up about 60% of what we think we know. That's science.

2. Honesty - Before you say or do anything that impacts another, do diligence. Research what you think you know. Interview the people who were there. When we take time to study it out, we can achieve about 85% accuracy in our understanding and judgment (at best). ... In the process of doing this, our emotions have a chance to calm down and our instant judgments disappear.

3. Grace - Realize that everybody is doing the best they know how. In 1940s New Mexico, there were two escaped convicts in a shack surrounded by police. As they reloaded their pistols, the murderer said, "Why are people always picking on me?" The answer is, he was brought up in a way that, he just never learned how to get along in this world. But he was doing the best he knew how. Everybody is doing the best they know how. Nobody really knows how. Those who seem to know what they're doing, are faking it. "Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do."

4. I forgive myself preemptively. Any outburst, emotional or rational reaction is a normal human thing, so I forgive myself. How can I not forgive others? "Love your neighbor as yourself."

Of course, it's always an imperfect process ... but really, isn't that the point?

Thursday, August 13, 2020

A Christian friend feels cut off from family

A friend asked, “I have been divided off from the rest of you due to my beliefs. What do you think of this?”

I think you can believe whatever you want to believe. I think that everyone is doing the best they know how. That’s good enough for me.

The difference between me and most Christians today is that they use scripture to determine what love means, but I use love to determine what scripture means.

Jesus taught that we should love God, and our neighbor as our self; and that all the Law and the Prophets depend on that. The Law and the Prophets (and Psalms) were all of the authorized scriptures of Jesus’ day. By extension, the same thing applies to all the authorized scriptures of today – including the Bible. Understanding it depends on love. Love is the key to understanding.

The English version of Deuteronomy 6:4 usually leaves out a word included in the original Hebrew: “Hear you, Israel, Yahweh Elohim-of-us, Yaweh [is] one, AND-you-love Yaweh ….” In the original message from God, the phrase “God is one” is integrally connected with the command “love God.”

In John 17:3, Jesus makes a formula statement: “Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God ….” For the rest of the chapter, he expands on that, praying that we be one with him. He culminates in the ecstatic statement in verse 23, that “they may be brought to complete unity (or perfect oneness).”

So, I think that Jesus teaches love and unity. Out of that core message, he warns of divisions or denominations.

It seems obvious that people want to feel the world is safe and their lives are stable. Anything that doesn’t fit with their nice, neat worldview meets with strong objections and defensiveness, even violence. “Indeed, a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.” Matt 10:36  

In fact, when someone starts speaking about something that isn’t nice and neat, most people will ignore him, turn their backs on him, avoid him, interrupt him, and even rescue others from a sensitive topic by talking loudly over the top of the speaker. We can’t have a civil argument, because people are so fragile and defensive, even actively seeking to misunderstand. Vigilant defensiveness. Divisiveness. Resisting knowing more and even anything different.

But divisiveness is not Jesus’ message. Division is the reaction against Jesus’ message.

So, what do I think? I think people use scripture to justify what they are doing. 

Instead, I accept preemptive forgiveness. I use love to guide what I am doing. I seek first to understand. Then I seek to be understood. And, if someone wants to be my “enemy,” they can do it without my participation. - Christopher


Thursday, August 6, 2020

An Outline of the History of the Radical Right's Rise to Power

By Christopher Aune

It’s come to my attention that virtually nobody understands the historical context of the current radical right-wing takeover of the government and overturning the Constitution. So, here are some points to consider.

  1. The Founding Fathers – esp. James Madison and Thomas Jefferson - debated whether the Constitution should foster rapid growth or empower individuals. Madison argued for rapid growth, free markets, unregulated interstate commerce, large companies and gleaming cities that benefit the surrounding countryside. Notably, Madison was very wealthy and owned slaves, and he was trying to protect his class in the Constitution. Jefferson argued for small businesses, family farms, individuals’ rights, and regulated banks and commerce. In the end, Jefferson relented because, despite winning the Revolutionary War, America was economically weak and the British Empire was mighty. The USA had to foster rapid growth and expansion to stand off a return by the Brits. 
  2. It turned out to be the right move, as the British returned to reclaim “their colonies” in the War of 1812, but lost.
  3. In 1828, the federal government imposed an import tariff aimed at limiting dependency on other countries. The Southern states labeled it the Tariff of Abominations because it resulted in retaliatory limits on Southern exports. But it was consistent with the Constitutional intent, because it fostered the strong growth of the North’s manufacturing industries. 
  4. John C. Calhoun, during his term as seventh Vice President (1825-1832), reacted against taxes and fiscal policy because he saw it as key to withstanding democracy’s threat to economic liberty. That is, he wanted to empower plantation owners over the will of the majority of Americans.
  5. James Buchanan, President from 1857-1861, was a Southern sympathizer from Pennsylvania. He chose four Southerners and three Northerners, whom were all Southern sympathizers. In 1857, Buchanan intervened in the Dred Scott case – which initially denied the enslaved petitioner’s request for freedom – and prevailed on a Supreme Court judge to create a majority and make the ruling apply more broadly to include all Western territories. This outraged Northerners who denounced it. Buchanan’s was considered a failed presidency, which led directly to the Civil War. 
  6. In 1954, Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that U.S. state laws establishing racial segregation in public schools are unconstitutional; and ordered states to desegregate "with all deliberate speed."
  7. Around 1956, Professor James McGill Buchanan – with support of many others, including Milton Friedman – reacted strongly against the Brown decision. He formed a school of political economy at the University of Virginia. He spelled out and taught in great detail the case for “economic liberty,” that is, the benefit of few rules to constrain how a man might get wealthy, and great restraints on the government levying taxes on that wealth. Later, he pointed out that the majority of Americans would not support his ideas; and therefore, they could not win by persuasion. Therefore, they had to create “winning strategies.”
  8. In the 1970s, Charles Koch learned of Buchanan’s theories. In 1997-98, Koch invested millions of dollars in Buchanan’s Center for Study of Public Choice. It trained operatives to staff institutions funded by the Koch brothers, including the Cato Institute, the Heritage Foundation, Citizens for a Sound Economy, Americans for Prosperity, FreedomWorks, the Club for Growth, the State Policy Network, the Competitive Enterprise Institute , the Tax Foundation, the Reason Foundation, the Leadership Institute and dozens of others, plus Charles Koch Foundation and Koch Industries itself. Buchanan’s center has now moved to the Mercatus Center on George Mason University. Buchanan died in 2013. 
  9. Now-VP Mike Pence is heavily involved with the Kochs. When Pence left as Indiana’s District 6 Representative to Congress, Luke Messer, who first worked for the Kochs, replaced him. Pence’s brother, Greg, followed Messer in that elected seat. Senator Ted Cruz is another name most will recognize. 
  10. When the Senate Republicans rejected the evidence for impeachment in January 2020, they excused it, each using virtually the same wording, saying it was a political move by Democrats. By doing so, they failed to perform their Constitutional duty, putting politics over rule of law. Many were following the radical right leadership, fearing their Senatorial vote would be invalidated if they didn't march in lockstep. 

This is a bare-bones outline of how this line of thought developed and now comes to rule in the USA. The philosophy is this:

  • They are reacting to what they see as the ability of the federal government to force individuals with wealth to pay for more public goods and social services that they had no say in approving.
  • Their aim is to insulate private property rights from the reach of government, in particular by reducing the freedom of the many … by hollowing out resistance from the majority of voters.

To gain a more authoritative look at the history of James McGill Buchanan and Charles Koch, and their radical-right legacy, see Democracy in Chains, by Nancy McLean, the William H. Chafe Professor of History and Public Policy at Duke University. https://www.amazon.com/Democracy-Chains-History-Radical-Stealth/dp/1101980974/ 

 

 

 

Thursday, June 4, 2020

In Union There Is Strength


upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/6/...
By James Mattis
Retired United States Marine Corps general who served as the 26th US secretary of defense. During his 44 years in the Marine Corps, he commanded forces in the Persian Gulf War, the War in Afghanistan, and the Iraq War.

I have watched this week’s unfolding events, angry and appalled. The words “Equal Justice Under Law” are carved in the pediment of the United States Supreme Court. This is precisely what protesters are rightly demanding. It is a wholesome and unifying demand—one that all of us should be able to get behind. We must not be distracted by a small number of lawbreakers. The protests are defined by tens of thousands of people of conscience who are insisting that we live up to our values—our values as people and our values as a nation.

When I joined the military, some 50 years ago, I swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution. Never did I dream that troops taking that same oath would be ordered under any circumstance to violate the Constitutional rights of their fellow citizens—much less to provide a bizarre photo op for the elected commander-in-chief, with military leadership standing alongside.

We must reject any thinking of our cities as a “battlespace” that our uniformed military is called upon to “dominate.” At home, we should use our military only when requested to do so, on very rare occasions, by state governors. Militarizing our response, as we witnessed in Washington, D.C., sets up a conflict—a false conflict— between the military and civilian society. It erodes the moral ground that ensures a trusted bond between men and women in uniform and the society they are sworn to protect, and of which they themselves are a part. Keeping public order rests with civilian state and local leaders who best understand their communities and are answerable to them.

James Madison wrote in Federalist 14 that “America united with a handful of troops, or without a single soldier, exhibits a more forbidding posture to foreign ambition than America disunited, with a hundred thousand veterans ready for combat.” We do not need to militarize our response to protests. We need to unite around a common purpose. And it starts by guaranteeing that all of us are equal before the law.

Instructions given by the military departments to our troops before the Normandy invasion reminded soldiers that “The Nazi slogan for destroying us…was ‘Divide and Conquer.’ Our American answer is ‘In Union there is Strength.’” We must summon that unity to surmount this crisis—confident that we are better than our politics.

Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people—does not even pretend to try. Instead he tries to divide us. We are witnessing the consequences of three years of this deliberate effort. We are witnessing the consequences of three years without mature leadership. We can unite without him, drawing on the strengths inherent in our civil society. 
This will not be easy, as the past few days have shown, but we owe it to our fellow citizens; to past generations that bled to defend our promise; and to our children.

We can come through this trying time stronger, and with a renewed sense of purpose and respect for one another. The pandemic has shown us that it is not only our troops who are willing to offer the ultimate sacrifice for the safety of the community. Americans in hospitals, grocery stores, post offices, and elsewhere have put their lives on the line in order to serve their fellow citizens and their country. We know that we are better than the abuse of executive authority that we witnessed in Lafayette Square. We must reject and hold accountable those in office who would make a mockery of our Constitution. At the same time, we must remember Lincoln’s “better angels,” and listen to them, as we work to unite.

Only by adopting a new path—which means, in truth, returning to the original path of our founding ideals—will we again be a country admired and respected at home and abroad.

James Mattis

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Racism: Root cause and a key solution


I’ll cut to the chase: Here is the root cause and the answer you are looking for…

“It falls on all of us, … to work together to create a ‘new normal’ in which the legacy of bigotry and unequal treatment no longer infects our institutions and our hearts.” – Barack Obama

WE KNOW HOW TO DO THAT:

Bias in any form is never okay and should be avoided.

How can you recognize if you're being biased? And how can you practice avoiding bias?

How to recognize your own bias: Any time you FEEL STRONGLY in agreement or in disagreement about anything, that is a bright red flag that you are holding tightly to some preconceived notion that is preventing you from truly understanding. That is bias.

How to avoid bias: When you notice that red flag of bias (strong feelings), first, remember that there's a whole science behind this. Our initial understanding of any other person is only about 34% accurate. We fill in the other 66% with our preconceived ideas. This is Phase I Understanding (superficial, automatic, grossly inaccurate). (Research cited in No One Understands You and What to Do About It, by Heidi Grant Halvorson PhD, Harvard Business Review Press)

When you notice the red flag, stop and start LISTENing. Patiently seek out the rest of the story. Start trying to figure out why that person is acting or talking that way. SEEK UNDERSTANDING. This is Phase II Understanding (studied, takes work, still imperfect). You will never exceed 85% understanding, even after 40 years of knowing someone. Truth!

So, be humble: Realize that you do not know everything; and, in fact, you know very little. Other people are always weird, but they can describe a good reason for their words and behaviors if given the chance. Give them that chance.

Everyone must be trained in this skill once a year. By itself, this will change the world.

Can it be that easy?! Yes. And no: It takes practice. 

And BTW … We know how to bring Heaven to Earth in this generation. – Christopher

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

A lesson in humility from COVID-19

One man tried to convince me that the coronavirus mortality rate was much lower than was being reported because people who had pre-existing diseases and died with coronavirus were being listed as death by coronavirus.

Another man tried to convince me that the coronavirus infection rate was much higher than was being reported because many people had only minor symptoms and never reported it.

What I have observed in life – and learned from social science research – is that people build a world view that is between 33-50% accurate; and we fill in the rest with memories from previous, similar experiences. At best – even after two people have lived together for 40 years – our understanding of them is 67-85% accurate. 

That’s 15-33% wrong. We don’t know each other. We don’t really see reality as it is. We’re inventing a huge chunk of it on the fly.

We use this mental-construct of the world to guide our response to the ever-changing, overwhelming changes of the real world: A process called ego. We project our own interpretations onto the world based on our imprecise perspective, and we try to convince other people of the way we see the world. Leaders are good at convincing people that their worldview is the most accurate, when actually it’s just the most popular and most widely shared.

We work hard to impose our inaccurate, ego view of the world on others, and we get upset when someone disagrees. They don’t get it.

Alternatively, we can learn to recognize that there are way too many stimuli in our surroundings for our senses to detect. If our senses could detect all those stimuli, our brains would be overwhelmed. We’d be unable to function.

To prevent that overwhelm, our senses and the brain have evolved to sort through incoming stimuli to select that which is familiar and makes sense: that which fits our narrow worldview. We dismiss the rest – the majority of information. There’s nothing wrong with this, it is natural and normal process.

But we almost never recognize that this is what’s going on. It’s important to recognize that we get overwhelmed, and that we are selective in what we sense in the world. It protects us from information overload, which would disable us. We wouldn’t be able to make sense of the real world without a mental concept to compare it against. We couldn’t survive. We would die.

When we recognize that this is going on and that our understanding is usually 33-50% accurate – 85% at best, after we’ve thought about it – we become better able to accept that there is more going on than we know. When we recognize that there is more going on that we know, We can be more flexible about accepting the utter fluidity of life and other people’s mental constructs for what they are. This is the practice of HUMILITY, which I keep trying to master in a perpetual struggle with my ego, which wants to be king.

So, my questions about the COVID death rate and the COVID infection rate would NOT be, “Are these accurate?” We know they are not. We don’t have enough accurate data to make evaluations.

My questions would be, “Which perspective is best? One that is certain, or one that is humble?” “Who can be certain?” “Can anybody be certain at this point?”

Obviously, there is no certainty; so, humility is in order.

And that’s a lesson in humility that COVID is teaching us ... IF we’re paying attention.  

Blessings!     

Also, on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IVN2nPE4mUg 
And Anchor.fm: https://anchor.fm/dashboard/episode/ech2f8
And your favorite podcast app. 

Friday, March 20, 2020

Shambala Warrior Prophecy

When the world is about to destroy itself and all life is threatened, the Shambala Warrior appears and destroys the weapons of war and violence. And the kingdom of Shambala appears. It is not a place, but it is a way of being.

They train in the use of two weapons:
  1. Compassion
  2. Insight into the radical interdependence of all phenomena
Don’t be afraid of the powers and their weapons, for they too are part of all that is.

We do not know the outcome. It may appear too great a change for it to appear, but ignore that.

Just be in compassion and insight. Share the compassion and insight.


Wednesday, March 18, 2020

COVID-19 eats lungs*

Here are some things you probably don’t know about COVID-19, simplified from a statement from Kat Storti quoted in the Tom King blog https://wsau.com/blogs/tom-kings-blog/54/its-not-just-the-flu/.

COVID-19  is different from seasonal flu. Flu is an “all human virus,” it transfers from humans to humans every year. Because it comes around each year, we have some natural immunity to it. Additionally, we have a flu shot that helps us acquire immunity and strengthen it. Natural and acquired immunity.  

Not so for COVID-19. We have no natural immunity to it, and there is no vaccination yet.
COVID-19 doesn’t just stuff up your sinuses and lungs; it eats the lungs.

COVID-19 is a “novel” virus, which was previously only in animals. When a novel virus makes the jump to humans, it becomes a problem because we have no natural or acquired immunity to it. We’ve never been exposed to it before, and there is no vaccination shot for it. We are totally unprepared for its assault on our bodies.  

Initially, such a mutation only transfers from animals to humans, so we only get it from an infected animal. Eventually, it mutates so it can transfer from human to human. When that happens, human beings carry it all over the world, and we have a contagion.  

COVID-19 made the jump from animals to humans in December 2019, and in JUST TWO WEEKS it mutated again to jump from humans to humans. This ability to mutate quckly is what scientists call “slippery.”

Besides becoming more contagious among humans, COVID-19 also changed to cause great damage to human lungs. That’s why it’s different from flu: It’s a lung eater.* It’s already mutated AGAIN; so there are now two strains, which makes it twice as hard to develop a vaccine. Who knows what happens if it mutates again?

(*Actually, the disease has a more complex progression, but the worst-case end result is that the lungs get eaten up. Read this for a more detailed explanation: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-03-08/coronavirus-nears-fatal-tipping-point-when-lungs-are-inflamed.)

NOTE: I don't know who the hell Kat Storti is. Tom King did not include credentials when he referenced her in his post.


Saturday, March 14, 2020

Is the Fed saying the next recession breaks them?

“A promise to leave rates at zero until the central bank’s job and inflation goals are met, coupled with perhaps a trillion dollars a year in bond purchases, may be the Fed’s best hope of beating the next recession, and even then may fall short, former Fed research director David Wilcox and former top adviser William Reifschneider said in a paper released on Wednesday.” - Reuters

So, this implies that the Federal Reserve is counting on people to buy trillions of dollars of U.S. bonds that offer zero interest ... in order to bail the economy out of the next recession.


Scientists discover how the universe was created, millennia after Moses said the same thing

“Ripples in space-time could explain the mystery of why the universe exists,” according to Jeff Dror, a researcher at the University of California, Berkeley, and physics researcher at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.  https://www.space.com/phase-transition-allowed-neutrinos-shuffle-matter.html

Funny thing … Moses said that thousands of years ago.

- Genesis 1:2 literally says, at the beginning of creation, "The spirit of Elohim vibrating over the surface of the waters." - https://www.scripture4all.org/OnlineInterlin…/OTpdf/gen1.pdf 


Why no one understands and what to do about it

These days, there are huge powers creating chaos. They are so huge that people cannot grasp how big they are, even when it’s carefully explained to them. It’s impossible to imagine how much power just a few people have.

How much is a billion dollars? A trillion? Just as an example, I’ve seen Jeff Bezos’ $116 billion illustrated this way: Take one grain of rice as a representation of $100,000, an amount any of us would love to earn in a year. At that scale, ten grains of rice would be a million dollars. One thousand grains = one-hundred million dollars. One-hundred thousand grains of rice would be ten billion dollars. Bezos has 11.6 times that much: 1,160,000 grains of rice at $100,000 each. There are about 29,000 grains of rice in a pound; so, Jeff Bezos has about 40 pounds of rice, each grain representing $100,000. I don’t blame Bezos.

Bezos is not the problem. The problem is that, because people don’t understand, none of my knowledge or experience matters. Nobody’s expertise matters. No credentials, or decades of research, or carefully cultivated credibility matters. Even the well-established facts don’t matter. All facts and researchers can all be dismissed in an instant with a sneer and a turn of the back. Because people don’t take time to think, and they especially don’t want to be reminded that they don’t think.
It’s much easier to wave a hand and blot out all facts. Shake the head and claim credible media sources report fake news.

People make a quick, shallow assessment of a situation, a person or a national issue – and then fill in the blanks to support their hipshot assessment. This is called Phase I judgment. Phase I judgment achieves only 33% accuracy, at best. But 95% of every story we tell ourselves is based on Phase I judgment.

Phase II judgment happens when someone starts questioning their first impression and starts digging for more accurate information in a search for the truth. But even when we take time for a second look and carefully dig out the facts, science has discovered that we can only achieve – at best – about 67% accuracy in our understanding of other people and situations, even after we’ve lived with a person for 40 years. (For a better understanding, of Phase I & II judgments, see No One Understands You and What to Do About It, by Heidi Grant Halvorson, Associate Professor of Motivation Science Center, Columbia Business School.)

But our understanding of each other is worse than that. Because we operate on Phase I judgment in 95% of our daily doings, and it is only 33% accurate, we just automatically fill in the rest of the story with information we picked up in a similar situation. We judge people and situations based on 67% fabricated information. We make up a story to explain things and to make ourselves comfortable that there is order in the universe … in the world … in the country.

Don’t get me wrong. Telling stories is an ancient survival skill. There is so much going on in the real world that we construct a vastly simplified mental model of the world. This mental model becomes second nature: An automatic, unconscious response to 95% of the day’s doings. The only time we wake up is when something doesn’t match our mental model. Then, we wake up for about five seconds. (Scientists measured it.) Most of the time, when we wake up, we only check to see if there is an immediate threat. Then, we go back to default mode, dismiss the new situation, and go back to unconscious autopilot. This all happens in about five seconds. If you’re not paying attention, you’ll miss it. And we miss it frequently.

Scientists call the process we use to build stories “motivated reasoning.” People get a feeling, make up a story to support that feeling, and then watch for facts to support their story. It’s a very human tendency that we apply to all kinds of facts about the environment, god, economic history, and current events. We make up stories about each other, and the story is only one-third accurate … at best. But we live by our stories. (See the book, The Truth About Denial, by Adrian Bardon, Professor at Wake Forest University.)

All of this is to say that, it behooves us to be constantly aware of our own fragility. To realize that we don’t really understand … ever. That others don’t understand us … ever. And with that realization, we need to try to enter Phase II judgment – to think twice, so we can begin to approach halfway understanding. Then we can be more patient, more tolerant, more curious about what’s really going on, and take time to listen carefully, ask questions, and maybe learn something. It could change the world.

Coronavirus should not have surprised anybody

People are surprised that coronavirus is spreading all over the world so fast. They are terrified because it’s killing a few people. Nobody expected this. Why not?

Here’s why it’s no surprise: The rapid spread of coronavirus is a manifestation of the same crisis that’s been going on for more than 50 years all over Earth. As human beings have increased their travels around the globe, their shoes and clothes and stomachs have carried microbes out of their original micro-biomes and into other ecologies where living things were unprepared and unsuspecting.

This human-borne transfer of germs, bacteria and fungi has been a major force that has wiped out whole species (alongside deliberately destructive human behaviors). A whole lot of species: It’s the Sixth Mass Extinction. It’s also called the Anthropogenic (human-caused) Extinction, because it’s known that we are causing it.

In her Pulitzer-Prize-winning book, The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History, Elizabeth Kolbert relates the story of the extinction of Panamanian Golden Frogs as a result of humans carrying a type of Chytrid fungus, not native to Panama, into the frog’s ecological niche. She then reports how various other frog species have experienced a like fate in different parts of the world, including the United States.

I was impressed at the time I read it, but it really came home to me in 2017. In my area of the Midwest, every spring is marked by the chirping of peepers. Peepers are frogs that spend the winter buried in the mud, and make a joyous peeping sound every spring as they seek their mate. Every year, I’ve heard the peepers along the creek below my house, until 2017. I was sitting in my backyard late one spring evening, and it occurred to me how quiet it was.

It wasn’t until a couple of days later that I realized, there were no peepers. I listened for weeks, and no peepers. I listened in 2018 and 2019. No peepers. Something got them. The Sixth Extinction came to my backyard.

The coronavirus is just another example of the same thing that happened to the golden frogs and the peepers, only it was much harder on the frogs.

On average, we’ve seen an astonishing 60% decline in the size of populations of mammals, birds, fish, reptiles, and amphibians in just over 40 years (since 1970), according to the World Wildlife Fund for Nature’s Living Planet Report 2018.

In fact, there’s a long history of decline in the populations of large animals as soon as humans arrive on a continent. (See below.)

A 2018 study published in PNAS found that since the dawn of human civilization, 83% of wild mammals, 80% of marine mammals, 50% of plants and 15% of fish have vanished. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holocene_extinction

The coronavirus is just another example of the ever-increasing threat of human activity on the Earth. The sixth extinction is likely to be mankind's most lasting legacy. No surprise.
The timing of extinctions follows the "march of man"
The timing of extinctions follows the "march of man": Martin P. S. (1989). Prehistoric overkill: A global model. In Quaternary extinctions: A prehistoric revolution (ed. P.S. Martin and R.G. Klein). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holocene_extinction#/media/File:Extinctions_Africa_Austrailia_NAmerica_Madagascar.gif, accessed March 9, 2020.

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Saturday, February 29, 2020

No inner stillness

It occurs to me that inner stillness is not.

The water in my jar splashes about with its own turbulence and turbidity.

My molecules of thought rise up out of nothing, pause – long enough to be noticed if I’m paying attention, and fade back into the nothingness.

But if I set my jar down, the H2O settles and becomes mostly still. Yet, the molecules continue to move unseen. Vibrations of the passing truck or distant airplane are reflected in them. Heat from the sun moves them. Even the normally unnoticed shifts in gravity give them a stir.

The universal field flows around and through my molecules, undetectable as long as my water is splashing. But if I set myself down, momentarily, my awareness will settle down through the coarse waves of the crowd, the buzz of mills; down through the whisper of winds and the rush rush of my blood; down to the electromagnetic fields of the sun and of the earth’s resonant field; and I become one with the universe.

And I realize that my inner movement never ceases, but only splashes about to a different influence, that finer ebb and flow of the universal field. And there, at the least point, is the present moment where I finally sense the substantial light of the expanse shifting to and fro, the flow stretching thin to virtual nothingness and the vortices attracting and concentrating matter into being.

Into this ocean I set my calm jar and release my molecules – the form of my single-minded thought – into nothingness which is everything everywhere. A little while, and my molecules begin to swirl, to attract others, to concentrate force and substance, until I am surprised by my jar leaping back out of the ocean and – along with it comes my thought form in full physical manifestation to dance with me.

So, it seems that there is no inner stillness. There is only a matching of the wave’s droplet back into the ocean; and the ocean spits it back upon the shore – with its driftwood – for a while, to be taken anew another day.

Friday, January 17, 2020

Does the Law of Attraction really work?

Of course, it does. And everybody is always using it whether they realize it or not. But how can you make it work for you? That can be a challenge. Yet a little study and a little practice, and you can do it.

For example, everybody has experienced that, when they buy a car, they start noticing the same make, model and color on the road everywhere. That’s the Law of Attraction working on a very fundamental level. This basic instance is simply your mind being focused on – pleased with – your new purchase. So, your eyes become vigilant to see what you are meditating on. Yes, you are meditating: You are thinking and feeling positive about this object. So, you see it everywhere.

The same thing happens when you apply the Law of Attraction consciously. You think about some object or circumstance, and you feel the wonder of it as though it already exists; and pretty quickly you start noticing little instances of that object or circumstance. That can grow into the reality of it appearing into your life.

Fundamentals

How does that work? It’s the story of physics. (Not the math and science of physics. The story of physics.) Once you understand this, you’ll understand how to make the Law of Attraction work for you.

The universe is filled with energy: The universal energy field. It’s everywhere, in everything; and even exists in the emptiest parts of outer space. Energy is always vibrating, waving, flowing, spiraling, and spinning in vortexes. These vortexes naturally pair up in double helixes (the shape of DNA). The forces inside the double helix sucks energy down its middle and concentrates it. Concentrated energy becomes matter. Now, that’s simplistic, but it’s a story of explanation, not science.

Now, let’s shift perspective from the fantastically vast to the inconceivably small. Scientists have been teasing out and identifying the tiniest particles, called quantum particles. These are the particles that make up the protons, neutrons and electrons in an atom. Quantum particles are so small that, if one was the size of your index finger, the energy field surrounding it would extend all the way out past Jupiter. It takes three of these particles to make a proton, and three more to make a neutron. These things are tiny!

But more to the point, they take up vast amounts of space by virtue of their energy fields, which are empty of matter except for the miniscule particle. That’s a lot of space. You probably heard your teacher talk about how an atom is mostly space. When we touch a table or chair, it is actually just the energy fields resisting each other. They’ll tell you that we don’t really exist, because we’re more than 99.99999% space. But I want you to realize that all that space is filled with energy.

The entire universe is full of energy, including the energy that makes you. And the energy is always moving. You were expecting certainty? There is no certainty. Everything changes all the time.

Now, that brings us to meditation. We do meditation to help us recognize that there is no certainty. The point is that, we create mental constructs about what we think is real, so that we can have something firm to understand. But that is all illusion. We are energy beings, and energy is always flowing through us and around us and between us.

Some masters will tell you that nothing is real. This is why they say that. At its most fundamental, the physical part of reality is virtually non-existent. Reality is a vast amount of space filled with energy. You need to contemplate this for the next nine months to just get a clue as to how fluid and uncertain reality is. Just give up all your expectations and thoughts and feelings about thoughts. Empty yourself of all mental constructs and illusions. Vacate the lie that the universe is physical. The physical part is insignificant compared to how much energy there is.

So, that’s the first part of this: Belief. You can believe in a physical universe, or you can learn to work with the Law of Attraction, which is all about energy. Energy moves to create circumstances. Energy condenses to become matter. Matter is energy. E = mc2.  

Next Step

Once we are empty of preconceptions, expectations, thoughts and emotional junk – once we are empty – then we need to understand the nature of our energy being.

For more than 300 years now, our culture has formed around Isaac Newton’s version of a physical world, where objects are separate from each other and bounce off of each other like billiard balls. With the advent of quantum physics, we now realize that everything is made out of vibrating energy. As the famous theoretical physicist Richard Feynman said, “Everything jiggles.”

Energy condenses to create matter, but it is still basically vibrating energy. Since all matter is vibrating within a universal energy field, it is sending out waves into the field. Our bodies are doing the same thing, and even our brains and hearts are sending waves into the aether around us. The HeartMath Institute in California has done research that shows the brain and the heart each produce a certain amount of energy in the form of an electromagnetic field.

“The heart generates the largest electromagnetic field in the body,” according to HeartMath Institute Director of Research Rollin McCraty. “The electrical field as measured in an electrocardiogram (ECG) is about 60 times greater in amplitude than the brain waves recorded in an electroencephalogram (EEG).”

The heart, like the brain, generates a powerful electromagnetic field, according to McCraty. HeartMath studies show this powerful electromagnetic field can be detected and measured several feet away from a person's body and between two individuals in close proximity.

You may have noticed this when you’ve been alone in a room, and suddenly, you realize – without seeing or hearing anything – that another person has entered the room. The human body generates an electromagnetic field that interacts with others. That human field is energy extending feet beyond the skin. You extend beyond your skin.

In meditation, we can calm our brain and heart down to the point where we can sense this energy flowing through and around us. However, this high state of sensitive awareness is not the most astounding thing.

By synchronizing our brain and heart energies in meditation, our electromagnetic field changes. Not only that, in meditation, our DNA changes. Since we can consciously change our personal fields, we can send a new kind of wave into the universe.

In fact, the Coptic Gospel of Thomas refers to this single-mindedness of unifying the brain and heart:
“Jesus said to them, "When you make the two one, and when you make the inside like the outside and the outside like the inside, and the above like the below, … a likeness in place of a likeness; then will you enter the kingdom. (verse 22) " Also, see verses 48 and 106.

The idea behind the Law of Attraction is that, by bringing the heart and brain – feelings and thoughts – into a singular energy, human beings can broadcast energy waves that interact with the universal energy field. This creates a form or a coherent pattern for whatever we desire. That consciously held, coherent pattern then naturally draws the object or circumstance of matching energy frequency into our life.

You have experienced this unifying of brain and heart when you have “connected” with a person across the room. Human beings have been doing this unconsciously from ancient times without really realizing what we were doing. Now, we do so consciously with practice, with a pretty good idea of how we form our life – our circumstances – by holding our singular desire, by interacting with each other to magnify the energy, and painting that pattern in the universal energy. Amazing! 

– Christopher Aune