Income Inequity. The Real Reason the Rich Get Richer. ©

Income inequity has been in the news of late; disparity is increasing.  Jared Bernstein, of the Economic Policy Institute, wrote of this in,  “The Catch-Up Economy.”  Paul Krugman, a writer-economist for the New York Times shared his views in “Left Behind Economics.”  Economics Professor J. Bradford DeLong comments on the subject.  However, it seems to me that the views of these learned economists are limited.  While assessing the statistics, I think experts miss the substance, what lies behind simple “economic” causes and effects.

For years, scholars have discussed whether the situation has changed or remained the same.  They discuss cause and effects.  Intellectuals say the middle class is shrinking.  The prosperous are not growing capital as expected.  The “super-rich” are becoming wealthier.  Academicians and regular Americans alike wonder, what are we to do?

Welfare is reformed and the results are devastating.  Proposals are submitted to increase the minimum wage.  Yet, this solution was too little too late.  It was also tied to amendments that would ravage federal revenues and thankfully, or not, the measure did not pass.  People ponder the discrepancy between rich and poor as though it were unusual; however, for me, this subject is not a novel one.

It has been on my mind for as long as I can remember.  I was born into a household of means; however, the family that cared for me, the people I felt closest to lived the inner city.  I spent much time traveling from one neighborhood to the other.  The disparity was striking.  As a child, I began to theorize, what caused such a discrepancy.  Why were the rich so prosperous and the poor so impoverished?  Why did they not intermingle freely?

Being intimately a part of two very different worlds simultaneously, my mind was stimulated; questions flooded my reality.  Fortunately, I was encouraged to think about my concerns and ask of these.  My earliest memory was of the streets, which ones were used when and by whom.  I was well aware that freeways were the preferred passageways for the affluent.  Expressways allowed for a free-flow of traffic.  There were few if any visual distractions.  The highways were walled off from the city.  Slums were not seen; nor were those living there heard from.  As the affluent passed through town, all was a blur.

Those with lower incomes were more likely found on the slower urban streets.  I often heard how dangerous the metropolitan thoroughfares were.  Yet, I played on those avenues when with my second family.  I lived there for days at a time.  People were always pleasant to me.  There was a sense of community in these ghetto boulevards.  Still, the well-off avoided these roadways.  I concluded the rich did not wish to see the poor.  They did not want to be reminded of what they had created and allowed to flourish.

The moneyed preferred to believe that all were thriving, just as they were; thus, they created a world that allowed them their beliefs.  However, in truth a large portion of society was barely able to survive.  In fact, I think the affluent knew this, and purposely, conveniently chose to ignore it.  They knew that they had imposed their reality on the poorer public in order to prosper.

The rich understood they needed the poor to serve them.  A less-well-informed, undereducated, underprivileged population could and would meet the needs of the affluent.  Those born with silver spoons in their mouths trusted that they would associate with the proper people.  They would be groomed, breed, and grow greater.  The rich would learn how to build empires and indeed, they have.

It is my contention that the most affluent among us centuries ago established a system that they knew was flawed; nevertheless, it endured.  I think, the idea of scarcity, supply and demand breeds a world divided.  This economic theory presumes there is only so much to go around; resources are limited.  Therefore, those that have, horde, and those without, want.  All are dissatisfied, thinking there is never enough, though in truth, there is.

Man creates deficits and depletes resources; nature replenishes continually.

For the most part, the poor have been unwittingly satisfied to just pass.  In earlier eons, the poor and middle class were not punished so severely for their station.  There was a time when those of lesser means still had hope and some were able to do well and move out of poverty, though their numbers were always kept in check.

A modicum of security, with the potential for limited growth quelled the masses.  As a consequence of the freight experienced during the Great Depression Americans embraced the approach of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.  Even the wealthy were willing to accept the initiation of Public Work programs.  More people were able to have a scrap of safety.  After all, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

As revealed by Journalist Teresa Tritch in The Rise of the Super-Rich,

In post-World War II America, between 1947 and the early 1970’s, all income groups shared in the nation’s economic growth.  Poor families actually had a higher growth in real annual income than other groups.

Still, they remained humble and subservient.  Most felt well taken care of.  Businesses offered benefits, and the government was a supposed friend, or so it seemed.  Employees were loyal to those that served them, not realizing, in truth, they, the laborers were servicing the master.  For without a working force there was no wealth for the entrepreneur.

In those post-World War II years, labor and productivity increased.  Workers produced more materials.  Corporations were generous with their profits.  The economy grew and entrepreneurs were willing to share.  Actually, the government demanded this.

Government policies worked to ensure that productivity gains translated into more pay for Americans at all levels, including regular increases in the minimum wage and greater investment in the social safety net . . . Full employment was also a government priority.

Fair wages, generous salaries, and reasonable benefits were given to employees.  Laborers were recognized for their worth.  A happy worker is and was a good worker.  A satisfied staff would serve the customers well.  The businessmen and women would benefit; corporate owners would reap the greatest rewards.

In those years, unions were a driving force.  Workers had bargaining power.  Of course, that was before the Reagan reign, and prior to his presidential dictums, those that promoted union busting.

Then beginning in the

mid-1970’s until 1995, the trend reversed.  The gap between the rich and poor widened at a rapid clip.  The upper echelons ?” generally the top 20 percent of American households ?” experienced steady gains, while families in the bottom 40 percent were faced with declining or stagnating incomes.

Once again the planets were aligned, or at least an ancient economic theory was.

For centuries, there was a well-known belief that twenty percent of the population owned eighty percent of the wealth.  In 1906 one man, Italian Economist Vilfredo Pareto created a mathematical formula to describe the unequal distribution of dollars that he observed within his own country.  Later that code would be named the Pareto’s Principle.  This principle presupposed that there was only a given amount of assets.  These limited treasures must be divided among the masses.  However, because the supply was small and the rich already retained much of the wealth that was, there was little leftover for those of lesser means.  As the population increased the prosperous became more so; they understood the rule of 72.

This canon is evident in recent reports.

Rich people are also being made richer, recent government data shows, by strong returns on investment income.  In 2003, the latest year for which figures are available, the top 1 percent of households owned 57.5 percent of corporate wealth, generally [realized as] dividends, and capital gains, up from 53.4 percent a year earlier.

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a Washington think tank, compared the latest data from Mr. Piketty and Mr. Saez to comprehensive reports on income trends from the Congressional Budget Office.  Every way it sliced the data, it found a striking share of total income concentrated at the top of the income ladder as of 2004.

• The top 10 percent of households had 46 percent of the nation’s income, their biggest share in all but two of the last 70 years.

• The top 1 percent of households had 19.5 percent (see graph).

• The top one-tenth of 1 percent of households actually received nearly half of the increased share going to the top 1 percent.

Whether we speak of centuries past or the present, the poor continue to pound the pavement.  They were, and are, searching for their lump of salt.

In America, the Puritan work ethic feed and feeds the folly of scarcity, sacrifice, and service well.  The standard suggests

a Calvinist value emphasizing the necessity of constant labor in one’s calling as a sign of personal salvation.  Protestants beginning with Martin Luther had re-conceptualized work as a duty in the world for the benefit of the individual and society as a whole.  The Catholic idea of good “works” was transformed into an obligation to work diligently as a sign of grace.

  However, few noticed that the most well-off worked little.  They had and have servants, slaves, and subordinates.  For many of the moneyed, wealth was and is handed down.  The truly well-to-do worked and labor little; yet it was believed and thought true today, they are superior and certainly would be well received at the Pearly Gates.

It was and is the majority population, the masses that labor diligently.  The poor and the middle class hope to get ahead.  At least they yearn to stay solvent.  The middle and lower classes sweat, they slave, they survive, and looked forward to salvation.  They do this while the wealthiest continue to reap greater gains from their toil [capital gains.]

It seems obvious that the populace has adopted a misleading notion, that there is only so much to go around, or they believe that they must pay their dues before they can prosper.  It seems to me that people, for the most part accept their station, and expect others to recognize theirs.

Those of color, minority races, ethnicities, or creeds rarely are given opportunities to excel; nor do they truly and deeply believe they will be able to do so in a society such as ours.  Individuals in the middle, as few as there are nowadays, are gratified when they have enough.  They expect little more than meets their needs.  They have been taught not to crave more than creature comforts.  They learned their lessons well.  The wealthiest among us are the masses mentors.

In 1906, Italy, and in America today, I think poverty is imposed.  Scarcity is supported; the idea of abundance for all is avoided, intentionally.

I have actually heard many prosperous persons speak of their need and desire to keep the poor, poor.  Thus, I present my personal theory for your “consumption.”  I think until we truly address the issue of attitudes, and more importantly, the perception of scarcity, nothing will change.

I believe this myth was originated within the world to preserve opulence for the few.  The fable has long been maintained by “superior” beings.  The blue-bloods believe they are deserving.  Thus, they deem it just.  The poor and impoverished must sacrifice their souls while working in meaningless jobs; they must spill their blood while the rich wage war and they do.

I proclaim the legend is not true.  There is abundance for all.  Let us look at nature.

If we enter the ocean and exit with a bucket full of water, we will leave no hole.  The space we made will be filled instantly.  If we scoop up a pail of sand, no void will be visible.  Within minutes the wind, the water, and Mother Nature herself will replenish what we took away.  Granted we can strip the land naked.  Nevertheless, we cannot kill it, though human beings certainly try.

A polluted pond will produce algae in abundance.  Life grows.  A concrete highway will not seal away the weeds.  Look between the cracks.  Consider the bugs, the vermin, and viruses.  Man tries to kill these; yet, they never truly die.  More emerge where others once existed.

You may question my thinking and suggest our limited supply of oil.  I offer this.  Were it not for man’s spoils, his need to accelerate the depletion/reproduction cycle within his surroundings, the Earth would be replenishing the petroleum supply.  Actually, it is.  We simply steal from the source before it can create greater resources.

The super rich have created the illusion of scarcity and we all believe it.  They have sold society this package of goods and we buy it.  Those that live lavishly have created a civilization of consumerism.  They need us and we want to be them.

However, contrary to popular belief, I think a world of disparity devastates our social order.  I have little complaint for the rich getting richer.  I struggle with the poor getting poorer, and the comfortable middle becoming less so.  Again, I contend there is abundance for us all.

I invite you to explore.  Please take some time to assess life, the real world of plenty, and the artificial world of scarcity.  Observe it from an alternative perspective.  I ask you to be cogent; are you accepting and expecting less because you were taught, “you should.”

Please witness nature and absorb the wisdom.  Watch the plants, the animals, the insects, the water, the sand, and see for yourself.  Ponder the prospect.  Were it not for the influence of man would resources be in balance, reproducing and reducing only to ensure stability and beauty?  I think they would.  Oh, what we do and have done.  Then we wonder why is there income inequity.  We continually create it.

~ You may enjoy discussions on the New York Times article, Real Wages Fail to Match a Rise in Productivity, By Steven Greenhouse and David Leonhardt. August 28, 2006.
• Brad DeLong offers, Greenhouse and Leonhardt on Real Wages and Productivity
• Max Sawicky presents The Poverty of Pedantry
• Mark Thoma tenders Paul Krugman: Wages, Wealth and Politics

Plunge into Poverty, Pass into a Life of Simple Pleasures, or Seek the Land of Plenty . . .

The Catch-Up Economy, By Jared Bernstein. The Economic Policy Institute. August 22, 2006
Left Behind Economics; [Op-Ed], ByPaul Krugman. New York Times. July 14, 2006
Jared Bernstein, Economic Policy Institute.
The Official Paul Krugman Web Page
J. Bradford DeLong
Pulling Apart, A State-by-State Analysis of Income Trends. By Jared Bernstein, Elizabeth McNichol, Karen Lyons. Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and The Economic Policy Institute. January 2006
Driving Forces Behind Rising Income Inequality: Tracking the Internet Debate, By Brad DeLong, Economist. August 20, 2006
Welfare Deform — A Sad Anniversary, By Robert Reich, Former Secretary of Labor. August 23, 2006
Real Wages Fail to Match a Rise in Productivity, By Steven Greenhouse and David Leonhardt. New York Times. August 28, 2006
The Rise of the Super-Rich, By Teresa Tritch. New York Times.July 19, 2006
Wages, Wealth And Politics; [Op-Ed], ByPaul Krugman. New York Times. August 18, 2006
Paul Krugman: Wages, Wealth and Politics, By Mark Thoma. Economist’s View. August 18, 2006
Rural Oregon Town Feels Pinch of Poverty, By Erik Eckholm. New York Times. August 20, 2006
As rich-poor gap widens in U.S., class mobility stalls,By David Wessel, The Wall Street Journal. Friday, May 13, 2005
Protestant Work Ethic. Wikipedia.
Scarcity. Wikipedia.
Dividend and Capital Gains Tax Cuts Unlikely to Yield Touted Economic Gains, By Joel Friedman. Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Revised October 7, 2005
Pareto’s Principle – The 80-20 Rule. About.
The Rule of 72, By Joshua Kennon. About.
Supply and Demand. Internet Center for Management and Business Administration, Incorporated.
Economics Basics: Demand and Supply Investopedia Incorporated.
“The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business Is Selling Less of More”,The 98 Percent Rule. By Chris Anderson. USA Today. July 11, 2006
Richest Are Leaving Even the Rich Far Behind, By David Cay Johnston. New York Times. June 5, 2005

Facts, Fictions, Feuds, Fallacies, and Fun ©

I received an interesting electronic correspondence, a means for finding direction.  Dear reader, I am offering a political compass or a practical guide.  I endeavor to help each of us find truth, myself included.

I observe, healthy or not, humans characteristically categorize persons, places, and philosophies.  They consider their beliefs correct.  The viewpoints of others are flawed.  Conventional wisdoms prosper.  Individuals and groups are certain they are “right”; their truth is reality.  What others regard as prudent is said to be “just plain wrong.”  Yet how do we know; are we able to comprehend what is beyond our belief.  I suspect few try.  Nevertheless, I hope to provide opportunities for exploration or reflection.

I have long been fascinated and frustrated by what we [you and I] think of as fact.  I recognize that my truth is often your fiction.  I acknowledge that people [yes, you and sadly, I] punish each other in their attempt to prove them selves correct.  There are those that will go to war over principles that they think are proper, perfect, or profound.  I think this is pure folly.

While I may agree with the principles that a particular warrior professes, I do not think there is ever a need for a physical fracas.  I barely believe in verbal violence.  Actually, for me, oral or written flame wars serve no purpose.  I advocate crucial conversations.  I understand that individuals often disagree; however, I think they need not debate to the point of destruction.

I strongly believe that dialogue is vital.  I experience that if we no not discuss our differences, empathy and understanding will remain elusive.  These concepts have been hidden for so long, perhaps, since the beginning of time.  Still, I have hope.  I believe that we can communicate and unite.

I recognize compassion and convergence are achieved only when individuals are open to opinions that differ from their own.  Nevertheless, I suspect if we at least accept the premise that facts are fictions, the frequency of silly feuds will dwindle.

Therefore, I offer the following survey for fun.  It is my futile attempt to advance awareness.

I trust there are those that think there is a singular reality.  They believe in a simple truth.  Numerous individuals judge “facts” as indisputable.  I do not.  I recognize that my truth is my own, even if it closely parallels that of Stalin, Hitler, Milton Friedman, Margaret Thatcher, or Gandhi.

Thus, I ask, what is your reality?  What are you certain of?  Are you willing to acknowledge that your facts may be my fiction or do you prefer to deny the validity of my data?  Are you prepared to accept that the world is fluid?

Might you consider that only this week we learned that what was established veracity and thought verifiable is no longer considered definitive or truth.  Consider the recent relegation of the “planet” Pluto.

Perhaps you prefer to ponder the subject of the sun.  Century’s ago people were convinced the Earth was the center of the universe, or at least this heavenly body was the most significant within the Milky Way.  In the sixteenth century, Nicolaus Copernicus theorized the sun was our life source; however, many thought him a fool.  The Heliocentric System was not widely recognized or revered; in “fact,” it was rejected.  Almost, a century later, Galileo was excommunicated for promoting similar assumptions.  Yet, today, we know, or think we do, that not every entity revolves around us.

Perchance there is more to learn.  Might life be different than we imagined?  I invite you to please take the plunge with me.  Dive deeply into a realm of reality that that differs from your own.  Pursue possibilities and delight in pleasures that were once unimaginable.

If you did not yet play with the Political Compass, please do so.  I think you will find the pursuit quite interesting.

A concept is stronger than a fact. ~ Charlotte P. Gillman [1860-1935, Leading Writer on Women Rights]

A fact in itself is nothing.  It is valuable only for the idea attached to it, or the proof which it furnishes. ~ Claude Bernard [1813-1878 Leading French Physiologist]

Please review Political Compasses, Pluto, and other Possibilities . . .

Welcome to The Political Compass?™
Pragmatic theory of truth. Wikipedia
Correspondence theory of truth. Wikipedia
Rethinking the Solar System,The Numbers Guy, By Carl Bialik. Wall Street Journal. August 25, 2006
Dinky Pluto Loses Its Status As Planet, By William J. Kole. Associated Press Writer. Chicago Tribune. August 24, 2006
Nicolaus Copernicus. Biographies.
The Heliocentric Theory. Warfare of Science with Theology.  Chapter III: Astronomy
Galileo Galilei. The Catholic Encyclopedia.
The Elegant Universe, String Theory.  Nova.  Public Broadcasting Services.
The Political Compass?¢ Questionnaire.  Please Read the Homepage first.

Evolutionary Biology Lost By Design; Scientific-Creationism Rises? ©

© copyright 2006 Betsy L. Angert
Evolutionary Biology has fallen out of favor in America.  Currently, it is not listed an acceptable major for low-income college students seeking financial assistance.  Intelligent Design is a popular pursuit and belief in this country today.  For quite some time, a majority of Kansas State School Board members advanced the study of scientific creationism.  Recently however, the tide turned.  The Red sea parted and the balance was shifted.  An earlier 6 to 4 majority was reversed.  Still, there is little reason to rejoice.  This Renaissance occurred before and likely, we will witness it again.

In 2000, the state regional panel of science-based creationist eliminated the study of evolutionary science.  The public panicked.  In the following election year, the people brought about their own evolution.  They voted the 6 to 4 Intelligent Design board out and installed a council that supported Scientific Theory.  However, again the balance of power was tentative.  The new board majority was 6 to 4.  Still, with this reversal the core curriculum was restored.  “Science” survived.  Yet, it is clear, history tells us fluctuation is fluid.  Creationists come, and science goes.  The evolutionary progression of panel members is not etched in stone.  It is pliant.

However, the information engraved in computer chip is stable, or so it seems.  This data effects many.  Though it can be changed, for now, Evolutionary Biology has disappeared from the Department of Education databases.  The subject is no longer listed as an accepted study for struggling college students wishing to receive a federal grant.

It is true this reality can change with the help of humans.  It takes time, effort, and desire.  Creatures created in the image of G-d, must care to construct a varying truth.  Transformation is often slow in coming.  Katherine McLane, a spokeswoman for the Department of Education, the organization that administers the grants states, “There is no explanation for it being left off the list.  It has always been an eligible major.”  Nevertheless, for now it is gone.

Samara Yudof, another representative for the Department reassured journalists and university scholars.  She vowed evolutionary biology would return to the list.  However, according to New York Times reporter Cornelia Dean, “as of last night it was still missing.”

This “minor” mishap might not be of concern, mistakes are easily made; nevertheless considering the climate and the current Bush administration, there is reason for concern.

Our “fair” President, just as the people he serves, thinks G-d guided the process of creation.  Sixty-seven percent of those that voted for George W. Bush believe God created humans in their present form.  Forty-five out of every hundred Bush backers think that evolution need not be taught.  However, creationism must be part of the curriculum.  Mr. Bush advocates the causes of his Religious Right supporters and has changed policies to advance their agenda.

Scientists know this.  They find this reality troubling.  There are ample “threats to the teaching of evolution.”  A physicist at Case Western Reserve University, Lawrence M. Krauss, is well aware of this.  Professor Krauss said he discovered the omission of Evolutionary Biology from the master list quite unexpectedly. After an anonymous employee at the Department of Education contacted the physicist, he wrote an essay, which appeared in The New York Times on August 15, 2006.  The Krauss article addressed the necessity of teaching evolution.  “Dr. Krauss would not name his source.”  The Department staff member expressed his concern for being publicly identified.  He did not want to draw “attention to the matter.”  Nevertheless, suspicions and reasons for trepidation are mounting.

Scientists who knew about the omission also said they found the clerical explanation unconvincing, given the furor over challenges by the religious right to the teaching of evolution in public schools.  “It’s just awfully coincidental,” said Steven W. Rissing, an evolutionary biologist at Ohio State University.

Jeremy Gunn, who directs the Program on Freedom of Religion and Belief at the American Civil Liberties Union, said that if the change was not immediately reversed “we will certainly pursue this.”

It is well known that those categorized as the Religious Right are strong supporters of this President.  In August 2005, Baby Bush told Texas newspaper reporters that he believes that Intelligent Design should be taught in conjunction with evolution.  The boy Bush enthusiastically proclaimed, “Both sides ought to be properly taught . . . so people can understand what the debate is about.”

The “debate” is a not a discussion by any means.  It is a dispute of infinite proportions.  Those advocating Intelligent Design maintain that “evolutionary science” is a fallacy. 

For one thing, I.D. is not Biblical literalism.  Unlike earlier generations of creationists?”the so-called Young Earthers and scientific creationists?”proponents of intelligent design do not believe that the universe was created in six days, that Earth is ten thousand years old, or that the fossil record was deposited during Noah’s flood.  (Indeed, they shun the label “creationism” altogether.)  Nor does I.D. flatly reject evolution: adherents freely admit that some evolutionary change occurred during the history of life on Earth.  Although the movement is loosely allied with, and heavily funded by, various conservative Christian groups?”and although I.D. plainly maintains that life was created?”it is generally silent about the identity of the creator.

The movement’s main positive claim is that there are things in the world, most notably life, that cannot be accounted for by known natural causes and show features that, in any other context, we would attribute to intelligence.  Living organisms are too complex to be explained by any natural?”or, more precisely, by any mindless?”process.  Instead, the design inherent in organisms can be accounted for only by invoking a designer, and one who is very, very smart.

Smart indeed, clever constituents, proponents of religious policies and teachings are mounting their campaigns throughout the nation.

Proposals hostile to evolution are being considered in more than twenty states; earlier this month, a bill was introduced into the New York State Assembly calling for instruction in intelligent design for all public-school students.  The Kansas State Board of Education is weighing new standards, drafted by supporters of intelligent design that would encourage schoolteachers to challenge Darwinism.

Senator Rick Santorum, a Pennsylvania Republican, has argued that “intelligent design is a legitimate scientific theory that should be taught in science classes.”  An I.D.-friendly amendment that he sponsored to the No Child Left Behind Act?”requiring public schools to help students understand why evolution “generates so much continuing controversy”?”was overwhelmingly approved in the Senate.  (The amendment was not included in the version of the bill that was signed into law, but similar language did appear in a conference report that accompanied it.)  In the past few years, college students across the country have formed Intelligent Design and Evolution Awareness chapters.

Thus I ask, is there reason for concern?  Is a clerical error merely that?  My intent is not to advance a conspiracy theory.  I only wish to “create” awareness.  I think the science behind evolutionary theory is sound.  I trust that is only my opinion.  However, in a world where those that represent the “superpower” repeatedly reiterates, “You are either with us or against us,”  I wonder what will happen to other theories that do not parallel those of our President. Will the hard drive mysterious be erased and replaced with a “Brave New World” hatchery?

Intellectually Design your Evolution.  Study the science and sources . . .

  • Bush Remarks On ‘Intelligent Design’ Theory Fuel Debate, By Peter Baker and Peter Slevin. Washington Post. Wednesday, August 3, 2005
  • Evolution Major Vanishes From Approved Federal List, By Cornealia Dean. The New York Times. August 24, 2006
  • How to Make Sure Children Are Scientifically Illiterate, By Lawrence M. Krauss. The New York Times. August 15, 2006
  • Did Humans Evolve? Not Us, Say Americans. The New York Times. August 15, 2006
  • Devolution; Why intelligent design isn’t. By H. Allen Orr.  The New Yorker.Issue of May 30, 2005. Posted May 23, 2005
  • George W. Bush, The Last Relativist, By Timothy Noah. Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2000
  • New scrutiny of role of religion in Bush’s policies, By Jane Lampman. The Christian Science Monitor. March 17, 2003
  • Bush’s Religious Language, By Juan Stam. The Nation. December 4, 2003
  • Poll: Creationism Trumps Evolution. CBS News. November 22, 2004
  • Bush Evolution Remarks Generate Wide Media Coverage, By Cindy Workosky. August 8, 2005
  • Bush rallies support for ‘faith-based’ services package. Inside Politics. CNN News. January 30, 2001
  • The Evolution Debate; Complete Coverage. The New York Times.
  • Teach the Controversy, Rick Santorum, Senator, Pennsylvania Republican. January 14, 2005
  • Intelligent Design Network. Seeking Objectivity in Origins Science
  • A Scientific Dissent From Darwinism.  Discovery Institute.

    For a good discussion of the topic, you may wish to study a Mark Thoma dialogue.  Please visit, Economist View, More Whining on Intelligent Designing?

  • Poll Reveals Public Perception; Iraq Had Weapons of Mass Destruction ©

    Public opinion polls are again called into question.  President Bush boasts he does not pay attention to these studies.  In 1999, candidate Bush criticized Former President Clinton and presidential aspirant Albert Gore for exalting such silly surveys.  As his numbers slip daily, Bush 43 reminds us, he has no time for following such tomfoolery.  George W. Bush is a man that thinks for him self.  Our resolute ruler trusts; he knows what is best for the country and for the world.

    Mr. Bush is not an anomaly.  According to a July 21, 2006, Harris Poll® most Americans prefer their personal perceptions to facts.  They are not necessarily convinced by news reports, if the perspective differs from their own.  Humphrey Taylor, Chairman of the Harris Poll, spoke of this in a recent interview with Journalist Bob Garfield of “On the Media” fame.  In this dialogue Mr. Taylor proclaimed, currently fifty percent of Americans are convinced; Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.  They believe this despite all evidence to the contrary.

    In a 16-month investigation, costing $900-million-plus, U.S. inspectors, from the Iraq Survey Group concluded, “Iraq had effectively dismantled its chemical, biological, and nuclear arms programs in 1991.”  However, this mattered not to 50% of the general public.

    In a 2002 to 2003 investigation, United Nations inspectors found there was no trace of the banned armories in Iraq.  Nevertheless, Americans chose not to acknowledge this finding.

    Taylor claimed cognitive dissonance set in.  Citizens were not comfortable when confronted with information that conflicted with what they wished to perceive as reality.

    Apparently, Americans, along with the rest of the humanity, are known to transform facts to suit their fiction.  There are moments when photographs and personal accounts weigh on the minds of many and opinions do change.  According to Mr. Taylor, in February 2005, we saw such a case.  Then, only thirty-six percent of the United States public thought Iraq had a significant arsenal in 2003, the year the war began.  Actual facts and figures began to filter in.  The public was growing tired of this protracted war.

    Then, circumstances changed.  Citizens were given reason to believe as they once did.  In June 2006, weeks before the most recent Harris Poll®, Republican Senator Rick Santorum, of Pennsylvania, and Republican Representative Peter Hoekstra, of Michigan, introduced information that may have influenced many and might have shaded the results of this study.

    These two revered Congresspersons persuaded the public; their personal support of the war was justified.  The combat-happy hawks revealed more than 500 munitions were located in the fields of Iraq; specifically “sarin and mustard-filled projectiles” were found.  Though the data was ancient, and the containers were no longer potent, the information proved to be powerful.  Propaganda often is.

    Reports of these missiles affected the public deeply.  For many Americans, knowledge of such armory was refreshing; it justified their earlier assumptions.  After hearing members of Congress espouse such statistics, many United States citizens concluded, the war with Iraq was necessary.  Given reason to believe again, the tide turned.  Americans again acknowledged there was reason for destruction.

    Thus, in July, weeks after the Santorum/Hoekstra media circus, half of the respondent to the Harris Poll felt confident; weapons of mass destruction were abundant in Iraq before we began our “unilateral” attack.  Numerous individuals believed there is a significant armory then and these munitions might be available to serve the Iraqi insurgents well today, or is it Iran that is well positioned to strike.

    According to Chairman Taylor, conveniently, many Americans do not know the difference between Iraq and Iran.  When they hear that Iran might be building a nuclear arsenal, they are enriching uranium, or that Iran is a threat, Americans deduce, the same must be true of Iraq.  After all, to many US citizens, a Middle Eastern Muslim is a Middle Eastern Muslim, even when they are not.  Most of us have heard the words, “They all look alike to me.”

    It is for this reason that contemptuous concepts thrive.  As Senator Santorum and Representative Hoekstra fumed, the media mentioned,

    The Pentagon and outside experts stressed that these abandoned shells, many found in ones and twos, were 15 years old or more, their chemical contents were degraded, and they were unusable as artillery ordnance.  Since the 1990s, such “orphan” munitions, from among 160,000 made by Iraq and destroyed, have turned up on old battlefields and elsewhere in Iraq, ex-inspectors say.  In other words, this was no surprise.

    “These are not stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction,” said Scott Ritter, the ex-Marine who was a U.N. inspector in the 1990s.  “They weren’t deliberately withheld from inspectors by the Iraqis.”

      Nevertheless, the narrative gained speed.

    Conservative Commentator Deroy Murdock wrote of the Hoekstra pronouncement in his syndicated column.  This right-winged Journalist spoke of the same in an interview.  He stated, the media “didn’t give the story the play it deserved.”  Reactionaries gave the tale banner headlines.  Fox News led with saga of the stray missile shells on their evening broadcast.  Talk-radio hosts and their callers cultivated the information.  Neoconservative blogs were aflame with commentary.  The report of sarin gas explosives in Iraq solidified as it entered the minds of Middle America.

    Those that initially supported the Iraqi war effort felt validated.  The not-too-silent-silent-majority experienced vindication.  Many in the United States were pleased as punch; their earlier assertions could again be considered accurate.  Never mind that they were not.  State your truth (big lie theory) often enough, and others will believe.

    Thus, upon hearing the ancient claims of Santorum and Hoekstra, hawkish hysterics were able to believe they were correct, then and now.  Combat was clearly called for.  America needed to overthrow a lying regime regardless of how chaotic this crisis has been.  Despite the many innocent civilian lives lost, Rick Santorum and Peter Hoekstra gave Americans reason to trust; they were, right and correct after all.

    It seems, according to Harris Poll® Chairman Taylor, this phenomenon is not uncommon.  Facts be damned; the fallacy of fiction often flourishes.  People prefer their own perceptions.

    In truth there are those that did and do appreciate there were not weapons in Iraq; there was no need to worry or war.  These individuals are identified as Democrats.  Humphrey Taylor explains,

    We have a striking difference, first of all, between Republicans and Democrats — 74 percent of Republicans but only 29 percent of Democrats actually believe that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.  [There is an] increasing polarization in this country, and not only are the public polarized, they also tend to read and watch different media.  You almost have two different nations.

    We live in different nations, different states of reality, and obviously different worlds.  There are billions of us all with our own truths.  This has concerned pollsters and pundits for decades; researchers have discussed this as well.  The way in which a question is posed could skew a thoughtful response.  Canvassers ask might one phrasing elicit a more valid response than another.  The quality of respondents is an important consideration among examiners.  Are all answers created equal?

    According to this recent Harris report, none of these factors matter much.  What is most significant is apparent in the old adage; “reality is perception.”  What we believe is not dependent on facts.  Our judgments are individual.  These change little over time.  No matter what facts, figures, or specifics might suggest, humans trust what they think they know to be true.  They have faith in their own instincts.  However, many people know little and the reliability of intuition is questionable.

    Another study, a Zogby survey, searched the minds of Americans and discovered

    Three-quarters of Americans can correctly identify two of Snow White’s seven dwarfs while only a quarter can name two Supreme Court justices, according to a poll on pop culture.

    Asked what planet Superman was from, 60% named the fictional planet Krypton, while only 37% knew that Mercury is the planet closest to the sun.

    Respondents were far more familiar with the Three Stooges ?” Larry, Moe, and Curly ?” than the three branches of the U.S. government ?” judicial, executive, and legislative.  Seventy-four percent identified the slapstick act.  42% [of the public could identify] the branches [of government].

    The pollsters spoke to 1,213 people across the United States.  The results had a margin of error of 2.9 percentage points.

    Yes; reality for Americans is a strange and dubious study.

    It is doubtful that citizens in the Untied States know much more than those without access to twenty-four hour a day news reports.  In fact, it is probable that those in America know less than those elsewhere.

    In a world where many are wired, more are disconnected from reality, or so it seems.  I say that acknowledging that I know nothing.  My reality is a personal perception.

    Nevertheless, I do comprehend that the American public could be well aware of the “fact” there were no “weapons of mass destruction” in Iraq prior to our bombing a nation of innocents.

    I recognize that our countrymen could conceive of the fact that we are not safer as a nation.  Americans might realize that the Bush/Cheney Administration has done nothing to lessen the likelihood of terrorism.  Actually, they have increased it.

    I observe that citizens of the US focus on the folly, just as we are instructed to do.  I witness a populace that follows our savvy and sensational leaders.  I am cognizant of the “reality” that Americans feel certain, destructive arsenals are everywhere.  I discern, we willingly submit to searches.  We take off our shoes, empty our pockets, and diligently keep our volatile toothpaste, perfume, and cosmetics at home when we travel.  I trust that we do this because we are truly informed.  We know the dangers.  There is a diabolical plot.  WMD’s are everywhere, in Iraq, Iran, even in our perceptions.

    Perceptions and Polls, for those who wish to ponder further . . .

    Poll Track Interview. Bob Garfield, Journalist. “On the Media” August 11, 2006
    Poll Tracks. Transcripts. “On the Media”
    Belief that Iraq Had Weapons of Mass Destruction Has Increased Substantially. The Harris Poll® #57, July 21, 2006
    Humphrey Taylor, Chairman of The Harris Poll
    Belief that Iraq Had Weapons of Mass Destruction Has Increased Substantially, According to Latest Harris Poll. Yahoo News. July 21, 2006
    Does Half the U.S. Still Believe Iraq Had WMD? By Amitabh Pal. The Progressive.  AlterNet. Posted August 11, 2006
    Half of U.S. Still Believes Iraq Had WMD, By Charles J. Hanley. The Associated Press
    Document Details WMD Recovered In Iraq, Santorum Says, By Melanie Hunter. June 21, 2006
    Rick Santorum, Senator
    Pete Hoekstra, Congressman
    The Big Lie, House of Representatives. June, 18 2004
    Big Lie. Center for Media & Democracy.
    Exclusive: Scott Ritter in His Own Words, By Massiso Calabresi. Time. September 14, 2002
    • PDFExclusive: Scott Ritter in His Own Words, By Massiso Calabresi. Time. September 14, 2002
    Report: Iran Won’t Give Up Enrichment, By Ali Akbar Dareini. Associated Press. Salon. August 22,2006
    U.S. Excerpts Zogby International August 17, 2006
    US ‘better on Potter than Blair’. BBC News. Tuesday, 15 August 2006
    We Know Bart, but Homer Is Greek to Us, From Reuters.  Los Angeles Times. August 15, 2006

    Feuding Senator Stevens Cuts Funds For Brain-Injured Soldiers ©

    The tide has turned.  What was my truth only a day ago has been transformed.  The reason for funding cuts has been revealed; brain-injured soldiers will suffer at the hands of a rancorous Republican, Senator Ted Stevens.  Politically I rarely agree with syndicated Columnist Robert Novak.  Practically, I acknowledge that he has access to information that few have.  Certainly, I do not have the contacts he does.  I think it is important to honor the right of entry Mr. Novak has in the halls of Congress.  In this writing I am.

    Yesterday, in an exposé, “Stop Congress.  Billions For Bombs Not Brains ©,” I pleaded with readers.  I wrote, please communicate with your Congressperson, your local newspapers, your friends, and your family.  I asked all activist to reach out.  I expressed my concern; funding for the research and treatment of war-related brain injuries might potentially be cut.

    In my missive, I offered an appeal from Executive Director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, Paul Rieckhoff.  He, as I declared this issue is a vital concern.  That has not changed.  What has changed is my awareness.  I discovered the “logic” for this damning plan.

    Columnist Robert Novak explained in his editorial of late, why this measure was proposed.  In his essay, “Durbin earmark’s defeat no sign of reform,” Novak elucidates; members of Congress can be as childish and divisive as nations, corporate executives, Presidents and Prime Ministers.

    It seems juvenile practices and policies are evident everywhere, in every walk of life.  These effect real people, even those we purport to support, the young men and women that put their lives on the line for us, the citizens of the United States of America.  With thanks to Senator Ted Stevens brain injured soldiers will suffer needlessly though they have done nothing to harm this glory king.  Senate Democratic Whip, Dick Durbin of Illinois did, at least in the mind of a small-minded Stevens.

    It all began on November 16, 2005.  On that day, Chief Executive Officers from the nations largest oil companies were called to task, or at least an attempt was made to question their unequal truth.  Petroleum prices were soaring; people throughout the United States were upset.  Consumers were realizing the effects of a fifty percent increase in the cost of home heating oil.  The fee charged for gasoline was growing.  At that time, prices for vehicle fuel were twenty percent higher.  Oil company profits were expanding exponentially.  Citizens cried out and Congress heeded their call.

    A Senate hearing was held.  At this inquiry, Republican Senator, Ted Stevens of Alaska, the Senate President Pro Tempore and head of the Senate Commerce Committee, rejected requests from Democrats.  Stevens saw no reason to have the oil executives sworn in.  He assured the committee that these self-serving tycoons did not need to take an oath of honesty.  According to Senator Ted Stevens, the law required these corporate moguls to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth and of course, they would.

    We all know prominent petroleum executives never lie.  We have only the recent realities revealed by the British Petroleum paradox to reassure us.  This oil organization purposely neglected corroding pipes for years.  There is reason to think that possibly, BP executives paid inspectors to look away.  Nevertheless, according to Senator Stevens these ethanol entrepreneurs can be trusted.

    Forget that oil industrialists have close ties to this “right thinking” Republican Senator.  Ignore the fact that the oils fields in Alaska fill their pockets.  There is no need for concern, or such is the world according to Stevens.

    However, Senator Dick Durbin saw it differently, and said so, loudly

    On Nov. 16, 2005, Durbin took the Senate floor to attack Stevens for permitting oil company executives to lie to the Senate Commerce Committee by not putting them under oath.  Two days short of his 82nd birthday, Stevens was outraged by this assault on his integrity.

    Displaying a famous temper often seen during 37 Senate years, Stevens roared onto the floor after Durbin’s speech.  He demanded Durbin’s apology under Senate Rule 19 prohibiting senators from accusing each other of ”unworthy” behavior.  The Senate parliamentarian said the rule did not apply because Stevens was not on the floor objecting when Durbin spoke.  Durbin, who gives no quarter, declined to apologize.  He had made a formidable enemy.

    Payback time came August 2, when the Defense appropriations bill was debated under management of Stevens as Appropriations subcommittee chairman.  Durbin proposed his University of Chicago earmark to improve imaging of traumatic brain injuries.  The hook connecting this with Defense was ”adaptation of current technologies to treat brain injuries suffered in combat.”  Durbin had been turned down in Stevens’ subcommittee, but he used his access as whip to try again on the floor.  The co-sponsor — Durbin’s colleague from Illinois, Barack Obama — was nowhere to be seen for what ensued.

    Stevens was prepared.  ”We have to stop using Defense money for contracts with universities and basic research at the suggestion of a single senator,” he said.  ”Not one” official from the military community, he said, ”came to us and said we needed more money for brain research.” 

    However, I ask, do we need less?  For, if this provision passes there will be less money to sponsor research and treatment for our brain injured troops.

    Budget concerns were not weighing heavily on the mind of this fair Senator.  The brutal behavior of this Alaskan husky did not reflect a lack of support for our soldiers.  The diabolical decision to reduce resources was motivated by vengeance alone.  A vile need for retribution was the rationale behind such a reactive posture.

    For thirty-seven years, this self-centered man has seen fit to place his own, vindictive and egocentric needs above those of the people he represents.  Senator Stevens cares not for the nation, our soldiers, or his own reputation.  Retribution is his preferred cause.

    When met with an admission of guilt, Stevens revealed himself for the vengeful viper he is.  Senator Durbin stated, ‘I plead guilty; it is an earmark,” and pork-barreling Stevens marched on.  Stevens said, ”We had a total of $3 billion in requests from this subcommittee for medical research from other senators.  We turned them all down.  The senator from Illinois wouldn’t take ‘no [for an answer].”  Stevens went on; ????we cannot do this just for one senator.”  Yet, he has.  When one of the senators is Republican Representative Stevens, it seems that earmarking is fine.

    Last fall, after House Transportation Committee Chairman Don Young (R-Alaska) and Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) earmarked $223 million to link the remote town of Ketchikan (population 8,900) to the more remote island of Gravina (population 50), the Bridge to Nowhere became a national symbol of congressional pork-mania, lampooned by Leno, Letterman and Limbaugh. It was the most brazen of the record-breaking 6,300-plus earmarks inserted by individual members of Congress into the record-breaking $286 billion transportation bill.  Even Parade magazine, not known for its muckraking, featured the project as a poster child for government waste.

    Young, a 33-year House veteran, defiantly boasted that he had stuffed the bill “like a turkey.”  And Stevens, a 37-year senator, furiously threatened to resign if Congress shifted money away from Gravina and another bridge to nowhere near Anchorage — a bridge named Don Young’s Way, near Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport.

    In truth Senator Ted Stevens is well known for earmarking.  The bridge to nowhere is only one of numerous examples.  However, this matters not in the mind of the pork-barreling master.

    For, vengeance has no limit or logic.  Senator Stevens is gratified as he reads the reports, in USA Today, “House and Senate versions of the 2007 Defense appropriation bill contain $7 million for the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center ?” half of what the center received last fiscal year.”  Yes, all is well, and “right” in the world of Ted Stevens.  He has won and our soldiers have lost again.

    War is a wondrous invention, be it on the floor of the Senate or in the fields of Iraq.  Winners, such as Stevens celebrate their victory; victims’ pay the price.  The cost for brain-injured troops is phenomenally high; these troops have lost millions.

    References, Resources, Natural and “Un” . . .

    “Stop Congress. Billions For Bombs Not Brains ©”, By Betsy L. Angert.  Be-Think. August 16, 2006
    Dick Durbin’s Senate, By Robert D. Novak. Monday, November 28, 2005
    Big oil CEOs under fire in Congress, By Chris Isidore, CNN/Money. November 9, 2005
    Durbin earmark’s defeat no sign of reform, By Robert D. Novak. Chicago Sun Times. August 17, 2006
    Document Says Oil Chiefs Met With Cheney Task Force, By Dana Milbank and Justin Blum. Washington Post. Wednesday, November 16, 2005
    Editorial: Hostage to pork. The Blade, Toledo, Ohio. Knight Ridder Tribune. December 28, 2005
    BP’s Accidents Put Its Celebrated CEO On the Hot Seat.  Wall Street Journal. June 16, 2006
    Alaska finds 10% of BP’s Safety Valves In Huge Prudhoe Bay Oil Field Fail Tests, By Jim  Carlton. Wall Street Journal.  April 26, 2001
    Editorial: A red-faced green BP: Maintenance failures tarnish firm’s image, The Sacramento Bee – Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News via COMTEX. August 9, 2006
    BP faces shareholder legal action. BBC News. Wednesday, 16 August 2006
    Aanalysis of the Proposed Consent Order and Draft Complaint to Aid Public Comment.
    Center for war-related brain injuries faces budget cut, By Gregg Zoroya, USA Today. August, 8, 2006
    The Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center?”Providing Care for Soldiers with Traumatic Brain Injury

    Stop Congress. Billions For Bombs Not Brains

    © copyright 2006 Betsy L. Angert

    There are times when less words, say more.  Perhaps, the proper axiom is “Nobody does, or says it better,” than Paul Rieckhoff, Executive Director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.  I know not which statement is most fitting.  However, I trust there is little I can say to introduce this request.  Please stop Congress; they plan to reduce the funding for veterans brain injury treatment.

    Rarely can we act [express love] and react [articulate fear and pain] simultaneously.  This is a unique opportunity.  We, the people, have the power to do each with a single click.

    Thus, I ask you, dear reader, to please, help our soldiers; they have suffered enough.  In a country where for the most part, the poor protect and defend the rich, where men and women in need of securing a more solid future sacrifice their lives and volunteer to serve during wartime, Congress is planning to slash the funds necessary for research and treatment of war-related Brain Injuries.

    Those that represent the citizenry of the United States are electing to eliminate one-half of the resources previously allocated to benefit our brain-injured troops.  Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans, cut down in the prime of their lives, will receive no more than they had and will be given much less.  It makes little sense to me.

    America sponsors the war effort with billions of dollars.  Its citizens and Congress proudly proclaim “Support Our Troops.”  We affirm the troops are fighting to “keep us safe.”  Meanwhile, when an individual soldier can no longer serve, when his or her brain barely functions because they took a blow for US, we no longer care for them.  It is all so sad to me.  Therefore, Executive Director Rieckhoff and I ask you to assist.

    Please Stop Congress’ Plan to Slash Funding for Treatment of Troops’ Brain Injuries

    Dear IAVA Supporter . . .

    In the midst of a war, politicians in Washington are cutting funding for the treatment of a serious injury affecting over 100,000 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans.  Supporting the troops should be more than a sound-bite.  Go to to tell Congress to put their money where their mouth is.

    When a Marine in Fallujah barely escapes a rocket-propelled grenade [RPG] attack, or an improvised explosive device [IED] explodes near a soldier’s Humvee, the blast can cause the Troop’s brain to slam against in the inside of his skull.  The result is Traumatic Brain Injury, or TBI, which can cause dizziness, problems with vision, hearing, or speech, memory loss, and even severe brain damage.  At least 100,000 troops serving in Iraq or Afghanistan have been affected by TBI.

    So, how does Congress respond?  By cutting in half the funding for the research and treatment center for traumatic brain injury, [TBI.]  Go to to send a letter blasting Congress for cutting funding for the treatment of America’s wounded veterans.

    Veterans’ care is not the place to cut corners.  The Defense Authorization bills are spending about $400 billion of your money.  But TBI research requires only an extra $7 million.  Show your support for Troops suffering with Traumatic Brain Injury ?” go to to send a letter to your local paper today, to tell Congress to save funding for TBI research.


    Paul Rieckhoff

    Executive Director

    Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America . . .

    Please Realize, Hiding Troop Brain Injuries has Long Been the Habit of the Pentagon . . .

    Why I Write and Write, Then Write Again


    Looking back, I understand that I was teaching myself to write.

    ~ Mary Wesley [British Author, 1912 to 2002]

    I write, I write, I always write.

    ~ Tom Araya [Vocalist, Bassist, Thrash Metal Band. Slayer. Born 1961 to present]

    © copyright 2006 Betsy L. Angert

    Many authors have broached the question, “Why do I write?”  World renowned, science fiction writer, George Orwell penned a memorable and oft-mentioned exposé on the topic.  This novelist knew at the early age of five that he “should” be a writer.  I struggle with the idea of what we “should” do and apparently, Mr. Orwell did as well.  He did not do as he thought he “should” until his mid-twenties.  If only I had my awakening that early in my life.

    I suspect for me, part of my delay was due to the fact that in my life, the concept of “you should” was never imposed.  My parents never professed to claim that they knew what was best for me, and certainly, I had no idea, though I usually thought I did.  On occasion, I would ask my Mom or my Dad, “What do you think I “should” do.”  The response was always the same, “Do whatever makes you happy as long as it does not hurt anyone.”  That was easily accomplished.  Much makes me happy.  The only thing that does not bring me joy is hurting another.  Thus, I pursued the thing that brought me the greatest pleasure, learning.

    I learned to talk and walk by the age of eight months.  My Mom enrolled me in school, not day care, at the age of eighteen months.  By the time I was two years of age I knew I wanted a Doctorate of Philosophy; perhaps I was suited for the study of Psychology.  This discipline had served my parents well.  As I aged, I was very interested in the topic.  Textbooks in the field were fun for me.  Fiction was never my favorite.  Real life was always more appealing.  While attending high school, I helped my parents teach graduate classes in the subject.  Yes, psychology and social sciences were something to consider.

    However, I had no ego-strength.  I am not a competitive spirit.  The idea of entering my parent’s area of expertise left me cold.  I decided that studying as they had would not be wise.  Instead, I studied Art.  I took many other classes.  I only wanted to learn.  Career paths were not my quest.  I considered my career to be that of a college student.  I took course after course.  I did register for and complete classes in Psychology.  Communication, English, Social Science, Political Science, Education, and Film Analysis also struck my fancy.  I did take a class in writing; however, I did that just for fun.  I thought no further of it.

    For so long, I did not know I was a writer, though I wrote daily.  I was most absorbed when I was writing; yet, I never recognized that this was my passion.  Only in recent years have I discovered that I spent much of my entire life living in fear, avoiding all that I loved; I entertained options that seemed less threatening.

    To this day, I work to discern, do I fear failure, or perhaps more aptly, does achievement cause me greater angst.  I know not with certainty.  I only understand that the life journey that I am on offers many unexpected opportunities for insight.  However, sadly, I am a slow learner.

    As I reflect on my own history, I recognize that words were always my greatest companion.  As I said, I began speaking at the age of eight months old.  Even in those early moments, my chatter was comprehensive.  I was able to communicate well.  My Mom marveled at the depth of my dialogue and wondered what it all meant.  She had no trouble understanding my meaning.  It was the idea of giving birth to such an articulate precocious child that concerned her.  After all, few babies speak fully when they are less than a year old.  I, on the other hand was quite fluent.

    I thought nothing of this, for I did not know that it was unusual.  What did I know; I was three-quarters of a year old and trusted that being as I am was best.

    As I grew, my vocabulary and verbiage increased as well.  I loved words, though I questioned my understanding of these.  My Dad consistently claimed it is not wise to use a word unless you knew the dictionary definition of such.  While I acknowledge that one word can have many meanings and it is not humanly possible to recall each of these, I still feel a compulsion to understand the lexicon.  I live with a dictionary by my side.  In fact, I have one in virtually every room of my home.  Though I use these often, when choosing a word I still doubt; is this the correct usage

    I, as my Mom, must make a concerted effort to pronounce words properly.  This has been a battle for each of us as long as I can recall.  I respect that my Mom is a genius and that her challenge with pronunciations is not truly a problem; however, for me, the struggle seems huge.  It haunts me.

    Perhaps, these tales are telling.  Possibly, they delayed my awareness for who I am and what I love.  As I said, until recently I did not accept or acknowledge that I am an author.  Yet, I have been one since the beginning of my time.

    I write it to get it out of me.  I don’t write it to remember it.

    ~ Kathy Acker [American Feminist Writer. 1947 to 1997]

    In seventh grade, I began collecting quotes.  I purchased a small spiral notepad fashioned in the form of a piece of fruit.  The pages are orange.  I know this because I still have this booklet.  I began placing every word of wisdom I could find into this little leaflet.

    In this same year, I, along with each of my classmates was required to write an essay.  The subject was, “Why Parents “Should” be Members of the Parent-Teacher Association.”  We were given class time to write the composition on Wednesday, the day before our regularly scheduled Tuesday/Thursday Home Economics class.  I wrote the paper and put it away.  In those days, I was not the most organized student.  Then on Thursday, we were told to turn the pages in before we were dismissed to our Domestic Arts class.  I knew I had completed the work; therefore, I was not worried.  However, I could not find it.

    Our own school could not house the room for this Home study.  We did not have the facilities.  To attend the mandatory sessions, my follow classmates, and I had to walk two miles down the road to another school.  There was only so much time allotted for the travel.  I panicked.  I had never been absent or tardy and the option to be so never entered my mind.  Thus, I sat down and quickly wrote a second essay.  I tried to recall what I had said in the first.  I rushed, remembering little.  I completed this “complex” thesis and then rapidly ran to catch up to my peers.

    Weeks passed and I never thought of the passage.  I had not realized that faculty, staff, and parents would review these dissertations.  The idea of a contest was a foreign to me.  I have disdained competitions for as long as I can recall.  I never enter these.  I only knew that I was required to write and I did.  Then, I learned that an announcement was made at the last Parent-Teacher association meeting.

    The “winning” essay was publicly revealed.  The parents of the student were asked to rise and claim the prize for their progeny.  No one stood.  Of course not; my parents were not affiliated with the Association.  They too, do not react well to the idea of “you should.”  The honor was bestowed upon me in class.  I received a check for ten dollars.  My dad framed it.

    Though I received accolades and attention, they meant nothing to me.  I have never trusted compliments, or at least at that point, in my life I did not.  I have learned since.  Criticisms come easily.  People are reluctant to offer praise.  However, I digress while still relating to what was.  The possibility of judicious reviews caused me to cringe.  What if I was not good enough?  I was certain I was not.  There was no need to establish this with certainty.  I continued on, as I had.  I wrote for fun, for relaxation, for me, nothing more.

    “Writing is the only thing that, when I do it, I don’t feel I should be doing something else.”

    ~ Gloria Steinem [American Writer and Activist.  Born 1935]

    In high school, on most Wednesdays, we had all school assemblies.  During my freshman year, the Milwaukee County Symphony Orchestra came to entertain us.  The music they played was classical; it was not my style though I as the performance went on I realized I was riveted.  The orchestra chose to present a musical piece titled “March to the Gallows.”  As the sounds filled the stage, I closed my eye; a story surfaced.  I wrote it.

    I turned this narrative into my English teacher, Mrs. Finn, for a grade.  She loved the work and repeatedly suggested I submit for publication.  The idea frightened me.  I knew not where to begin.  I did nothing with this narrative, though now decades later I am considering the prospect.

    I did take another writing course in high school; however, again, I concluded this class was fun, nothing more.  I did well, very well, and did not think that significant.  For me, in taking classes, I was pursuing my passion.  I was learning.  I entered the University and followed the career path I planned.  I chose to be a professional student.

    I saw myself as a scholar; I lived in school and never wanted to leave.  However, life became more real, too real.  I took a summer job in the mailroom of a school district and discovered that I had more education than some of the executives.  Yet, I did not have a college degree, only a high school diploma.  I could not be placed in a better position.  I needed credentials.  I recognized, one day I would need to graduate from college and begin a professional career.

    I decided I would study Education, at least that way I would still be among academics.  As I absorbed myself in my studies, I wrote paper after paper.  You might think we all do that in school and you would be correct; however, for me, this type of writing was a challenge.  As I said, in my youth I was far less organized.  My mind was all over the place.  Outlines were not an art I mastered.  I was [and am] a compulsive researcher; however, I compiled so much information, that it consumed me.  I did not know where to begin or end a thought.  I had so much to say, I could not focus on a singular theme.

    For me, writing was as breathing.  It was a constant.  It took no thought; it was, my way of thinking.  As I wrote, I learned.  One thought leads to another, the words flowed.  Rarely was there a distinct direction.  The ideas that rose from the words often surprised me.  When I wrote I was on fire.  I exemplified spontaneous combustion.

    “Writing is an exploration.  You start from nothing and learn as you go.”

    ~ E. L. Doctorow [American author, Editor.  Born 1931]

    While working on my Professional Clear Teaching Credential, my Academic Advisor, Dr. Elisabeth S. Hartung required that my fellow students and I write.  She did not ask us to delve into data; she required that we reflect.  We penned observations and experiences we shared with our pupils.  Professor Hartung often expressed an appreciation for my prose.  On more than one occasion, she suggested that I publish my journal.  Of course, I dismissed the idea.  As always, I trusted compliments came from those that were trying to be nice.  I believed people always were.  When I was praised, I pondered little.  Words commending my work only served to secure my position; people are consistently giving.  Certainly, my writing was not noteworthy; it was, well indescribable.

    Then in graduate school it happened.  I was given an opportunity to grow that differed from those in my past.  His name was Everett E. Murdock, Ph.D..  I enrolled in one of his classes.  He understood my desire to learn.  He allowed me to ask infinite questions; he willingly answered these.  Dr. Murdock quickly recognized my lack of competitive spirit.  He realized that grades were not as important to me as erudition and doing what I thought best for me.  When he assigned a paper, I did not do it once, receive the best of grades, and then leave the composition behind.  I rewrote the pages and resubmitted these again and again.

    Professor Murdock patiently re-evaluated my work.  He assessed not only the content but also the context.  He corrected my grammar, remarked when concepts were unclear, and allowed me to learn from his constant and consistent feedback.  I did.  I took all seven classes that he taught.  Dr. Murdock told me, “One day you will go on to teach these same courses.”  I did.  Still, I did not feel passionate about my pursuits.  I went through the motions avidly, though something was lacking.

    Years later another opportunity entered my sphere.  It was in the form of a man.  I will call him Gary.  On our first official date, Gary asked, “When you are troubled in a relationship, do you tend to write your thoughts rather than speak aloud of these.”  I had never considered the possibility before.  I only knew that in our four hours together days before, Gary impressed me.  I was happy to make him happy.

    When he inquired, I thought for a time.  I remembered on occasions, after a disagreement with my Dad, I had written of my concerns.  I would present these communiqués to my Dad and we would, then discuss.  My dad and I always discussed easily.  Therefore, the writing seemed a non-event.  It was not meaningful or significant; it was just what I did.  Nevertheless, rather than be nit-picky, to please Gary, I said yes, I wrote when speaking was difficult for me.

    Gary immediately signed up for email and gave me his account.  I thought this nice, odd, and interesting.  Actually, I was unsure of what it meant.  Soon after I discovered Gary was not the easiest person to talk to.  He was unpredictable, volatile, erratic, and explosive.  Having grown-up in a home when no one ever yelled and consistency was the norm, Gary’s behavior terrified me.  Yet, I was drawn to him.  I knew there was something I needed to learn from this enigmatic man, and as you may recall, I do love learning.

    This lesson was the most painful I ever experienced and yet, the most rewarding.  Gary and I exchanged, or might I more accurately said danced as we did for years.  Our exchanges were tentative, though deep.  Misunderstandings were eternal.  The slightest quip could be hurtful or loving.  A rollercoaster ride is calmer than my time with Gary was.  It was so difficult to speak with him and there was so much to say that I took up writing as a regular habit.

    I realized almost immediately that if my written phrases were the least bit reactive; they would be received with hostility.  If I could express myself assertively, though with love, I would receive that in kind.  I learned the power of considering an audience.  My skills expanded; I developed an ability to be focused and specific.  I fine-tuned each turn of a phrase.  I grew.

    I evolved as a person, as an author, and I realized, writing was my passion all along!  I do not write because I want to say something.  I write because I must express myself with written words.  For me, if I do not write, I do not truly exist.  I am barely alive.  Thus, I write, and write, and write again.

    “You don’t write because you want to say something, you write because you have something to say.”

    ~ F. Scott Fitzgerald [Author of the Great Gatsby. 1846 to 1940]
  • Why I Write. George Orwell. First published: Gangrel. London. Summer 1946.

  • Terrorism Taunts United States, United Kingdom, Bush/Blair Alliance ©

    On this day, August 10, 2006, airports and airlines in the United States and United Kingdom, are on “red alert.”  This is the highest of all warning levels invoked since terrorism became our truth.  Precautionary measures are being enforced with vigilance.  All liquids and gels are forbidden on flights.  These are thought too volatile.  It is known, presumed, or suspected radicals were planning to mix fluids while planes were in the air.  These solutions would then be unstable, possibly explosive.  “Baby formulas and medicines are the only exceptions, though passengers may be asked to verify that these are not toxic.”

    The times they are a changing.  I ask you, what are your thoughts on terrorism, here, and abroad?

    Do you believe that Bush/Blair, their respective Cabinets, Intelligence, and Security agencies are addressing these concerns well?

    Might you believe that were it not for policies imposed by the Bush/Blair parallel, wars would not be in the wind, in the air, on planes, trains, and subways?

    I offer no opinions of my own in this short treatise.  I only ask you to share your thoughts.  It may be too early, too late; it may be moot.  Nevertheless, I think talk can only better understanding; therefore, I invite you to discuss.

    For ample discussion of this topic, you may wish to visit cross-postings at My Left Wing, Daily Kos, and Booman Tribune.

    I invite you to broaden the dialogue here.  Please share your stories and feelings with Be-Think readers.  I thank you for contributing your comments.

    The dialogue begins or ends.  Dare we discuss? Please do.  References for your review . . .

    Security chief: Airline terror plot ‘close to execution’, Plans reminiscent of an al Qaeda operation, Chertoff says. Cable News Network. Thursday, August 10, 2006; Posted: 9:15 a.m.
    Plot to Bomb Jets Is Thwarted in Britain, By Eric Pfanner. International Herald Tribune. New York Times. August 10, 2006

    Bush. Rice. The “Root Causes” of War. ©

    Twenty-seven long and bloody days have passed.  Early on there were calls for help.  People, pundits, and political leaders were requesting America assist with negotiations.  They stated someone must stop the fighting.  Many thought only the world’s singular superpower could do it.  However, the Bush Administration declared the time was not right.  Thus, they waited.

    America allowed its friend and ally Israel to pummel the Lebanese countryside.  Thus far, 700,000 people have been displaced within Lebanon.  Women and children are killed day after day; and all Bush can say is “Hezbollah is to blame.”  Hezbollah captured two Israeli soldiers and had they not done so Lebanon and Israel would be at peace, or so is the world according to the Shrub.

    Hezbollah has fired Katyusha rockets daily.  On some days, hundred sprinkle Israeli territories.  As weeks turn into a month, these missiles come closer to the capital.  These projectiles are penetrating more deeply into the nation state of Israel.  There are many injuries.  However, the fight must continue, according to Israeli officials.  “We must win.”

    Numerous persons worldwide are disturbed.  When will this crisis end?  Will it ever?

    The people of this republic clamor; they ask their President to talk to the warring nations.  Americans insist; we must step in.  The requests fall on deaf ears.  Days pass and the public begs; they pray, “Please Mr. Bush speak with the Israelis.  Send Condie in.  She will save the day.”  Americans want the Administration to meet with the Lebanese.  Negotiate with Hezbollah.  Work with other nations to reach an accord.  Do something.  The Emperor delays.

    Mr. Bush, with the blessings of his Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, continues to explain, the time will come.  For now, “Israel has the right to defend herself.”

    However, ultimately, after all the aggression and all the assertions Bush and his Bunch did enter the fray.  Diplomatic talks did begin.  They progress slowly.  However, days ago an announcement was made; an agreement had been reached.

    This morning a press conference was held.  King George II and the lovely Miss Rice met with journalists.  They made a statement and took questions.

    Secretary Rice and diplomats from other countries are developing United Nations resolutions to bring about a cessation of hostilities and establish a foundation for lasting peace.

    The first resolution, which the Security Council is now considering, calls for a stop of all hostilities.  Under its terms, Hezbollah will be required to immediately stop all attacks; Israel will be required to immediately stop all offensive military operations.

    The President and his pride are pleased; yet, those concerned are not.  Some ask, “Why does the text of the resolution state “all hostilities” must stop, and then clarify, Hezbollah is required to stop all attacks; Israel need only end offensive operations. ”  Why is there a cessation and no ceasefire?

    Bush explains, a resolution is not requested or required because “root causes” must be addressed.  We are reminded of the statement Secretary Rice made weeks ago, “A ceasefire would be a false promise if it simply returns us to the status quo”.

    A second resolution, which the Security Council will begin working on as soon as possible, will help establish a sustainable and enduring cease-fire.

    Perchance, that armistice will address the “root causes.”

    Dear reader, you might note that I referred to “root causes” twice within a given paragraph.  I am being redundant, perhaps, to make a point.  I know not.  I only understand that the term must be reiterated over and over, and over again.  At least that is my assumption, for I hear the President and his persuasive Secretary of State using the same phrase repetitively.  I began to count the number of usages in today’s speech and then again, within answer; however, I lost count early on.

    Just before the meeting began, I was watching an interview with Former Senate Majority Leader, also Mideast Envoy for the Clinton administration, George Mitchell.  Soledad O’Brien of Cable News Network and the esteemed Mr. Mitchell were discussing the Middle East situation and possible solutions.

    During this dialogue, Ms. O’Brien asked, “If you were advising this president, what would you tell him to do to solve this crisis now?”

    Former Senator Mitchell replied,

    Well, the administration was very slow to get involved.  It has concentrated all of its effort, resources, and attention on Iraq over the past few years, and as a result, the central concern, the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, really hasn’t had the attention it deserves.  But now after a slow start, even in the past few weeks, they’re into it.  And I think what they’ve got to do is persevere and make it clear that they’re going to stay with this until it’s resolved.

    The problem has been that, other than Iraq, the administration’s involvement, particularly in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, has been episodic, irregular — come in one day, go out next week. I think they have to say — the president has to make clear that they’re determined to stay with this and get an ultimate resolution.

    The second point is — I simply don’t agree with Secretary Rice’s formulation that here’s our resolution, if you’re not for it, you’re not for peace. That’s the attitude that I think has reduced American credibility around the world.  That we’ve presented this, we know what is best, and if you don’t agree with us, you’re not a good person.  That’s not the approach that they should be taking.  It ought to be, here’s an effort, let’s all sit down and talk together.  Let’s listen to the concerns of people.  Let’s try to work them out.  In the end, you may not be able to get everybody on board, but I think that’s a better approach.  ?

    And the third thing is, this isn’t going to be resolved in any final way until Syria is involved.  This is on Syria’s border.  They’re exposed to…

    Ms. O’Brien interjects, inquiring, “Direct negotiations, you mean, with the U.S.?”

    The former Middle East Envoy replies,

    We ought to be talking to them.  And I would be amazed if there were not indirect negotiations.  To say they’re bad people, we won’t talk to them, has the benefit of clarity and it’s easily understood.  But when you want someone to do something, it’s hard to get them to do it if you won’t talk to them.

    Thus we have it, the root cause stated clearly.  I think the “root cause” is not Hezbollah; nor would I claim that it is Israel, or Lebanon.  For me, the “root cause” for wars worldwide, be they in the Middle East or elsewhere is the same.  It is the babyish Bush Bunch attitude, “You are either with us or against us.”  Play by our rules or you cannot play at all.  Tantrums, what tantrums, I just refuse to talk to you until . . . Welcome to the world of Bush; battles are blazing.  Rome is on fire and Nero plays the fiddle, foolishly.

    Reference the Root Causes for the Resolution . . .

    Protesters Want End To Battering Of Lebanon, By Lynne Tuohy. The Hartford Courant. August 6, 2006
    American and British inaction will turn a crisis into a catastrophe.  Sunday Herald. July 23, 2006
    President’s Radio Address. Office of the Press Secretary. July 22, 2006
    Bush Blames Hezbollah, Syria for Mideast Violence; WTO Talks Break Down, Associated Press. Sunday, July 16, 2006
    Lebanon: Hezbollah bombs deeper into Israel. Gleaner Company. Thursday, August 3, 2006
    Bush: ‘Israel Has Right to Defend Itself’. By Voice of America News.  July 13, 2006
    President Bush and Secretary of State Rice Discuss the Middle East Crisis. Office of the Press Secretary. August 7, 2006
    Transcript: Bush, Rice news conference. Seattle Post. Monday, August 7, 2006
    PDF Transcript: Bush, Rice news conference. Seattle Post. Monday, August 7, 2006
    Bush: Mideast violence must stop, CNN News. Aired August 7, 2006
    American Morning.  Transcripts. U.N. Mideast Resolution. CNN News. Aired August 7, 2006
    Rice sees Mideast progress among the bombs. CNN News. Thursday, August 3, 2006
    Rice: Cease-fire won’t help, By Shmuel Rosner. Haaretz.
    Special Briefing on Travel to the Middle East and Europe. Secretary Condoleezza Rice. Washington, DC. U.S. State Department. July 21, 2006
    Lebanon’s objections delay UN Council Mideast vote. Reuters. August 7, 2006
    The Root Cause Of War In The Middle East, By Claude Salhani. United Press International. July 31, 2006
    What Are the Root Causes, Mr. Bush and Ms. Rice? Opinion: Am Johal. Scoop Independent News. Thursday, 27 July 2006
    What Are the Root Causes, Mr. Bush and Ms. Rice? By Am Johal. The Electronic Intifada. July 26, 2006
    Village attack stirs outrage; tactics isolate Israel, U.S., By Susan Page, Andrea Stone and Jeffrey Stinson, USA Today. July 31, 2006

    Jews, Mel Gibson, War. Rehabilitating Hatred ©

    “Peace is harder to make than war.” – Stanley Weintraub

    Those that know me well might ask why would I write an exposé discussing Mel Gibson.  I am not a fan of Hollywood or its gossip.  I do not go to the movie theatres.  I rarely recall the names of actors.  Show business personalities are of little interest to me.  Their art does not mesmerize my mind.  Most of it, I feel, is meaningless.  As for Mel, I was unwilling to attend a showing of the “Passion of Christ,” even though a friend offered to pay for my ticket.  As much as I believe it is important to know what those that differ from me, think, say, do and feel, the prospect of an anti-Semitic message turned my stomach.

    Though this treatise will invoke the name of Mel Gibson, it is not about Mr. Gibson; it is about hatred and whether or not we can rehabilitate the hearts and minds of those that hate.

    People hate for all sorts of reasons, or they say they do.  The poor loathe the rich, though they wish to be them.  The affluent can’t bear the sight of the destitute.  They fear becoming impoverished themselves and loosing the luxuries that are their life.  Blacks detest whites; Hispanics are becoming a close second.  No one loves the oppressor or the aspiring that seem to be rising above the fray.  Whites find Blacks objectionable.  I suspect color is their concern.  The natural born despise the immigrants; they are frightened that these “low-lives” will take their jobs.  The émigré abhor hypocritical employers that hire them.  Many migrants are offered jobs they take.  Upon completing their work, they are paid with threats.  Supervisors often say they will turn these laborers into the Immigration and Naturalization Services if need be.

    In truth, none of these individuals or groups hates the other.  They merely do not know or understand what is unfamiliar or different.  They are apprehensive when confronted with what they think might hurt them.  Their anxiety causes them to interpret the stranger through a clouded filter.  Rather than communicate what they are truly feeling they lash out.  Instead of asking to understand the unknown, they assume.  People easily become consumed with what they do not comprehend.  They forget what they could know.

    “Hate” is an expression of fear and pain.  We loathe what is foreign or unfamiliar to us.  We are angst-driven when we do not appreciate.  Humans disdain the possibility of harm; any that might impose pain are reviled.  However, those we love are special.  We know all their faults and find these endearing or at least tolerable.  Those we know are not our enemies; nor are they evil.  All the wrongs in the world are not imposed upon our friends or our family.  Familiars are our treasures.  They tame us and we tame them.

    I believe hate is a habit.  We learn it when we are very, very, very young, before we understand that there are other possibilities.  In the last few days, prompted by the arrest and anti-Semantic antics of Mel Gibson I have heard many discussions of habits and whether a person can fully recover from an addiction.  None was more interesting to me than an interview by Journalist Soledad O’Brien of Cable News Network.

    Ms. O??Brien asked marketing specialist, Laura Ries of Mel Gibson’s future.  Is this admitted alcoholic hurt by his actions?  Can he return and be salable?  As the verbal exchange ensued, there was discussion of the Gibson apology.  Was it adequate or sincere?  Talk of his ensuing therapy filled the thread.  All that was well and good; however, for me, Ms. O’Brien offered what was most powerful.  She asked, “Can we rehabilitate hate?”  She then stated, “Rehab can’t cure the anti-Semitism, and can’t cure the nasty thing he said to the female deputy, right?”  Ms. Ries answered “No.”  She thought nothing could be done to eliminate what I believe is the core issue.

    Some say, “Once an addict, always an addict,” my experience differs.  I do think change is a challenge and does not come easily.  Nevertheless, I think it does come if given a chance.  I have witnessed it in my own life and I trust that others have as well. We all can recount stories of a time when we thought another was very unpleasant.  Then, when we got to know the person; they became our friend.  Intimate knowledge informed our perception.  An enemy was now an intimate.  all else changed.

    I wish to provide a parable that relates, one told by Stanley Weintraub and shared in a book, “Silent Night: The Story of The World War I Christmas Truce. The story is true.  It is one of peace; however, it begins as many sagas do during times of strife.  It is the tale of two enemies.  This incident took place during the Christmas season, in the middle of a war, World War I.  Weintraub writes

    At Christmas 1914 there took place in some parts of the British line what is still regarded by many as the most remarkable incident of the War ?” an unofficial truce.

    Mr. Weintraub explains in an interview,

    In part, the truce came about as brief truces in earlier wars occurred ?” as a respite to bury the dead.  This was arranged for first light on Christmas Day.  The joint ceremonies were especially moving.  However, they jointly realized that by clearing No Man’s Land of its grisly dead, they had created a space to fraternize, and even to play football.  The Germans held more formal religious marking of Christmas than did the other side.  But it was football that was the working-class religion.  in sharing food, smokes, and play, each side de-demonized the other (if I can coin such a word).

    The inscription continues,

    During the winter, it was not unusual for little groups of men to gather in a front trench, and there hold impromptu concerts, singing patriotic songs.  The Germans, too, did much the same, and on calm evenings the songs from one line floated to the trenches of the other side, and were received with applause, and sometimes with calls for an encore.”

    Once the battle resumed the troops realized, they could not kill their rivals.  The troops were no longer  foes.  They had become known entities, real people.  With hearts and souls.  They were no long bodies without blood and feelings; these were men no different than those trying to kill them.  After, the truce and all that it involved, soldiers on each side saw their enemy and understood, he is as I am.  Fear fled; hearts filled.  These British and Germans troops were no longer adversaries; they had become allies.

    In order for us human beings to commit ourselves personally to the inhumanity of war, we find it necessary first to dehumanize our opponents, which is in itself a violation of the beliefs of all religions. Once we characterize our adversaries as beyond the scope of God’s mercy and grace, their lives lose all value.

    ~ Jimmy Carter, Former President of the United States

    I think this tale is telling; it illustrates what few imagine as they profess policy.  Silent Night addresses hatred on a human level and confounds the practical.  This narrative honors the philosophy I think is vital; when we diminish and dismiss the dignity of a man, woman, or child, when we relegate the life of a living being to that of an object then we separate ourselves from reality.  We create our own fiction.  We allow ourselves to hate when we react and posture.  When we choose to believe that our neighbor is our enemy or evil, we enable murder.  If we were to recognize our fellow man is our mirror, even our Muse everything would change.  Admittedly, change is a challenge.

    Therefore, I propose that we learn from the history that is too well hidden.  Might we see the story of Silent Night as our guide?  Perchance, if we adopted a policy of acquaintanceship we would progress.  Genuine peace would be our reward.

    I anticipate the claims.  “My actions will not affect others.”  Alternatively, “The task is too broad.”  I have already begun, “Some of my best friends are.”  However, these assertions take me back to the talk of Mel Gibson.

    I feel certain, as a newborn baby, Mel knew nothing of revulsion.  He was unaware of religion or stereotypes.  This blank slate learned.  After instruction, he intentionally never befriended a Jewish person.  if he did accidentally, his preconceived notion ruled.  Disdain for Jews dominated his thoughts.  He intentionally never allowed himself to feel close to one of this religion, race, ethnicity, or creed.  He maintained a personal and professional distance.  However, likely, even for Mel,  one or two Jews may have slipped through the cracks of his loathing.  Such an odd occurrence would be perfect, for it would allow this anti-Semite to say, and to believe that, some of his best friends were, and they may have actually been.  However, as a whole the man differentiated between those he knew personally and those he accepted to be, as he always believed them to be.

    What I put forth is that we consistently open our minds and our hearts, not only to those that enter our sphere, but to all.  I ask to put down our arms and put them out instead.  When there is conflict, when world leaders, family patriarchs, friends, or fellow workers are feeling ready for a feud they require themselves to sit and have a meal with those that think differently than they do.  People ready to pounce must instead purposely choose to live in close proximity with their “enemy” and their enemies’ entire clan for a week or more.

    What a cruel thing is war:  to separate and destroy families and friends, and mar the purest joys and happiness God has granted us in this world; to fill our hearts with hatred instead of love for our neighbors, and to devastate the fair face of this beautiful world.

    ~ Robert E. Lee, Civil War General, in a letter to his wife, 1864

    Each individual must speak frequently with their supposed adversaries, and learn from and of the other.  If we do this what might happen?  Perhaps if we knew one another intimately we would be able to see, to feel, to empathize, and relate.  Perchance, we would discover a friend amongst our foes.  I wonder; if we were truly open to discovery, to dialogue, to dining and living with our antagonist might we find a friend or at least not someone we are ready to kill?

    I trust that you, or I can blame the other and state that I am willing; yet, they are not.  I believe someone must begin and believe, if not us who.  The other may not be receptive, initially.  I have experienced that.  However, I find in my own life if I do not accept and allow my fears and feelings of woe to guide me, much is not as I expected to be.  I imagine that each of us has experienced what a smile can create.  As you approach a grumpy or a distracted soul, smile and watch what happens.  Even a gentle and unobtrusive grin opens doors and windows.  Imagine what genuine dialogue might do.

    I ask you dear reader to consider, would there be war if we truly knew our neighbors?  If we were to experience our enemies as allies, if we saw and treated our adversaries as human rather than foreigners would we be able to kill them.  If they were given the opportunity to know us as we are, would they wish to harm us?  I think not.

    Communication and communing might seem a chore too complex too complete.  However, I think we must begin; we must try and see what we can do.  The competitive spirit of centuries past has not helped; it has hindered attempts towards concord.  We witnessed the tale of a World War I truce; we can know peace is a possibility.  Is it not preferable to bombs?  I think we would all agree destruction benefits no one, other than those that produce the bombs.

    Lets us imagine and originate a world where we work together as one, where fear and loathing are not the overriding principles.  Lets us conceive of and achieve a global village where greed is not greater than the sense of equality.  I request rather than fighting against nameless faces, we meet our rivals in their homes and in ours.  I think society be better served if we would invest in knowing, if we become acquainted with the anonymous persons we now call aliens.  Perhaps, war will become whimsy, never be true again if we sincerely endeavor to eliminate the concepts of enemy and evil.  I invite us all to join in peace to work as one, united.  Some may smile, hold hands, and and sing Kum-by-yah; others will softly hum the words of Silent Night.

    There are those playing Guns and Roses, Civil War.  I was among these and perchance I still am.

    “What we’ve got here is failure to communicate.
    Some men you just can’t reach…
    So, you get what we had here last week,
    which is the way he wants it!
    Well, he gets it!
    N’ I don’t like it any more than you men.”
    Look at your young men fighting
    Look at your women crying
    Look at your young men dying
    The way they’ve always done before
    Look at the hate we’re breeding
    Look at the fear we’re feeding
    Look at the lives we’re leading
    The way we’ve always done before
    My hands are tied
    The billions shift from side to side
    And the wars go on with brainwashed pride
    For the love of God and our human rights
    And all these things are swept aside
    By bloody hands time can’t deny
    And are washed away by your genocide
    And history hides the lies of our civil wars
    D’you wear a black armband
    When they shot the man
    Who said, “Peace could last forever”

    I did; I do.  I trust it begins with me.

    References for Review and Reflection . . .

    “Passion of Christ”
    The Protocols of Mel Gibson, By Katha Pollitt. The Nation.  March 11, 2004 (March 29, 2004 issue)
    Hate is learned and can be “unlearned,” By Caryl M. Stern-LaRosa. Anti-Defamation League.
    Soledad O’Brien of Cable News Network
    Mel Gibson’s Statement, By The Associated Press. Tuesday, August 1, 2006
    Silent Night: The Story of the World War I Christmas Truce, By Stanley Weintraub.
    German and British front-line soldiers sang carols, exchanged gifts, and  . . . Status: True. Urban Legends Reference Pages. 24 December 2003
    Proposals Abound for Mel Gibson Healing, By Jocelyn Noveck. Associated Press National Writer. SFGate. Friday, August 4, 2006
    American Morning Transcripts. Cable News Network. August 1, 2006
    Stanley Weintraub
    Christmas on the Battlefield, The 1914 Christmas Truce. Q&A by Kathryn Jean Lopez. National Review Online. December 21, 2002
    Divine Words, A missive from the main character of The Passion to director Mel Gibson. By Tony Hendra. The American Prospect. March 2, 2004
    Mel Gibson link to Aussie anti-Semitic group, Lincoln Wright. Herald Sun. August 06, 2006