Calm Communicators Unite Us. Cruel Commanders Divide Us


copyright © 2008 Betsy L. Angert

Americans are at odds.  As a nation, we are splintered.  The parts do not function as a whole.  Some wish to control and command.  Others prefer to work for the common good.  As we stand, we are a country divided.

The most recent Internal Revenue Service data, shows one percent of Americans received twenty-one and two-tenths [21.2] percent of all personal income.  In 2005, fifty [50] percent of the people in this nation, those who have long struggled to survive, earned twelve and eight-tenths [12.8] percent of all wages and salaries.  In the United States, dollars earned split the population.  Wealth is not all that separates us.

Color causes schisms.  Citizens live in regions of the country labeled Red, or Blue.  Brownish immigrants, with or without papers, are relegated to reside in neighborhoods far from the affluent or influential, even when authentic assimilation is meant to be an option.  Frequently Black Americans are housed in communities where opportunities are few.  When persons of various hues intermingle with the massive pinkish population, in the United States, the people of color are alienated.

Were Americans do physically unite, they would likely remain segregated.  Americans subtly separate themselves from those they loathe, and form the people they love.  Few ever consider what they do to create a rift.  In America, demeanors, the way in which we communicate, divides us.

In this nation, a large portion of the population is frequently aggressive, abusive, and antagonistic.  Those they encounter, the not obnoxious or toxic ones, accommodate, appease, appear unaffected, or remain anxious when in the company of the people who believe the best way to appear authoritative is to dictate what needs to be done, by whom, when, where, and why.

At times, the public is able to openly observe and discuss abuse, but usually, only when it is evident in the extreme.  Banner headlines may scream a need to attend to what, for the most part remains hidden.  Neglect, Abuse Seen in 90, 000 Infants.  However, mostly Americans demonstrate their angst in manners identified as normal.  No one speaks of what is standard.  Perchance, the reason is, in the States reactive behaviors, which reveal annoyance, are so common as to be customary.

Daily, in periodicals we read of what we would wish to think is not traditional, but may be.  The accounts scream to us.  Citizens in this country think it outrageous when they realize.  In Chicago, youth violence is increasingly prevalent.  Twenty-two [22] students were slain in this heartland city so far this year.  Our fellow country men remark, ‘This sort of thing occurs only among ‘those people.’  Surely, the rest of us are sane and serene.  ‘The average American would not strike out in such a manner.’  People say, ‘Weaponry is for outlaws,’ or at least, mechanical arsenals are meant only to combat a political enemy.  Those who reside in the United States never imagine that “they” would use a gun in anger, or lash out when with a friend.  Few consider how frequently they attack those they say they are fond of.

When words are the weapon of choice, and blood is not spilled, most in this country think no harm is done.  War and wounds are what we see on the battlefields, and mostly abroad.  In this country, life is calm.

We read of skirmishes elsewhere daily.  Americans witness what occurs in the Persian Gulf.  Iraqi deaths are on the rise regardless of the Americans attempt to Surge and subvert the violence.  Now, that is awful.  Thankfully, this nation is not torn apart by war.

Few ponder the fact that these excessive examples illustrate and amplify what is apparent in American homes.  People pounce easily and often.  We cruelly criticize and intentionally drive a wedge between unions.  We conquer; and in America, we destroy.

In this country, enemies are thought to be around every corner.  We publicly rant and rage when we refer to people of another race or religion.  Privately, many are punitive towards those who reside in our homes.  When we look upon those the “commanders” consider beloved, we see differences, and ignore similarities.  He is wrong; I am right.  She is flawed.  “I am perfect.”  Spite is right.  Malice is might.  Vindictiveness is used to undermine viciousness.  In many American homes, tit for tat is the acceptable.

Those in authority, “Tsk, tsk,” the ones who they would wish to weaken.  Children are infrequently given information about the consequences of their choices.  Calm and complete communication is too often a rarity in our abodes.  Rather than work to create cohesive communities within a household, parents and their progeny dictate, and divide.

Adults learn their aggressive manners in childhood.  A slight from a toddler’s first teachers cuts to the core.  Terse comments, a tease, or a taunt directed at a teen does not simply slide off the back of one scarred by a lifetime of verbal slashes.  Adults do not deflect digs; some have merely learned how to present the appearance of being unaffected by an oral assault.  In truth, “Sticks and stone may break my bones, and names hurt me more than a physical attack might.”  Many may relate to a common event and decide this is not my business.

As I was leaving gym one morning, I overheard a mother berating her daughter for refusing to put her face in the water during a toddlers’ swim class.  “You’re such a little coward,” she told the sobbing child — who could not have been more than three years old.  “It’s the same every week.  You always make your daddy and me ashamed.  Sometimes I can’t believe you’re really my daughter.”

Although my stomach churned with rage on the child’s behalf, I said nothing.  After all, I rationalized, the mother would just tell me to mind my own business.  But I had no doubt that what I had witnessed was in many ways as bad as a brutal beating.  It was emotional child abuse.

“The bruises don’t show on the outside, so there are no statistics on how many children are victims,” says Dr. Elizabeth Watkins, chief of pediatric primary care at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center in New York City.  “But anyone who works with children knows that the problem is widespread.”

University of Minnesota psychologist Byron Egeland, who has conducted extensive studies on parenting and early-childhood development, says the effects of emotional child abuse may be at least as devastating as those of physical abuse.  Research conducted by Egeland and his colleagues suggests that emotionally abused children suffer an even greater decline in mental and psychological development as they grow older than do physically abused children.

This abated state does not necessarily translate to an academic deficit.  Often times, persons who were beaten down emotionally excel in their physical and intellectual endeavors.  Countless adults, who were verbally assaulted as children, believe that the cruelty and callousness they endured, has made them stronger.  People in older bodies show no physical blemishes.  A mature member of society is not noticeably bruised or disfigured.  Most middle-aged grown-ups, those once exposed to such exploitation have learned to hide the scars.  Hurt hearts do not inhibit intellectual growth; nor do the effects of verbal and emotional injuries restrict achievements.  As a tot, a teen, or an individual in his or her golden years, a person harmed by words can thrive and triumph.  The attitude is, “I will show them!”  The thought that provokes our success is, “I will do well.  Then, they will [finally] love me.”

The truth is mean Mom’s and dismissive Dad’s do love their offspring.  They simply do not know how to show it.  Too often, we do as was done to us.  As adults, we become the people our parents were.  While we may have abhorred mother or father’s behavior, it is what we know.  We grow to be as those who taught us were.

At birth, we learn of what we despise most.  In our parents dwelling, as tots, we become acquainted with insults, invectives, and insolence.  The invisible barbs are experienced as a barrage of bullets; each pierces the flesh.  Mothers mock us.  Fathers jeer.  Brothers and sisters, bully.  In our earliest years, we begin to think of when and how we can leave the company of those who say they treasure us.  In time, as children we decide the best defense is a good offense.  Hence, we become equally odious, angry, and ambitious.  Often adults, who were verbally abused as children, when they speak of their parents, state, “They did the best they could.”  Indeed, perfectionist parents do what they believe is best, and they expect their progeny to do better.

In ambitious middle-class families, one of the most common forms of emotional abuse is the denigration of any achievement that falls short of perfection, such as when a child is punished for bringing home a B instead of an A. Jeree Pawl, director of the Infant-Parent Program at San Francisco General Hospital, observes that “perfectionist” parents may display irrational expectations.

After a time, Mom and Dad no longer need to express what they expect; children know what is necessary.  In fact, a young person will demand more of him or herself than either parent ever did.  In our youth, we become self-critical.  Our parents likely did not disparage us as well as we demean ourselves.  Each day, we improve.  We can deliver venom more vigorously than Mom or Dad ever did.  Persons, who were the victims of verbal mistreatment in their youth, inflict the same sarcastic and sardonic on them selves as they age.

The use of hurtful declarations becomes a habit.  Spoken stabs pull a person down.  Those not stated aloud do us in with greater force.  The voice within is perhaps more furious than the one separate from self.  Our self-assessments are as a cancerous virus.  Merciless messages kill.  Yet, no one notices the cause or effects of the illness.  Too many Americans share the symptoms; hence, the pain is standard.

Parental verbal abuse may wound children’s psyches so deeply that the effects remain apparent in young adulthood.  Such abuse may wreak psychological havoc greater than that caused by physical abuse.

With an M.B.A. degree under her belt, 24-year-old “Jaime” (not her real name) should have glowing job prospects in Chicago.  But she harbors memories that erode her self-confidence and make her bristle with anger-memories of her father shouting at her, during drunken rages, that she was ugly and of little value.

Indeed, verbal abuse during childhood can scar people deeply, a new study suggests.  It was headed by Martin Teicher, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Developmental Biopsychiatry Research Program at McLean Hospital, which is affiliated with Harvard Medical School.  Results were published in the June American Journal of Psychiatry.

Although the injurious effects of child physical and sexual abuse have been the subject of considerable inquiry, not much attention has been paid to the possibly noxious effects of verbal abuse on children.

People attend to what they see.  The battered hearts, the wounded souls are not visible to the eye; although the effects of these are apparent if we wish to see them.  Researchers studied and discovered what lies just beneath the surface.

People who were verbally abused had 1.6 times as many symptoms of depression and anxiety as those who had not been verbally abused and were twice as likely to have suffered a mood or anxiety disorder over their lifetime, according to psychology Professor Natalie Sachs-Ericsson, the study’s lead author.

“We must try to educate parents about the long-term effects of verbal abuse on their children,” Sachs-Ericsson said.  “The old saying about sticks and stones was wrong.  Names will forever hurt you.”

Moms and Dads wield words as weapons daily.  An innocent and sweet child may be saddened by what is said to them.  Frequently, a lad or a lass, who has come to expect the worse is fretful, frightened, or apprehensive when near those who vocally attack.  After a time, a child turned teen, may appear angry, as an adult resigned, acquiescent when with Mom or Dad.  Still, the pain seeps out.  It spills onto all the injured individual encounters.

The cycle starts subtly.  It is all so subterranean.  How often is a child told, “You need to take responsibility”?  Yet, how frequently does neither guardian seems to accept that they play a part in what occurred in their own lives.  After a night on the town, too much food, and an abundance of alcoholic beverages, Dad may bellow, “Stay out of my way today if you know what’s good for you.”  Then, as if to inform his brood, father would offer, “I’m in a bad mood.”  Daddy does not wish to be liable for his own limitations.  Thus, if he was under duress, or hassled, surely, someone else must be to blame.

It is a “me against the world” mentality.  Those who command and seek control, the power they did not feel they had in their youth, see themselves as separate from the others.  Hence, the great divide.

Mom may be no different from Dad.  This sweet, soft-spoken woman, a mother committed to her children often commented, “My life would have been perfect if it were not for you.”  She would then say, “Get out of my sight; you are a bad boy, a hateful, ungrateful girl.”  Then, moments later, Mommy would say how much she loved you, or I.  Life and love, as a child, and later as an adult can be caustic, chaotic, and troublesome, even if we emerge confidently.  Either parent can do the damage.  Both can build the barriers that teach one of the brood to be boldly brazen.

Weeks ago, Americans watched an esteemed achiever, a Presidential aspirant, vent wrathful words.  The statements  made echoed in every American household.  On television and radio airwaves we heard, “Shame on you. “It is time you (act in a manner) consistent with your messages in public.  That is what I expect from you.  (L)et’s have a debate about your tactics and your behavior  . . .”  Only days prior, we, as a nation, were moved by the magnanimous words, “(Y)ou know, no matter what happens in this contest — and I am honored, I am honored to be here with [the same person who was slammed two days later.] I am absolutely honored.”  Hours before the homage was delivered in a face-to-face encounter, the self-proclaimed “fighter” raged, she was ready. The person she humiliated after offering a sincere homage was not.  Then, in a fit of anger, this eloquent and accomplished adult exclaimed to her audience, “Let’s get real.”

On an occasion or two, the New York Senator states if she and her adversary worked as one, all dreams would come true.  Quickly, Hillary Rodham Clinton reminds us that the same individual who she thinks praiseworthy is incompetent.  He cannot command; nor is he qualified.  The waling wounded Clinton claims the man who might steal her win is but a “child.”  She demeans his experience while she exaggerates her own.  In a breath, the scared child, now a grown Senator, cries out.  The former First Lady, who continues to carry the weight of a world built on pain within her, tells us the man who angers her is eloquent, admirable, and yet, inadequate.

One day this wise woman is passive or polite; then in the next moment she is aggressive and antagonistic. As Hillary Clinton speaks of  Uniting the States,  creating a cohesive Democratic Party, she works to divide these entities.  She loves her country, her challenger, and her community; yet . . .

The push-pull of these love-hate relationships may remind us of what too many of us as children and adults experience in our family homes.  In the “United” States, division, derision, declarations that divide a union are natural.  Most accept the conventions that have been familiar throughout their lives.  Few are disturbed by the divisiveness a Presidential candidate puts forth.  Perchance, the American people relate.  Might we consider the climate that was the candidate’s childhood, her history, and the truth that fashioned her family?

The couple fought. In 1926, Dorothy’s father filed for divorce, claiming that his wife had hit him in the face and scratched him on three separate occasions, according to Cook County records.  In a March 1927 court hearing, Della Howell’s own sister accused her of abusing her husband and abandoning her two daughters.

“She had a violent temper and flew at him in a rage, and would fight him,” testified the sister, Frances Czeslawski.

Della Howell did not show up to contest the divorce — she could not be found by subpoena servers.  Dorothy’s father was given custody.  But, either unwilling or unable to take care of his daughters, he put them on the train to California, where his parents, Edwin Howell Sr. and Emma Howell, had moved a few years previously. . . .

The grandparents were ill-prepared to raise Dorothy and her sister, Isabelle.

Edwin Howell Sr. had emigrated from Wales. He worked as a machinist in an auto plant and as a laborer for the Alhambra street department, according to Alhambra city directories from the time. He mostly left the girls’ care to his wife.

Emma Howell was a strict woman who wore black Victorian dresses and discouraged visitors and parties.  Once, discovering that Dorothy had gone trick-or-treating on Halloween, she ordered her confined to her room for a year except for school.

“Her grandmother was a severe and arbitrary disciplinarian who berated her constantly, and her grandfather all but ignored her,” Clinton wrote. . .

“Once I asked my mother why she went back to Chicago,” Clinton wrote in “Living History.” The answer? “‘I’d hoped so hard that my mother would love me that I had to take the chance and find out,’ she told me. ‘When she didn’t, I had nowhere else to go.’

Too many of us can recall a time when we wanted to be appreciated, admired, accepted by those who brought us into the world, or taught us to be the best we could be.  Even when those we care for harm us, we still crave their adoration.  A child who feels less than cherished will try harder.  Humans will do whatever they believe they must do in hopes that someday, they will be treasured by their first teachers, the people they call family.

Hillary was the best student among her siblings, the one who took her parents’ lessons most seriously. . .

Hugh Rodham, unlike many other fathers of his era, raised his daughter to be ambitious.  When she brought home straight A’s, Rodham would say, “Well, Hillary, that must be an easy school you go to,” she [Presidential hopeful, Hillary Clinton] wrote. . .

Hugh Rodham took thrift to even greater heights than many survivors of the Depression. If Hillary, Hugh Jr., or Tony left the cap off the toothpaste, he would toss it out the window and send the child to search for it.  An allowance was out of the question. “I feed you, don’t I?” she remembers him saying.

Clinton speaks of her father admiringly, but  . . . no one disputes his gruffness. “He was character building, like our winters in Chicago,” Ebeling, Clinton’s best friend, said. . . .

He was “highly opinionated, to put it mildly,” [Hillary] Clinton wrote. “We all accommodated his pronouncements . . .

Hilary is as many warriors in society are.  She expects the electorate to tolerate her brusque, sometimes demeaning, statements, just as she accepted much of what her father said.  If the people wish to argue with the aspirant, as occasionally she did with her dear Dad, Clinton thinks that is fine.  After all, she is a fighter.  She knows how to win.  Just as Hugh Rodham did when he felt his children were uncontrollable, the dictatorial, decidedly aggressive decider known as Dad escalated the argument.  “You are with me or against me” is a common refrain among those who command cruelly.

Many progeny adapt to parents who can be punitive.  After a time, offspring learn, the boundaries that divide them are best when they remain as invisible, just as the wounds on the heart are.  Children convince themselves, they are strong.  They are in control.  As long as they go along to get along all will be well, and it will be, until the next emotional upheaval.  Even then, those who scream and demean will be fine, for what they experience is familiar.

I offer a personal anecdote, one that helped me to understand the divide that exists among us in America.  There are the “fighters” well-trained to battle, and the peacemakers, those who talk in tones that are more tranquil.

I realized this only in recent years.  A time ago, after I had lived on this glorious green Earth for more than three decades I thought I understood people.  I experienced much in my lifetime.  As a child, I settled in the suburbs, the city, and the country. In my earliest years may family had all the fineries. We were exceptionally wealthy. Then, there was the divorce.  My Mommy, new Daddy a sister, and I were extremely poor when I was in Elementary School.  Eventually we evolved into Middle Class.  I felt as though we were average.

At seventeen years of age, I declared my independence. I left home, lived on my own, and struggled to earn enough money to survive. I inhabited neighborhoods not thought to be safe.  My knowledge of life and it’s various styles, I believed was expansive.

Then, it occurred. I met a man.  Immediately, I knew I loved him.  I had never been easily impressed.  Romantic relationships were not part of my repertoire.  This person, I perceived as beyond special.  I admired him, and I intensely appreciated him.  This gentleman was brilliant.  He was very successful.  He smiled ever so warmly.  Until . . .  suddenly, he yelled.  The wrath was intended for me.  As Gary excitedly expressed his disgust, his face was flush.  His eyes and veins were bulging.  This cherished chap was agitated, accusatory, and exceptionally anxious.  To this day, I know not why.  I have asked.  Yet, an explanation was not forthcoming.

As Gary ranted and raged, I stood frozen, as a deer in headlights.  I was stunned.  In my whole life, no one had ever yelled at me, or so I thought, previous to that day.  There was one other occasion.

That narrative aside, as Gary and I stood face to face, as he screamed and shrieked, he articulated the assertion, “You are having a tantrum.”  I marveled. I am a calm person.  As a child, I was just as serene.  In my entire life, I did not recall being explosive.  As I observed Gary and listened to his words, I was uncertain which aspect of this encounter was more amazing to me, his conduct, or his contention.  After, the damn or dam broke, he seemed free of his agitation.  I was anxious, although still silent.  I knew not what to say or do.  What had I witnessed?  What did it mean?  How did I feel about it?

In time, I did learn as Hillary Clinton, and others whose hearts are hurt by words, do.  I could choose to tolerate the brusque and debasing language. I could choose to appease, to please, or to patronize.  However, I also understood no matter what I decided to do, there would be consequences.  There would always be a chasm between Gary and I.  I would never fully feel comfortable, for I did not know what might bring on another brutal belch of bitterness.

I walked on eggshells, and he, with all his hollering, hoped to secure the impression that he walked on water.  I came to discover that Gary had been challenged all his life.  His parents were the purveyors of agenda after agenda.  As a child he had felt as he now teaches others to feel, as though he was and is less than.  Gary was told too often, he was not good enough, smart enough; he was wrong.  If Gary received an excellent evaluation in class, he too was meet with the remark similar to the ones the New York Senator heard in her youth.   “Well, that subject is just too simple.”  “An “A” grade is not good enough.”

Dissect a heart.  Dismember a sweet spirit.  It is the American way, divide and conquer.  In a competitive society, where cruelty is common, most everyone will suffer, so that the few spoiled souls can feel, even if only for a moment, that they have succeeded.  Sadly, their triumph is our demise.

Gary, Hillary, and too many we encounter have become so familiar with belligerent behaviors they no longer think there are other ways to work with people.

I was raised in a family where no one yells.  To say I am jarred by loud aggressive rants is to understate what I feel.  For a time, I team-taught with an instructor deemed superior.  This person won District-wide awards.  I understood why when I assessed the curriculum this teacher originated.  Yet, this individual chastised students vociferously and with ample abandon.  When in a rage, this educator’s voice traveled throughout the building.  I literally jumped in fright on more than one occasion.

Even without the volume, this teacher’s words could cut like a knife.  When the venom was directed at me, I froze.  I am extremely sensitive to the lexis.  The phrases this instructor used were not part of my reality.  Our philosophies on life were disparate.  Yet, I truly enjoyed this individual when the conversation was amiable.  When jovial, the professor was a delight.  Indeed, this person often was happy and genuinely fun.

When a scream was heard through the walls, students and I would react.  Some smiled.  A few laughed nervously.  Others and I were startled.  We cringed.  When the world was again calm, quietly, throughout the room, discussions emerged.  The demeanor of this academic was the topic.  Talk of the teacher was approached tenderly.  As I listened, I learned.  If a person grows up in a home where one particular approach to life is normal, they learn to accept and appreciate that manner of expression.  People who were taught to expect verbal lashings, as Hillary Clinton noted, learn to accommodate or accept.

If cruel criticisms were common in a home; howls were considered to be a sign, someone cares, painful as that might be. Those never exposed to love that did not hurt could not imagine the possibility.  Tis a sad state in this union, when those we treasure most are the ones we whip to a pulp with words.  A country divided cannot stand.

Perchance it is time to truly discuss what divides America. Dollars and legal documents are not divisive.  Paper does not have the power to pull us apart.  Race cannot physically separate us.  In nature, every hue is a significant part of the whole.  Religion does not cause a rift between neighbors.  A philosophy can only teach us.  Principles do not reach into our souls and cause us to slice and dice.  It is we who control the chaos that drives a wedge between our brethren and we.

Might Americans come together at home and on every avenue?  From Wall Street to Main Street let us speak kindly to each other.  Let us teach the children well.  

Perhaps, it is time to tell those you share a life with that you revere them without reservations.  If we choose to use words that consistently show we care for those we love, perhaps, peace will have a chance.  If our words were to mirror our stated beliefs, possibly, money would have no power, color could do no harm, and religious principles would be evident in our every expression.  Please, imagine and work to give birth to what for too long was thought impossible.  Let us live in an America, united in more than name only.

Sources, Scars, Screams in a divided society . . .

Homage to Lawrence King. Teach Tolerance To Adults and Children

Love Not Hate

copyright © 2008 Betsy L. Angert

“The opposite of love is not hate; it’s indifference.

The opposite of art is not ugliness; it’s indifference.

The opposite of faith is not heresy; it’s indifference.

And the opposite of life is not death; it’s indifference.”

~ Elie Wiesel

It was February 14, 2008, Valentine’s Day.  Love was in the air.  However, the expressions of appreciation offered were mournful.  Doctors informed the family and his friends, Lawrence King, 15, was removed from life support.  Two days earlier, young Larry was in the computer lab at E. O. Green Junior High in Oxnard, California.  He sat with 24 other students when Brandon McInerney walked into the room with a gun.  The armed classmate, fourteen-years of age, approached Lawrence with intent.  Brandon aimed his weapon, pulled the trigger, and shot Lawrence in the head.  Without hesitation, the shooter ran from the building.  Circumstances led observers and police officers to conclude the act was intentional, calculated, and a conscious choice.  Brandon committed what is commonly defined as a “hate crime.”

Students were locked in classrooms.  Grief and disbelief filled the air.  Adults tried to calm the children.  Teens tried to cope.  Peers were befuddled.  Pupils sought information and shared what they knew.  After the event, fingers flew across cellular telephone keypads.  Text messages were sent and received from schoolroom to schoolroom.  The words were, “Brandon McInerney did the deed.”  ‘Not Brandon McInerney, No way.’

“Brandon wouldn’t do this,” eighth-grader Jessica Lee remembers thinking. “He’s a good kid. It can’t be Brandon.”

But some at the Oxnard junior high school had seen Larry, 15, teased by students in the weeks before the shooting for being gay and wearing high-heeled boots and makeup. Some witnessed confrontations between Larry and Brandon, with Larry teasing Brandon and saying he liked him.

Family members and friends described Larry as a sweet, artistic boy who loved to sing and didn’t understand why people reacted negatively to him.

Brandon, 14, a tall, athletic eighth-grader, was described by friends and acquaintances as a mellow, focused kid, but one who wouldn’t back down in a confrontation.

Brandon had learned his lessons well.  He learned to feel deeply.  Indifference was not part of his repertoire, intolerance was.  Perhaps from within the womb, he began his education.  Those who in an act of love came together to give birth to Brandon, apparently knew nothing more than volatile loathing.  Perchance, Brandon’s mother, Kendra and his father, William were raised to love or hate, but not tolerate.

We can be certain that baby Brandon did as all infants do  after birth, he absorbed all the messages that surrounded him. .  Education is not an isolated entity.  Knowledge is not gained only in a classroom.  Our first school is called home.  Structured lessons may inform us; however, these are never internalized as deeply as the wisdom we acquire at the knees of our Mom and Dad.  Parents have a profound influence on a child.  Those we love most have the power to teach us more.  Definitely, the occurrence taught Brandon what to do when he felt troubled.

Kendra McInerney, Brandon’s mother, claimed a night of partying in 1993 ended in a fight and William shooting her in the elbow, breaking it in several places, according to court records. Still, they married later that year, and Brandon was born in January 1994.

The fighting didn’t stop, and sometimes it was witnessed by Brandon and his two older half-brothers, according to court records. In 2000, William pleaded no contest to a domestic battery charge against Kendra. He was sentenced to 10 days in jail and ordered to attend domestic violence classes. The couple separated in August 2000.

Love, or familiarity can breed contempt.  Even when someone no longer shares a physical space with the person that causes him or her distress that individual remains intimately connected in the heart.  Parting is not a sweet sorrow.  Indeed, it is often the source of more pain.  Indifference is rarely evident once an emotional bond is formed.  

For Kendra and William McInerney, separation did nothing to alleviate the angst they felt or expressed. , Nor, did living apart make life more livable for  the children.  Drinking, drugs, and violence were daily transgressions in Brandon’s life.  The stories are stark.  Yet, fortunately, it appeared Brandon survived.  Indeed, some would say he thrived.

Through all the family turmoil, Brandon got involved in activities outside the home, including martial arts and lifeguard training. He seemed to want something more than just the status quo of Silver Strand, Crave said.

“He didn’t want to be involved in that whole thing,” Crave said, gesturing at friends drinking a few beers nearby after getting off work.

Brandon joined the Young Marines – the Marine Corps’ equivalent of a JROTC program – several years ago and became a leader in the group, which disbanded last summer.

“Brandon was a young man that I would never have figured something like this would happen to,” said Mel Otte, his commanding officer.

Otte said he never witnessed Brandon showing a short temper and that he would have been kicked out of the group if he had bullied other kids.

“He was an outstanding young man,” Otte said.  “What happened since I left, I have no idea.”

What occurred did not take place in a instant.  The image of restraint did not transcend an earlier reality.  Change did not come on in a flash.  Often calm is a facade for the chaos that lay beneath the surface of a boy [girl, woman, or man] who battles emotional upheavals.  What was real for Brandon is true for each of us.  We learn and live what we believe is customary.  

Even those of us who “know better,” or are exposed to impressive amounts of information, organized to challenge unhealthy conventions, do as we have seen done, or was done to us.  Some escape the affects of sensory overload for a time.  Few abandon family traditions until long they have repeatedly fallen from grace.  Only an individual forced to face his or her “demons” day in and day out thinks to learn new habits.  

We all love easily.  We loathe with less effort.  What we do not do well is authentically accept others.  Few beings bother to have compassion, to learn from those who look, think, feel, or act differently.  Without empathy, everyone is a possible enemy.

Hate, or fear, of what we do not understand, motivates many a mind to react aggressively.  Apprehension and anxiety are not logical.  None of our emotions are.  Nevertheless, all too often humans, prideful of an intellectual capacity, are galvanized by feelings.  We are threatened by what we feel terrorizes us.  

For Brandon it was a boy who thought him fine.  For adults it may be a secret admirer, or an individual who has authority over us.   The neighbor who was unkind could seem a danger.  Mature men or women may believe the man in the automobile in front of them is a menace.  Even a small girl, on the corner, with her fingers out-stretched in a sign of peace could seem a hazard if our habit is to adopt an angry stance when we feel annoyed.  

People are familiar with what deeply disturbs them.  They know all too well how to demonstrate love and hate. Indifference is doable, as long as an n individual does not see or hear those outside their sphere.  Benevolence, perhaps that is the reaction, the action we do not learn from birth.

We all crave a connection.  Humans have needs.  Individuals long to be included, intimately involved; we wish to feel as though we have the right and power to make decisions for ourselves.  Men, women, and children are not indifferent.  Hence the dilemma.

When it seems we are unable to manage our world, humans freak.  Each of us responds differently, understandably.  Intellectually, people may recognize they cannot control the universe.  However, when stressed, we discover the habits we hold dear remain intact.  Our reactions are not innate, just well studied.  Brandon McInerney was not a bad boy.  He is a human being.  He reacted as he had learned to do.  Barely fourteen years of age, Brandon expressed his deep disdain for a situation and someone he could not control.

Chaos abounds.  Nonetheless, we try.  Too often, we fail.  A senseless murder, and what assassination is not absurd, illustrates what occurs when someone does not feel fulfilled and knows not what to do.  People in physical or psychological pain lash out in the ways they know how.

Brandon McInerney was baffled, no terrified, by the actions of another boy.  Lawrence did not cause bodily harm to his peer.  He did no verbal damage, at least not intentionally.  Paradoxically, when Larry spoke of Brandon, he articulated his sincere admiration.  That is what bothered the young boy Brandon.  Love, especially when expressed unconventionally, caused Brandon’s heart and mind to break.  The young lad, now passed, Larry, did not bully Brandon or his buddies.  Indeed, the other boys hassled Lawrence prior to his final day.

In recent weeks, the victim, Lawrence King, 15, had said publicly that he was gay, classmates said, enduring harassment from a group of schoolmates, including the 14-year-old boy charged in his death.

McInerney, now in custody, refuses to speak of what motivated him.  His lawyer offers the fourteen year old is too young to fully understand his actions.  Perhaps all people are too immature to rationalize the unreasonable, revulsion, repulsion, and feelings of repugnance.

What is hate?  Certainly, it is an emotion, as inexplicable as fondness.  Each can be voiced to the extreme.  Neither is inconsequential.  Perhaps, when humans feel adoration or antipathy they lose all perspective.  The chemistry we feel when we connect intensely is uncontrollable.  If only people could capture the energy and place it in a bottle before they pop.

Assemblyman Mike Eng (Democrat, Monterey Park), chairman of the Assembly Select Committee on Hate Crimes, said we would, with a bit of money directed towards teaching diversity, be able to stop crimes against people based on race, religion, ethnicity, or sexual orientation.

“My bill is focusing on [hate crime] prevention,” Eng said after a news conference at his El Monte district office. “We already have bills on the books about proper punishment; mine will focus on dealing with hatred in a school setting.”

Eng hopes to create a pilot program by allocating up to $150,000 to establish a diversity and sensitivity curriculum at a few school districts.  The pilot program would serve as a model to be used to develop lesson plans statewide.

Others in the community believe the proposed program only serves to comfort parents and Principals, adults, and not adolescents.  Countless argue that similar programs such as D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education), D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education), are ineffective.  These simplistic strategies always were nothing more than slogans used to appease anxious adults.  Although these agendas survive, they do not strengthen the will or the character of the young persons they serve.  At times, instruction is as indifference.  If you do not know what to do,  or say about an open wound, look for an easy answer.  Apply salve, and walk away.  Most of us truly believe the sore will eventually heal by itself.

Here’s a news flash: “Just Say No” is not an effective anti-drug message. And neither are Barney-style self-esteem mantras . . .

DARE, which is taught by friendly policemen in 75 percent of the nation’s school districts, has been plagued by image problems from the beginning, when it first latched on to Nancy Reagan’s relentlessly sunny and perversely simplistic “Just say No” campaign.  The program’s goals include teaching kids creative ways to say “no” to drugs, while simultaneously bolstering their self-esteem (which DARE founders insist is related to lower rates of drug use). . . .

According to an article published in the August 1999 issue of the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, DARE not only did not affect teenagers’ rate of experimentation with drugs, but may also have actually lowered their self-esteem. . . .

The findings were grim: 20-year-olds who’d had DARE classes were no less likely to have smoked marijuana or cigarettes, drunk alcohol, used “illicit” drugs like cocaine or heroin, or caved in to peer pressure than kids who’d never been exposed to DARE.  But that wasn’t all. “Surprisingly,” the article states, “DARE status in the sixth grade was negatively related to self-esteem at age 20, indicating that individuals who were exposed to DARE in the sixth grade had lower levels of self-esteem 10 years later.”  Another study, performed at the University of Illinois, suggests some high school seniors who’d been in DARE classes were more likely to use drugs than their non-DARE peers.

Still, Americans, intent on straightforward solutions, quick fixes, and immediate gratification, forget that life is not so simple. The family teaches children from birth.  The lessons we learn in our youngest years are internalized deeply.  In infancy, each day we encounter our mother, father, or guardian, the people we need most, and most want to love us.  As toddlers, we are intimately involved with our caregivers, even if they do not seem to care for us.  When we are children, the only choice that we have, the only option that gives us a sense of control, is to cling to those who help us survive.  Moms and Dads are our first and best, teachers, if only because they are there in whatever capacity.

However, sadly, for some of us, such as Brandon McInerney our mentors did not teach us well.  Schools try to suffice.  Teachers with ten, twenty forty to a class try to create a relationship with each student.  As educators teach Math, Science, Reading, and English, they work to provide a sense of self-worth to each and every young scholar.  For a few hours, five days a week, a troubled youngster can call his or her classroom home.  

For young people such as Larry, school may have been a place to blossom, somewhere where he felt safe, or for both the boys an educational institution may have been the place where lessons begun at birth were reinforced.  Each was teased, bullied, and verbally battered.  Each had friends.  However, they may not have felt they achieved an authentic intimate connection with anyone.  Even acquaintances can say . . .

“He had a character that was bubbly,” Marissa said. “We would just laugh together. He would smile, then I would smile, and then we couldn’t stop.”

An ally in life does more than smile or laugh.  Larry King may have felt he had few real supporters, in a school he attended for only months.  How close can two people be when they see each other only for hours and then each returns to their own abode.  One may return to the place they consider “Home Sweet Home,” the other may reside in an institution, far from those who are “supposed” to love him.

For several months before to the shooting, Larry had been living at Casa Pacifica, a residential center for troubled youths in Camarillo.

Lawrence’s parents are alive and well, as are his four siblings, a younger brother, two older brothers, and an older sister.  While the family spoke lovingly of the dearly departed, they dared not speak of why the lad no longer lived with them.  Many children today are placed in treatment agencies.  The numbers are staggering.  The reasons are astounding.  Yet, when people know not how to love well, and are not indifferent, they do what they may hate to do.

The number of children placed in residential treatment centers (or RTCs) (1) is growing exponentially.(2) These modern-day orphanages now house more than 50,000 children nationwide.(3)  Children are packed off to RTCs, often sent by officials they have never met, who have probably never spoken to their parents, teachers or social workers.(4) Once placed, these kids may have no meaningful contact with their families or friends for up to two years.(5) And, despite many documented cases of neglect and physical and sexual abuse, monitoring is inadequate to ensure that children are safe, healthy and receiving proper services in RTCs.(6) By funneling children with mental illnesses into the RTC system, states fail-at enormous cost-to provide more effective community-based mental health services.(7)

RTC placements are often inappropriate.

RTCs are among the most restrictive mental health services and, as such, should be reserved for children whose dangerous behavior cannot be controlled except in a secure setting.(8) Too often, however, child-serving bureaucracies hastily place children in RTCs because they have not made more appropriate community-based services available.(9) Parents who are desperate to meet their kids’ needs often turn to RTCs because they lack viable alternatives.(10)

To make placement decisions, families in crisis and overburdened social workers rely on the institutions’ glossy flyers and professional websites with testimonials of saved children.(11)  But all RTCs are not alike.(12)  Local, state and national exposés and litigation “regarding the quality of care in residential treatment centers have shown that some programs promise high-quality treatment but deliver low-quality custodial care.”(13) As a result, parents and state officials play a dangerous game of Russian roulette as they decide where to place children, because little public information is available about the RTCs, which are under-regulated and under-supervised.

Yet, parents and community services agencies take those who are perhaps most vulnerable, our young and troubled teens, and place them in Residential Treatment Centers not able to provide minimal care.  When we, as a culture consider other options, and other means for childcare, we cannot but think of poor Brandon and how he suffered at the hands of his mother and father.  We are reminded that Brandon, the tormented shooter, lived in a location he called home.  We might wonder; which situation was better, worse, or can we even compare the traumas each child in this story suffered.

Brandon and Larry are not anomalies.  They are not alone.  Children throughout our country are taught to express love in a violent manner.  The little ones watch adults they admire model cruelty.  The young are trained to demonstrate their contempt similarly.  Sadistic reactive behaviors rule in our society.  Listen to people ruthlessly scream in the marketplace.  Consider the abundance of “hate crimes” in America.  Turn on the television.  Tune into the radio.  Read the “literature.”  Hostile conduct is commended and condoned.

For too many of our offspring, aggression in their daily existence is the norm.  They hear it in their homes; see their parent bludgeon each other.  As toddlers, tots, children, or teens our youth feel the bruises on their back, and remember the bones broken by those they love most.  Ponder the statistics.

During FFY 2005, an estimated 899,000 children in the 50 States, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico were determined to be victims of abuse or neglect.
  • Children in the age group of birth to 3 years had the highest rate of victimization at 16.5 per 1,000 children of the same age group in the national population;
  • More than one-half of the victims were 7 years old or younger (54.5%)
  • More than one-half of the child victims were girls (50.7%) and 47.3 percent were boys; and
  • Approximately one-half of all victims were White (49.7%); one-quarter (23.1%) were African-American; and 17.4 percent were Hispanic.

Gender preference did not determine maltreatment when infants and the very young among were involved.  Specific biases are learned as we “mature.”  While many wish to focus on Larry’s identification with the gay community as reason for such a horrific reaction, the cause for Brandon’s response goes far deeper. Scorn is rarely selective.  Disparagement is an equal opportunity employer.

Abusive behaviors are rooted in our personal history.  We cannot dismiss the fact that as a society, our past performances towards those we disdain are deplorable.  As a culture, emotional beings that we are, we embrace love and hate, and ignore indifference.

We must ask ourselves, what are we doing to our offspring from the day they enter this world, and why.  Answers offered after the fact, solutions that do not address the broader question will not stop the violence we see in schools.  Nor will it quash the mayhem or reduce the murders we see on our streets.  Hate crimes are born at home.  Mothers and fathers motivate much that occurs.  Moms and Dads often do what was done to them.

Children ‘learn violence from parents’

Children who witness domestic violence are at an increased risk of having abusive relationships as adults, researchers have found.

Being abused as a child and having behavioural problems also increases the risk of being violent as adults.  Receiving excessive punishment is another risk factor.  US researchers from Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and the New York State Psychiatric Institute followed 540 children for 20 years from 1975 . . .

If a pattern of violent behaviour towards a partner has been established, it is difficult to change say the researchers. . . .

If a child was hit by their parents, they were much more likely to see violence as a way of resolving problems as adults, the researchers found.

But seeing violence perpetuated between parents was found the be the greatest risk factor for being the victim of a violent partner as an adult.

Both men and women who witnessed domestic violence were likely to grow up to abuse their partners . . .

“This acceptance of coercive, power-based norms as ways of regulating conflict may have direct implications for young adults’ means of conflict resolution with partners, independent of a disruptive behaviour disorder.”

For too many of our young persons a forceful hand, a furious face, and a vicious voice are identified with those they are most fond of.  Children are confused.  In too many lives, love does not come easily.  Little ones do not know what authentic affection looks like.  As “mature” beings, some people seek the wisdom they did not acquire in their family homes.  They wish to learn of what could not have been fully integrated in a school curriculum.  Grown-up persons harmed by habits that debilitate a mind, body, heart, and soul know to their core, habits die hard.  Adult classes meant to teach as Assemblyman Eng proposed exist at West Virginia University an older person can study How To Communicate Love.  Learners are instructed, “Love comes from within.”  Students are advised to appreciate themselves.

Learning to love yourself will help create your personal appearance of love. If you do not know how to love yourself, you will not be able to love others. Loving yourself also means that you have a loving attitude in your actions and responses toward others; that you look for opportunities to help rather than be helped; that you communicate a loving appreciation of others with “thank you” and “please” as part of your vocabulary; that you forgive others and do not hold a grudge; and that you help people in need without thought of reward or recognition.

However, ultimately pupils are reminded of what Lawrence and Brandon have helped us realize.

How we communicate love to others is learned; we are not born with the ability to communicate love.

Nor are we born with the ability to hate.  Each of us, every man, woman, and child is well-trained.  If we are to truly end the violence that exists in schools, we must eliminate the hostility in our homes.  Assemblyman Eng, perhaps a program in parenting, one instituted in every community throughout the globe might be more effective than any instruction in a school.  If we are to truly teach forbearance to our progeny we must acknowledge parents, adults in every avenue are our life teachers.   Let us not speak of how best to teach the children tolerance.  We, their elders must learn how to love first.  Perhaps, if the elders begin to appreciate each other without brutality, next Valentine’s Day Cupid will not shoot arrow.  He will bestow gentle kisses on each of us.

“God knit Larry together and made him wonderfully complex.

Larry was a masterpiece.”

~ Reverend Dan Birchfield, Westminster Presbyterian Church

Sources, Societal Scars, Scabs . . .

“Be Afraid; Be Very, Very Afraid.” I Am. ©

It was early in the 1960s that I first learned of fear.  There was much apprehension.  The Cold War was on; it was with us each and every day.  It had been for decades.  In Capitalist countries such as the United States, children practiced rushing into Air-raid shelters.  Adults feared the possible threat of a bomb.  They taught their offspring to fear as well.  Underground safe houses were built.  In backyards throughout America, steel and concrete sanctuaries were established.  “The stakes were high.”  Yet, these circumstances and societal beliefs did not alarm me.

Lyndon Baines Johnson in his 1964 Democratic campaign spoke of the impending threat in a political advertisement.  This singular commercial came to be known as the “Daisy Ad.”  One transmission of that commercial was more than enough for the general public.  The broadcast was considered too controversial.  This public notice was not shown again.  All previously scheduled airings were canceled.  There was enough alarm within our society at-large.  Americans did not wish to be reminded of it in their living rooms.  However, beginning this weekend citizens of this country will again acquainted with fear as they watch their cable networks.

Please view each of these commercials.  The “Daisy Ad” is offered below.  The Grand Old Party presents “The Stakes are High!”  2006 at their website.

If I saw the one and only official screening of the Johnson commercial, I have no memory of it.  Whether I did or did not see the ad, I do think it would have affected me as deeply as a personal experience did.  I did learn of “fear” in the 1960s. 

My Mom and her encounter with an unnamed man that burglarized my family home taught me of terror.  I did not come to understand it as President Johnson may have wished me to do in 1964.  Nor will I accept the supposed lesson President Bush and his Republican cronies are now intending to teach me.  I have seen and heard “The stakes are high” in the newest Republican political campaign.  I have heard our “fair” leader declare, “Be afraid; be very, very afraid,” and I am, though not of Osama Bin Laden.

Ticking clocks and bombs that might possibly explode do not frighten me as much as man himself does.  Images of Osama Bin Laden might scare me.  A young frightened face can paralyze me.  Bush bellowing his belief, we must “rid the world of the evil-doers” causes me great grief and anxiety.  However, none of these negates the lesson I learned at a very young age.  “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself-nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”  Actually, each of the images in 1964 and 2006 campaign commercials solidify my understanding.  No matter what we do to protect ourselves from imagined fears, we cannot change the will of others.

Each of these public notices proclaim, “The stakes are high.”  Yes, “The stakes are high,” particularly in this election year.  Sadly, they are getting higher.  I could rejoice as some Democrats do and begin to declare victory.  I might imagine the Republicans are running scared.  However, I believe the Progressives, Liberals, Democrats, and Independents are as well.  Fear is flourishing all around us.  Thus, campaigns such as this newer advertisement can be successfully introduced.  They may fail.  I know not.  I only observe the climate is right for such a cynical campaign.

I understand as many do.  As Americans reflect on the fall of Saddam Hussein, they assess the once declared victory, and they ponder the effects of the Iraqi War.  As they do so they realize “spreading democracy” is not the “bed of roses” they were told it would be.  Currently, many of our countrymen and women think they have more to fear than fear itself.  American citizens are apprehensive about the future. 

In pondering what will be, constituents are concluding they must rid themselves of what we have now.  Today we have a Republican controlled House, Senate, and White House.  This is scary, at least for some, myself included. 

However, I ask as many do, will the Democrats truly do better?  I sigh and trust they cannot do worse.  Nevertheless, most of those on the Left initially supported the war.  A war I did not and do not support.  I never have advocated violence of any sort. 

I acknowledge that the Left, the “Right,” and the Middle are each mired in a belief that I do not hold.  They think we can eliminate terrorism by aggressing against the aggressor.  We can secure our borders and protect ourselves from invaders.  Americans seem to believe that we can control the will of others through punitive or mechanical protective measures.  I think these beliefs are such foolishness.

I share this true story to illustrate my conviction.  In the 1960s, my family was living in a very affluent neighborhood in the North East suburbs of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  My Mom was home alone.  A man broke into our home.  He jimmied an unlocked window to gain entrance. 

This intruder stumbled upon my Mom.  He panicked and threatened to rape her.  She did not resist; she craved no confrontations.  The thief feared her openness and proceeded to place her in the living room closet.  In his terror, he neglected to lock the wardrobe door.  The robber stole a car, money, and material goods, then left.  When my Mom felt certain the man was gone, she exited her cubbyhole and telephoned the police.

After this experience my Mom concluded, if a person wishes to commit a crime, they will.  If this burglar chose to use a crow bar to pry open an unlocked window, why secure the portals at all.  People, with intent are powerful.

I propose we must understand the motivation of a man or woman if we are to prevent future outrages.  The mind is our master.  Where there is a will, there is a way. 

Thus, I ask, in the future will we address human will as a means of prevention, or will we continue to charge ahead telling others they must change.  I inquire; if we do what was done, will we ever be effective.  Will peace ever come?

I believe a superpower with bombs will do little to maintain national security.  A President making broad pronouncements will not deliver us from “evil.”  Our shores will not be safe when we see enemies everywhere.  When we as a community look suspiciously at certain ethnic origins then we create what we fear, discordance.

I surmise as long as we, the people, accept a world where bombs are built, people will build bombs.  I trust that when our countrymen proudly promote war, or any form of combat, as an option, then people will die in such conflicts.  I offer, we can lock our doors; close our borders, troll our telephones, remove our shoes at airports, or argue the effectiveness of advertisements that promote fear.  As long as we focus on such follies, nothing will change.

Thieves will pry open unlocked windows, because that is what they do or believe they need to.  Terrorists will capture airplanes, and fly these into buildings.  That is what they think is reasonable.  Television campaigns and political parties will tell us to fear.  This strategy has often proven to be a “winning way” in the past.  You might recall numerous electors were thankful that Ronny saw the bear in the woods.

“Right,” Left, or wrong, 2006 is reminiscent of 1964.  We see evidence; life goes on just as it has.  We can debate this commercial or that.  Nevertheless, change will come only when we ourselves choose to change. 

Please recall, Democrats and Republicans alike have used “scare tactics” to promote their agendas.  Perchance, we need not question the strategy.  I think we must query ourselves.  How often do we work to protect ourselves from self-perceived foes?  Could we not challenge our perceptions and succeed in creating alliances?  I sigh and say, let the commercial come; it will not influence my perception.  As I assess society, then or now, I know that I experience deep sadness.  Oh, how I crave peace and perceptions of unity.

  • May I offer a paradoxical and poignant phrase uttered by former President Lyndon Baines Johnson at the close of his now infamous commercial.  Poet, Wystan Hugh Auden wrote the beautiful acknowledgement;
    “We must either love each other.  Or we must die.”

  • Please review the “Daisy Advertisement.”  Listen intently and ponder the prospect of love or death.

    ? Please appraise “These Are The Stakes.”  The clock is ticking or so we are told.

  • Please Peruse The Reasons For Fear . . .

  • Classic Political Ad: Daisy Girl (1964)
  • Republican edge on security wanes as elections near, By Liz Sidoti. Associated Press. USA Today. October 21, 2006
  • “The Stakes are High!” Republican National Committee
  • “Only Thing We Have to Fear Is Fear Itself”: FDR’s First Inaugural Address History Matters.
  • Low Blows and High Rhetoric: Political Ads on Television, By Maggie Riechers. Humanities. July – August Edition. 1999, Volume 20. Number 4
  • Going Negative: How Political Advertisements Shrink and Polarize the Electorate,  By Stephen Ansolabehere and Shanto Iyengar. Quill Magazine. Stanford University. May 1996
  • Scary Ads Take Campaign to a Grim New Level, By Jim Rutenburg. The New York Times. October 17, 2004
  • The Man Behind The Movement, By Jack Beatty. Atlantic Unbound. August 8, 2001
  • Bush vows to rid the world of ‘evil-doers.’ By Manuel Perez-Rivas. Cable News Network. September 16, 2001
  • Bear (Reagan) The Museum of the Moving Image
  • W. H. Auden.
  • A politics of love, By James Carroll. Boston Globe. October 19, 2004
  • Bush To Iran. “Do What I Say; Not What I Do!” ©

    I am the least or perhaps among the most qualified to speak on America’s nuclear weapons policy.  It is not that I have much information.  Facts and figures are not flowing from my fingertips.  I am admittedly naïve and proud of it.  World harmony is the melody I hum.  I never thought that war was an option.  For me, battles are not the first or last resort.  I am against all aggressions, nuclear or otherwise.

    I am a peaceful person in my proclamations; I prefer gentle, caring philosophies and practices.  I denounce the use of artillery.  I want no armaments or ammunition.  I see no reason for manufacturing these.  Yet, we do.  Americans produce more powerful arsenals than all other countries.  We do this as we denounce other countries for even considering the same, though some of us do not want it done it in our name.  For the United States, for this Administration, war is often the  preferred policy.  We prepare for it and work to ensure that others will not.

    In this writing, I invite you, dear reader to ponder our posture towards Iran.  Then, extrapolate; expand your evaluation.  Reflect on our directives towards North Korea, South Africa, India, Israel, the United Kingdom,and the United States!  You choose.  There are many countries, contemplate them all.

    I offer; we as Americans are a nation of hypocrites.  Many define the US as a force to contend with; others claim it is only a farce.  A country consumed with nuclear weapons for itself, believes it has the “right” to demand that all other nations quash their plans for similar.  When they do not, our leaders declare these nation states “defiant,” nay “rogue” countries.

    Speaking at the American Legion national convention in Salt Lake City, Utah, our Commander and Chief said, the United States hopes for a diplomatic solution.  However, the “decider” insisted,  “it is time for Iran to make a choice.”  The bully man more than once uttered the famous phrase, “You are either with us or against us,” boldly bellowed, in our name “There must be consequences for Iran’s defiance.”  President Bush said, “We must not allow Iran to develop a nuclear weapon.”

    He loudly offered this proclamation because he could.  The audience, for the most part, was sympathetic.  Many members of the American Legion, as well as numerous citizens consider the USA the one and only the super power.  They support the belief; America must spread democracy.  Our principled philosophy and we must be the dominant influence worldwide.  They think themselves and our country superior in nature.  There is a holier than thou mentality that seems pervasive.  In the United States, this mostly religious republic, a majority of the public seem to believe we have the “right” to dictate to other nation states, “Do as I say, not as I do!”

    Currently, the President of the United States and his diplomatic forces are again insistent Iran suspend all research and development that relates to nuclear power.  It is too clear to US; Iran might use this technology against its enemies, Israel and the United States among them.  Imagine that, Iran might perceive the dictatorial nation of America a foe.  President Bush sounds friendly to me.

    Whether enriched uranium is to be used for practical or political means, according to America, Iran must not produce it, or so says our noble statesmen.

    Yet, we, in this country do not cease production.  We can and will manufacture the same.  We willingly proclaim that our purpose is to build warheads.  After all, we must be prepared to attack or defend.

    The United States knowingly pours more and more money into our nuclear programs.  We do this as we tell North Korea, Iran, and others that they may not.  I sigh, deeply.

    I could continue composing this exposé.  I might cite chapter and verse in my attempt to speak of this silliness.  However, I think it best that I offer this chart.  I believe that it speaks volumes and makes my case better than I might.

    The question weighing on my mind is how many times and how many ways must we destroy the world, all in the name of peace.

    For original documentation, please refer to Wikipedia, “List of countries with nuclear weapons.”

    *All numbers are estimates from the Natural Resources Defense Council, published in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, unless other references are given.  If differences between active and total stockpile are known, they are given as two figures separated by a forward slash. If no specifics are known, only one figure is given. Stockpile number may not contain all intact warheads if a substantial amount of warheads are scheduled for but have not yet gone through dismantlement; not all “active” warheads are deployed at any given time.  When a spread of weapons is given (e.g., 0-10), it generally indicates that the estimate is being made on the amount of fissile material, which has likely been produced, and the amount of fissile material needed per warhead depends on estimates of a country’s proficiency at nuclear weapon design.

    • Please read an excellent exposé by Maryscott O’Connor of My Left Wing fame.  I read Do As I Say, Not As I Do  months ago.  It resonated with me then, now, and even after all weapons are eliminated, I am certain that her words will remain with me.
    Protect and Defend Us.  Weapons and Words . . .

    Bush to Renew Defense of War Strategy, By Nedra Pickler. Associated Press. Salon. August 31,2006
    The Iran Plans, Seymour Hersh. The New Yorker.  April 8, 2006
    Bush Speaks at American Legion Convention, CQ Transcripts Wire. Washington Post. Thursday, August 31, 2006
    Bush warns Tehran anew on nuclear weapons program, By Anne Gearan. Associated Press. August 31, 2006
    The American Legion
    Nuclear Weapons, Waste & Energy.  Natural Resources Defense Council
    Archive of Nuclear Data. Natural Resources Defense Council
    North Korea’s nuclear program, 2005, By Robert S. Norris and Hans M. Kristensen. May/June 2005.  Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.
    South Africa: Uranium Enrichment, Business Day (Johannesburg). Editorial. AllAfrica Global Media. August 29, 2006
    Nuclear Power in India and Pakistan. World Nuclear Association.
    Britain’s nuclear arms run down, BBC News Monday, 29 November, 1999
    Britain’s Nuclear Weapons. Nuclear Weapon Archive. May 14, 2002
    50 Facts About U.S. Nuclear Weapons. The Brookings Institution.
    U.S. built major Iranian nuclear facility, By Sam Roe. Sun-Sentinel. August 23 2006
    PDF. U.S. built major Iranian nuclear facility, By Sam Roe. Sun-Sentinel. August 23 2006
    Global Security Nuclear Weapons. Union of Concerned Scientists. March 22, 2006
    “List of countries with nuclear weapons.” Wikipedia.

    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

    War in the Wind, Blast Buries New York City Building ©

    9/11 Photograph, By Ted S. Warren, Associated Press.
    WABC News. Photograph July 10, 2006.

    A building in New York City is buried.  Fires are blazing.  It is highly possible people were killed or injured.  The public speculates.  Could it be a bomb blast, an act of terrorism, homegrown or international?  Might the cause be a gas leak or an electrical explosion?  Perhaps, it is a crime of vengeance.  Early on, suicide was not considered.  For me, while the cause is important, it pales in comparison to the fact.

    War is in the air; it blows with the wind.  Acts of violence travel.  They cannot be isolated or contained to lands far from our shores.  If we accept war anywhere, we consent to it here.  Warfare is not a concept; it is concrete.  Combat comes easily to the minds of men or women in conflict.  Witness today, yesterday, and everyday.  We as a nation are at war.  While the struggle is far from our shores, it looms large in our collective psyche.

    Our leaders reassure us, and on the surface, Americans accept the façade they present.  [Some] Americans love when Bush bellows and Cheney chants, “We will confront them overseas so we do not have to confront them here at home.”  Americans applaud this non-sequitur logic.  They surmise war can be isolated and they are insulated.  In 2004, that was the battle cry.  There were no terrorist attacks on American shores since September 11, 2001.  Therefore, the theory was proposed, President Bush and his hawkish policies protected us.  Many accepted this as true.

    They then cast their ballots for this magnificent man.  They gave the Bush, Cheney team their mandate, or so that is how the Administration framed it.  Again, and again the Emperor exclaimed he had capital to spend and he spent it.  Thus, we have the cost of war.

    Causalities abound; the numbers are climbing.  Iraqi civilians are raped, maimed, murdered; yet, they do not count.  They are merely collateral damage.  Citizens of the United States remain safe, sane, or so it appears.  Thus, we support our President and allow him to continue in office.

    However, in our heart-of-hearts, we know; America is not out of harm’s way.  We recognize war is in the wind.  When a building explodes or implodes in New York City, we all panic with reason.  Citizens understand what they never wish to express.  As long as we accept war is an option, we are admitting that it can and will touch us, just as it affects our “enemies.”  No one is sheltered from the scars combat causes.

    King George II cannot protect and defend America from farther feuds; nor can Cheney or Rumsfeld.  These lovelies created what comes closer.  With thanks to our beloved President and his Cabinet, the possibility of war within the United States is real.

    For now, the prospect settles only in the recesses of our minds, and on drawing boards elsewhere.  Still, we all know the threat is valid.  Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice can rant and rage about States rights; yet, she too has no power to guard against the aggression she helped to promote.

    Once the notion is placed on the table, the tremors will be felt throughout the globe.  No man is an island; nor can any of us ever be insulated or isolated.

    After receiving many replies to this treatise, I realized that what might be so obvious to me, the writer, is not apparent, to many a dear reader.  Perchance I was not clear in my communication.

    Possibly some are so offended by this Administration and the ample accusations; terrorists are everywhere, they missed my message.  Those persons, and admittedly, typically I am among these, distrust Bush and the Bunch so much, that they see any talk of terrorism as a means for distracting Americans from the real issues.

    There are those that awoke hours after the initial blasts.  They already read and heard the theories.  These individuals knew the explosion was likely a suicide attempt.  Therefore, these bookworms thought I was telling tales.  I was stirring the National Security soup of the day.  For these persons, I was making an issue of what was nothing more than a “normal” event in the course of any day.

    Numerous persons are concerned even consumed with an exit strategy.  They want us out of Iraq and Afghanistan.  An event in a single day is not their focus.  These individuals might not question the entrance into war per se.  They struggle with the constant loss this conflict brings.  They may think stuff happens; hostilities occur, related to Iraq or not.

    I am repeatedly reminded, that as a whole, most people think war is an option, the one of last resort; however, the alternative is often considered acceptable.

    Conceivably, that may be the challenge.  When I wrote this treatise, I was speaking of my truth.  For me, “War is not an option, not now or ever!”  I do not think terrorism is a reason for combat.  I believe slavery, genocide, homicide, rape, and racism were not the causes of wars in the past.  Economic power and the desire for supremacy are, in my mind, the rationale behind battles and bickering.

    For me, the blast was a reminder of where we have been.  It is where we still are.  On this planet, war is in the wind!  It has been for centuries.

    For those that rose hours after investigations began, they could again sink into the comfort of complacency.  For the many that bash-Bush, more power to you.  I was not denying the validity of your beliefs.  I share these.  My only question was and is, why is war an option, ever?  I believe that if it is in the wind in the East, it will be in the air traveling westward.

    We can sit in the comfort of our cushy chairs.  We can profess how terrible the terrorist are or how awful the insurgent Bush is.  However, as long as we, Americans, allow for and accept war as an option, on our shores or on those aboard, then we can never know with certainty where the next strike will hit.  I think this is why those on the streets at the time of the blast were shaken.

    When I penned this missive, I was speaking to the stress exhibited by those there, near the building in New York City.  I was also addressing my own eternal anxiety.  Why is violent behavior ever an option?  Even now, believing the cause of the blast was an attempted suicide does not ease my mind.  Why do we aggressively strike out and hurt others or ourselves?

    I hope this communiqué helps to clarify my intent.  Perhaps, those that felt confused will re-visit the message.

    Please Peruse the Possibilities When War is in the Wind.

    Four-Story Building Collapses on East Side of Manhattan, New York Times. The Associated Press. July 10, 2006
    New York building collapses, burns, CNN News. July 10, 2006
    At least 11 injured in Manhattan building collapse, By Wil Cruz, Lauren Johnston and Chick Benett. July 10, 2006
    UPDATE 2-Building collapses in New York City, Reuters. July 10, 2006. 9:59am ET
    President Bush Discusses Progress in the War on Terror July 12, 2004
    Policies in Focus. National Security Strategy, The White House.
    Cost of War.
    Iraq Body Count.
    Bush has a big agenda for 2005, By David Gregory, Chief White House correspondent. NBC News. December 30, 2004
    President Holds Press Conference. “I earned capital in the campaign, political capital, and now I intend to spend it.” November 4, 2004
    Iraq insurgency in ‘last throes,’ Cheney says, CNN News. Monday, June 20, 2005
    Iraq: Collateral damage, By Ashok Mitra. India Limited. March 25, 2003
    Bush Began to Plan War Three Months After 9/11. Book Says President Called Secrecy Vital. By William Hamilton. Washington Post. Saturday, April 17, 2004
    How Many Dead Iraqis? Guessing about collateral damage. By Fred Kaplan. Slate.Tuesday, February 25, 2003
    Strictly Confidential. Likely Humanitarian Scenarios. United Nations Document.  December 10, 2002
    Collateral Damage or Civilian Massacre in Haditha?, By Tim McGirk, Baghdad. Time Magazine. March 19, 2006, PDF version
    The Promise of Democratic Peace, Why Promoting Freedom Is the Only Realistic Path to Security. By Condoleezza Rice. The Washington Post. Sunday, December 11, 2005
    Remarks at the American University in Cairo, By Secretary Condoleezza. Rice Cairo, Egypt. June 20, 2005
    “America will not impose our style of government on the unwilling. Our goal instead is to help others find their own voice, to attain their own freedom, and to make their own way.”
    The Iran Plans,
    Would President Bush go to war to stop Tehran from getting the bomb? By Seymour M. Hersh. The New Yorker. April 17, 2006
    North Korea missles rattle European markets, El Financiero en línea. July 5, 2006

    Assertion: To Defend America, We Must Attack Aggressively ©

    Americans were under attack.  It was September 11, 2001.  Ultimately, this peace-loving country initiated all out war.  The United States sought a broad coalition; however, the President and others were willing to go it alone.  This nation, its leaders, and citizens concluded their safety and stability were being threatened.  Our countrymen thought enemies were everywhere and thus, the battles began.  Policies were adopted.  The idea of privacy was altered.  The Patriot Act was drawn and passed.  The National Security Strategy for the United States of America was accepted.

    People throughout America were ready to protect themselves no matter what the cost.  Aggressive reactions were booming.  Americans declared loudly, “You are either with us or against us.”  If you choose to terrorize me or mine then you will be taken, “Dead or alive!”  Thus, the cycle begins again.  America believes, we must aggressively attack.

    Post-September 11, 2001, America went to war.  This was not the first time; nor do I think it will be the last.  Americans seem to accept a cycle of conflicts.  Some say it is the nature of man to war.  Others offer evolution as the rationale.  After all, man is descended from beasts; therefore, we as humans fight for our survival.  When Americans felt threatened, we brawl, batter, and beat our adversaries vehemently!  Enemies might be terrorist, Tories, or any persons or groups that tempts or taunts them.  However, none is a foe unless they pressure us [the people of the USA] personally.  On balance, we are people of peace; we believe in diplomacy.  We are a democratic nation.  Our history demonstrates this or does it.

    We work towards peace whenever possible.  We intentionally avoid conflict.  Confrontation must come to us before we engage.  The Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 during what was the Second World War to stop all wars.  Battles had been raging for two long years in Europe; Hitler and Mussolini were on the rise for years prior to the war.  While Chamberlain tried to quell the aggressive advances of these comrades, his own passivity, policy of appeasement, gave them strength.  The drum beats of warfare heightened.  However, the United States stayed distant.  Until, this country believed itself vulnerable they thought it was none of their business.  Americans wish to wound no one, unless provoked.

    We, the people of the United States loathe war, or so we say.  In truth, citizens of this nation love fighting. Repeatedly, our countrymen accept violence and reject harmony.  They claim this acceptance is reluctant; however, there is ample evidence that affirms the contrary.

    Frequently, I find myself saying “War is never an option,” to those advocating the effort.  I receive in retort this reply, “Brutality is justified when it is an act of self-defense.”  From my perspective, fighting is never an act; it is what we do when we react.  Actions are loving, they are giving they demonstrate care and concern.  When we take action, we are productive.  We yield growth.  Actions are lively and full of vigor.  When we react, we destroy!  A reaction is elicited when we fear for our families, our familiars, or for ourselves.  Pain causes a fight or flight response.

    Intellectually, Americans state, “War is the option of last resort”; however, this country, it leaders and citizens choose it often, more often than not.  We fight conflict after conflict.  We clash here and abroad.  We win battles; some say we win wars.  Yet, we never achieve peace.  The reasons for this are plentiful.  Among these is “Might does not make right.”

    The numbers may be on our side; however, success is much more than a tangible strength.  The United States often has more servicemen and women than its enemies.  Our artillery is ample.  The tools this nation produces are quite superior.  Still, our will at times is less strong than that of our adversaries.  On these occasions, victory is not ours.  In truth, I think when aggression is involved no one triumphs.  Everyone suffers a loss when we wage war, except perhaps the businesses that produce our weaponry and supplies.

    In case the citizenry ever forget that this nation was founded on war, our leaders remind us.  Their words are written into our policy.  Most recently, our glorious king, George II etched his wisdom into our doctrine.  Bush and his Bunch drafted the National Security Strategy for the United States of America in 2002.  Our Eternal Emperor, the man chosen to speak for God, and selected to serve by Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, President George W. Bush is quoted throughout the document.  He offers,

    “Our Nation’s cause has always been larger than our Nation’s defense.
    We fight, as we always fight, for a just peace?”a peace that favors liberty.
    We will defend the peace against the threats from terrorists and tyrants.”
    – President Bush.  West Point, New York.  June 1, 2002

    The President sounds so eloquent, so astute, and so contrary.  I wonder; how does one defend peace as they fight.  Is liberty achieved when we exert our will on others?  History proves it is not.

    People may pretend to circumvent their truer desires.  They may appear to be abiding by the laws set by those deemed superior.  However, they plot, plan, and pursue their personal philosophies, no matter what or who tries to control them.  Consider Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, and yes, even the early American colonists.

    Nevertheless, we pursue.  We Americans conclude we must protect, defend, and preserve our safe space.  If anyone or any group threatens us, we must act aggressively.  “To achieve these goals, the United States will: Prevent our enemies from threatening our allies, our friends, and us with weapons of mass destruction.”

    These weapons may be in the form of arsenal or they might be mere articulations.  No matter what their shape or appearance, any action taken against this State must be defended against.

    We the people of the United States know how to form a more perfect union, a compassionate community, even if we have to do it through war; we will do it.  It is as our President postures,

    “Some worry that it is somehow undiplomatic or impolite to speak the language of right and wrong.  I disagree.
    Different circumstances require different methods, but not different moralities.”
    – President Bush.  West Point, New York.  June 1, 2002

    Thus, the President declares,

    “War has been waged against us by stealth, deceit, and murder.  This nation is peaceful, but fierce when stirred to anger.  The conflict was begun on the timing and terms of others.  It will end in a way, and at an hour, of our choosing.”
    – President Bush.  Washington, D.C. (The National Cathedral).  September 14, 2001

    Yet, it does not.  It never has.  They start a conflict.  We commence the battle.  Each fights the war to end all wars, over, and over, and over again.

    When wills this end?  It will conclude when we realize that “War is Not an Option!”  Aggression is never a solution.  We can be assertive; yet, not aggressive.  Wow, what a concept.  It might be an important one to consider before we engage in another war, or the next fight.  Yes, we have rights; however, so too do they.

    Thus, I offer a discussion of aggression and assertiveness.  I hope this might broaden our perspective.  As you review the following information, I ask you to extrapolate.  Consider what we witness locally, in our daily lives.

    I believe that what we do in our homes, in the workplace, and on our streets becomes our habit and our truth.  If we are snide, rude, crude, hostile, violent, or just plain aggressive with members of our family, with friends, or familiars we are likely to be so elsewhere.  If we believe belligerent behavior is justifiable in defense of ourselves, might we also be more willing to accept it as a strategy for our nation?  Sadly, I suspect we are.

    Understanding Assertiveness, By Stuart Sorensen ?” RMN

    What it will do is provide some information about the nature of assertiveness and how it differs from other methods of dealing with people.

    Most people confuse assertiveness with aggression or “getting my own way.” True assertiveness, however, is much more than that.  Assertiveness considers the rights and needs of everybody.  It assumes that everyone is equal.  Because of this assertiveness can be thought of as a method of increasing choices for everyone.

    When we are unhappy with a situation, we have at least four choices.  We can:
    • Accept the situation
    • Be aggressive
    • Be passive
    • Be Assertive

    Most People Behave in Each of These Four Ways in Different Situations.
    If we are happy to accept a given situation, then all is well and good.  If not then we must choose one of the other three options.  Let’s look at these more closely.

    The aim of aggression is to get our own way ?” to win whatever the cost to other people.  Aggression is not interested in the rights, wants or needs of others.  Aggression is usually destructive, either physically or psychologically.  It’s true that people who behave aggressively often get what they want but aggression has other results as well.
    • Aggression often breeds aggression.  This means that once people start behaving aggressively with each other it can be very hard to stop.  People start looking for new ways to hurt each other and before you know it they’re lifelong enemies.
    • Aggression can make us unpopular.  Once we get a reputation for being aggressive, people start avoiding us.  This may be because they’re frightened we might turn on them or because they think we’ll embarrass them by behaving aggressively to other people.  They may also be worried that they’ll lose friends or influence as people might assume that they are just as aggressive.  In the end, the only friends aggressive people have are people who are just as aggressive they or people who are frightened of them.  They lose out on a lot of friendships because of their hostility.
    • Aggression discourages people from helping us in the future.  If we force people to do what we want by using aggression, they will probably feel bad about us.  This often means they refuse to help us when we really need them.
    • Some people believe that behaving aggressively makes others respect us.  It doesn’t, it simply makes them fear us.  Frightened people only do what we want for as long as we are watching.  As soon as our backs are turned, they tend to do their own thing.  This makes our aggression a waste of time.
    • Aggression can make us feel good for a short while but is it worth it?

    The aim of assertiveness is to find the best possible solution for all people.  It’s about finding ??win:win’ solutions.  [Here I need to assert my own belief.  I believe that if there is a win, there is also a loss!  I prefer the term “grow:grow.”]  Assertiveness sees everyone as equal with equal rights and equal responsibilities.

    • Assertiveness increases the chances of our needs being met.  If we are able to tell people what we want without becoming aggressive, they will be more likely to help us.  Also, if they can’t help us and we are able to accept that without becoming aggressive they will remain friends.
    • Assertiveness allows us to remain in control.  We can decide for ourselves what we want to do and then seek out opportunities to do it ?” or to do something similar.  It puts us back in the driving seat.
    • Assertiveness brings greater self-confidence.  As we learn to take control and see what we can achieve our confidence increases.  This in turn increases our feelings of self worth and self esteem.  We begin to feel better ?” more effective.
    • Assertiveness lets us have greater confidence in others.  This is because it also helps others to state their needs and wants.  By dealing honestly and fairly with them we encourage them to do the same with us.
    • Assertive people have more friends.  As we begin to treat people more fairly they begin to trust us, to like us and to want to spend more time with us.  We make friends who truly respect us instead of walking all over us (passivity) or fearing us (aggression).
    • Reduced stress.  The more in control we feel the less stressed we feel.  We don’t need to worry about doing things we’d rather not.  We don’t have to let other people control us.  Nor do we have to worry about trying to control other people.  We have the power to choose our own destiny.
    Remember that there are many ways to interact with others.  We can inform, explain, discuss, or simply have a relaxed conversation.  It’s often useful to know in advance precisely, how you intend to interact.

    The article continues.  I do not necessarily agree with the premises or phrasing in the latter portions of this presentation.  Therefore, I am choosing to assert myself.  I will offer one further aspect though I have chosen to alter one term.  The author speaks of “rights” and states the “right” we each have as individuals.  I might list those however, I experience that most people are very familiar with their rights.

    Rarely do they acknowledge what social scientists term as “responsibilities.”  I struggle with that word for I, as many cringe when another person declares that we must be responsible.  Often the speaker of this dictum is not.  Therefore, I will replace the word responsibility with a phrase, “I can consciously choose.”

    Dear reader, the choice is yours.  Please consider we will get what we give.  That we cannot control.

    • I can consciously choose to treat others fairly, honestly and with respect for their dignity.
    • I can consciously choose my own actions and their consequences.
    • I can consciously choose to uphold the rights of others whenever I can.
    • I can consciously choose my own decisions.
    • I can consciously choose to be aware and acknowledge my role in my own life.
    • I can consciously choose to accept, what happens to me is, generally, a result of my own decisions.
    When we question the value of war, if we are honest with ourselves we will realize there is none.  Aggression need not be our habit, preference, or option, first or last.  We can assert ourselves.  We can and must acknowledge that we have rights and privileges; yet, we must remember that others have the same.  Theirs are equal to our own, no less worthy and no more.

    Yes, speak up when you feel threatened; defend yourself assertively.  However, you need not do so aggressively.  Realize that if you choose conflict, you will get what you ask for.  The force with which your enemy engages will be equal and opposing.  I invite us as a nation and as individuals, to acknowledge peace is the greatest path.  When we truly pursue tranquility, we understand war is not an option, ever.  May peace be with you, everyone.

    • On American Independence Day, July 4, 2006, this nation celebrates war or freedom, depending on your chosen perspective.  North Korea fires its test missiles.  Their mission is to exert their independence or to initiate war.  We choose; they will act in kind.  They have already.  We show our strength and our ability to engage in war.  They offer the same.  Assertiveness or Aggressive attacks, which cycle will be chose this time?

    Please, sing it with me.  War, By Edwin Starr

    Peruse if You Choose.  No Worries.  No War . . .
    President Bush Outlines Iraqi Threat, Office of the Press Secretary. October 7, 2002
    Poll: Don’t Go It Alone On Iraq.  CBS News. September 7, 2002
    The Patriot Act
    National Security Strategy for the United States of America
    • Casualties in Iraq, The Human Cost of Occupation,
    Economists say cost of war could top $2 trillion, By Bryan Bender. Boston Globe. January 8, 2006
    Bush pledges to get bin Laden, dead or alive, USA Today. December 14, 2001
    ‘You are either with us or against us’, CNN News. November 6, 2001
      World War I and World War II By Jerrie S. Cheek. Educational Technology Center.
    President Addresses the Nation. Office of the Press Secretary. September 7, 2003
    The National Priorities Project
    The 9/11 Commission Report, Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States
    War remains the option of first resort – not last, By Simon Tisdall. The Guardian. Thursday February 27, 2003
    The Rise and Fall of Adolf Hitler, The History Place?
    Neville Chamberlain Wikipedia.
    Appeasement Spartacus.
    War as Self-Defense, About.
    Why America Goes to War, By Richard Corliss. Time. January 16, 2006. Vol.167, Iss. 3;  pg. 127
    Not Just A Last Resort?
    A Global Strike Plan, With a Nuclear Option,
    By William Arkin. The Washington Post.  Sunday, May 15, 2005
    National Security Strategy for the United States of America
    President’s Remarks at National Day of Prayer and Remembrance, The National Cathedral. Office of the Press Secretary. September 14, 2001
    President Bush Delivers Graduation Speech at West Point, George W. Bush. June 1, 2002
    North Korea Test-Fires Several Missiles, By Maureen Dowd. The New York Times. July 4, 2006
    War, By Edwin Starr

    World Refugee Day. What Does This Mean To U.S.?

    (I offer my sincerest apologizes. This month has been full of the unexpected, accidental, and unintentional. Much learning has occurred during this time of opportunity. The Old Soul [who for most is a computer] and I are only beginning to return to our preferred state, being one with each other.

    On this World Refugee Day, there is much to discuss. Perhaps, the State of many unions is indeed worse than it was a year ago. I was hoping to express my most recent concerns. However, the Sweetness has had access to tools for but a few moments.

    As I say this, I think how silly the contrast. I am sitting in my cozy home while refugees are struggling to survive. Many are no longer alive. Live is challenging when you are a person in exile.

    I present an article published a year ago in homage to those expatriates who live large in my heart.

    – promoted by Betsy L. Angert)

    copyright © 2006 Betsy L. Angert

    Yesterday morning I awoke to news that I wish I had known earlier.  “Today, June 20, 2006, is World Refugee Day.”  I found my own lack of awareness for the date troubling.  I pondered further; I wondered of our collective consciousness.

    Currently, there are fifteen to twenty million refugees.  There may be more.  There are millions of persons without a home, a community, a family, or any real belongings.  These individuals have experienced violence that few of us in the can imagine.  We sit in our safe havens, and occasionally, we watch the misery on television.  We read of their lives, and the plight these people suffer.  At times, some American citizens acknowledge that the refugees have lost their homes and their health.  Their existence has been threatened.  We know something; yet, we understand little.  Our lives in the U.S. are so separate from those that were banished from their homeland.  It is beyond sad.

    As I reflect on the homeless in distant lands, I remember, there are those here in the United States that are also without permanent shelter.

    During and immediately after Katrina and Rita, America’s poor and homeless were exposed to the elements; many still are.  The storms gave light to those less fortunate within our borders; however, only, temporarily.

    Some of these persons were seen by the masses; nevertheless, the focus was fleeting.  Not long after the hurricanes America’s impoverished, injured, and ill citizens were once again hidden.  These refugees joined the millions of American citizens who were without shelter before the squalls.  The numbers are staggering.  We may never have an accurate count for what we prefer to ignore.

    Whether the life of a dispossessed American is as brutal as that of a refugee in distant lands, I know not with certainty.  Personal perspectives will differ.  I only know that I admit my own ignorance and this disturbs me.  I am bothered by my own complacency.

    The breath and scope of this situation is tragic.  Words such as Darfur, Sudan, and Rwanda are bandied about.  We discuss the unspeakable rapes in the Congo.  Yet, I suspect we do not relate, really.

    We sound so very informed; I think, truly we know nothing.  Few can fully imagine what life is like in these areas of the world.

    Citizens in the States say New Orleans is this nation’s lesson.  However, there is no real evidence that we are learning.

    We in the United States think ourselves benevolent; we promise much.  However, we contribute little to assist those most in need.  We spend money at home and yes, even abroad.  Billions go to promoting war.  Peace and people, we pay lip service to that investment.  I trust that is not our intent.  I know personally, it is not mine.

    Just as Morris Dees, founder of Southern Poverty Law Center advocates, I think it is vital, we must “Teach Tolerance.”  Yet, today I realized, I, and most of us in this affluent nation, are “too” tolerant.  We accept genocide, ethnic cleansing, racism, rampant and malicious rapes, and conditions we cannot imagine.  We endure these here at home in a moderate or muffled form and allow worse elsewhere.  We avoid knowing what we know.

    I acknowledge that I am guilty of this.  For years, I have admitted such, and been embarrassed by my confession.  I believe in a global community.  I advocate this with my every breath; still, I attend to what is within my home country.  I feel so powerless.  I can barely effectuate change in the United States; how can I begin to broach an evolution elsewhere.

    In this moment, I offer my words and resources.  I invite  each of us to investigate further and to take action.  I hope this information will advance awareness and eventually prompt a progression.  May we move from ignorance or tolerance to action.  Ultimately, let us end all oppression.  May people be free, healthy, and happy throughout the world.  May expatriates be a thing of the past.

    Many may wonder who qualifies as a refugee.  Where are these persons from and where do they now live.  What issues do they face and how are we, as a planet, planning for their future.  I refer you to Humans Rights Watch.  This organization attempts to answer our questions.

    Refugees International is also making an effort to inform.  This organization answers the traditional questions of “where we are” and “what we do.”  They also offer options for action.

    Reuters reports of the situation in an article titled, “From Flight To Hope: The Compromised Existence of Refugees. U.S. and World communities Must Act Now.” In this essay, Janis D. Shields of American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) – USA discusses the problems facing “more than 20 million refugees, asylum-seekers, internally displaced persons, stateless persons and others throughout the world.”  She speaks of the deaths hey have witnessed, the family members they have lost, the destruction of communities, and identities lost.  Ms. Shields makes mention of the physical, mental and psychological violence these individuals have experienced and asks us all to help.

    Ashoka is another organization interested in saving the world from itself.  Their “mission is to shape a citizen sector that is entrepreneurial, productive and globally integrated.”  Their goal is “to develop the profession of social entrepreneurship around the world.”  This group may also inspire any of us to act.

    We hear of the conflict in Darfur; we might even read of the genocide.  As quoted from “Darfur: The Genocide We Can Stop” I offer this explanation. 

    The Sudanese Government, using Arab “Janjaweed” militias, its air force, and organized starvation, is systematically killing the black Sudanese of Darfur. Over two and a half million people, driven from their homes, now face death from starvation and disease as the Government and militias attempt to prevent humanitarian aid from reaching them.

    While this may say much, it might also leave some of us wondering.  We want to know and understand more.  We have questions.  The British Broadcasting Corporation offers some answers.  Please read, Q&A: Sudan’s Darfur conflict.

    Cable News Network Senior Africa Correspondent Jeff Koinange writes of refuges in a brilliant exposé.  In an article titled, “No end in sight for Africa’s suffering masses, Mr. Koinange offers a unique perspective.”  His writing is personal and provides insights beyond those typically found in a news report.  I offer a short portion of his missive so that you, dear reader, may taste the life of a refugee.

    Editor’s note: CNN’s Jeff Koinange has spent years covering events from Africa, including visiting war and disaster zones and following the lives of refugees forced from their homes. Here are his reflections on the U.N.’s World Refugee Day.

    ENTEBBE, Uganda (CNN) — Just imagine for a moment that everything you own — from your hard-earned money to your home to your car to little mementos like pictures on the wall — has just been taken from you by a group of people who don’t like the way you look or the shade of your skin or the shape of your nose. Everything gone except, perhaps, the clothes on your back.

    You’ve been forced to flee, probably separated from your family and end up on the run with a bunch of people you’ve never met, but with whom you now share a common goal — staying alive.

    Many hours or even days later, you arrive at a shelter run by an international nongovernmental organization.

    You’re tired, exhausted, sick to your stomach and scared to death. You end up sharing a tent with 40 to 60 other strangers where your bathroom, bedroom and kitchen combined have all been reduced to little more than the size of a normal bed.

    And this will be your home for the next few months, perhaps years, and in some cases, decades. This is what it’s like for a person fleeing persecution, war, civil strife, genocide.

    Imagine living like this for years if not decades, raising your family in a refugee camp because you can’t go home. Even if you do manage to go home, you learn someone else has taken over your land, your home, your life.

    I’ve seen that person many times, that face that says, “I too once had it all but one day lost it all.” Faces of refugees across the Africa I’ve been traversing for the past decade and a half, from Liberia and Sierra Leone in West Africa, from Congo to Tanzania in the center of the continent and from Somalia to Sudan in the East.

    Their stories are as heartbreaking as they are gut-wrenching, lives turned upside down in the blink of an eye.

    Another CNN reporter, Christiane Amanpour covers the refugee story as the CNN Chief International Correspondent.  Her viewpoint is also informative.  Ms. Amanpour shares her own story as a refugee.  She was an Iranian citizen and now lives in exile.  Ms Amanpour speaks of “The shocking truth about covering refugees.”

    Editor’s note: CNN’s Christiane Amanpour has reported on refugee crises from many of the world’s conflict zones including Sudan, Somalia, Rwanda, the Balkans and Iraq. Here are her reflections on the U.N.’s World Refugee Day.

    LONDON, England (CNN) — I suppose I am most attuned to the plight and particular circumstances of refugees, because I am one myself. When the Islamic Revolution swept Iran, my homeland, back in 1979, I left the country and came West. I ended up at a university and later at CNN in the United States.

    I think this experience has helped me in my work as I have spent the past 16 years on the road covering war, crisis, poverty and famine. Their inevitable byproduct is refugees.

    In 1991, shortly after the United States and its allies declared victory in the first Gulf War, I found myself covering the Iraqi Kurds — nearly 2 million of them, according to U.N. officials — who fled to neighboring Turkey and Iran and became refugees. They had followed a not-so-veiled suggestion by then-President George H.W. Bush to rise up against Saddam Hussein. A violent crackdown by Saddam killed many and forced the rest to flee. They came back only when the United States and its allies created a protected no-fly zone for them in northern Iraq.

    Just a few months later began the Balkan revolving-refugee crisis, ethnic cleansing and genocide that consumed the 1990s. I witnessed that war for all those years and watched in horror as millions of men, women and children walked, ran or drove away from their killers and tormentors, to end up homeless, friendless and rootless in strange countries far from home. I’ll never forget the sad, lost, tear-stained little faces pressed against the rain-streaked windows of the buses they were packed in. They wanted to believe they would be leaving for only a short time, but they ended up staying away for years. About 650,000 have never returned 10 years after the war ended, U.N. refugee officials say, but the good news is that more than 2.5 million have come back.

    There is much to be said.  This situation affects millions, though billions are avoiding it.  I only offer a glimpse into the world of refugees.  Further exploration must be yours, or mine. I can no longer put the refugees out of my mind.  They are not as the refuse I place at the curb for the trash man to take away. they are people, no different in make-up than you or I.  On World Refugee Day we honor the displaced, may we do this each and every day.  May we unite and begin being as we believe is best.

    Please Plunge into Awareness.  Peruse the references offered below.

  • CNN Dedicates Programming to World Refugee Day Coverage CNN News. June 19, 2006
  • Keeping the Flame of Hope Alive United Nations Refugee Agency
  • Millions mark World Refugee Day, Reuters AlertNet. Source: United Nations Refugee Agency. June 20, 2006
  • ReliefWeb
  • Katrina’s Refugees, By Carol Rust, Staci Semrad and Dirk Johnson. Newsweek August 31, 2005
  • New Orleans after Katrina: Back to Stone Age Associated Press. China Daily September 7, 2005
  • Homeless in America By Raven Tyler. NewsHour. December 11, 2002
  • Picturing the Homeless, on Their Terms By Jennifer Ludden. All Things Considered, National Public Radio.  October 24, 2004
  • Katrina & Recovery National Public Radio.
  • Morris Dees, Center founder and chief trial counsel. Southern Poverty Law Center
  • Teaching Tolerance, Pioneering Anti-Bias Education Southern Poverty Law Center
  • Southern Poverty Law Center
  • Senate Approves $66 Billion for War Efforts, By David Welna. National Public Radio. Morning Edition. June 15, 2006
  • Sudan: Promises and Plans AfricaFocus Bulletin. April 27, 2005
  • The Triumph of Evil Frontline. Public Broadcasting Services
  • World Refugee Day Ashoka.
  • United Nations Refugee Agency
  • Humans Rights Watch.
  • Refugees International
  • Welcome to Refugees International’s Action Center.
  • Q&A: Sudan’s Darfur conflict.
  • Activists in US Rally for Peace in Darfur as Analysts Discuss Roadblocks, By Catherine Maddux. Voice Of America. June 20, 2006
  • “Darfur: The Genocide We Can Stop”
  • Ashoka’s Mission
  • Rape, brutality ignored to aid Congo peace, By Jeff Koinange. CNN News. Friday, May 26, 2006
  • “From Flight To Hope: The Compromised Existence of Refugees. U.S. and World communities Must Act Now.” By Janis D. Shields. Reuters. June 20, 2006
  • No end in sight for Africa’s suffering masses, By Jeff Koinange. CNN News. Tuesday, June 20, 2006
  • Jeff Koinange Jeff Koinange, CNN’s Africa Correspondent
  • “The shocking truth about covering refugees.” By Christiane Amanpour. CNN News. Tuesday, June 20, 2006
  • Christiane Amanpour CNN’s Chief International Correspondent
  • Marines Kill Iraqis. Men Murder Indianapolis Family. Human Nature ©

    I woke up one morning last week to further reports of killing. I wrote of Haditha earlier that week.  In that treatise, I mentioned the April 26, 2006 slaughter in Hamandiya, Iraq.  I was aware of the allegations made against Marines for a March melee.  On this morning, as I glanced at the periodicals, I saw reports stating the Camp Pendleton soldiers accused of that crime were cleared.  Details were scant.  Nevertheless, their reactive behavior was deemed righteous.  Apparently, the actions these soldiers took were in accordance with military procedures.  Hooray for the “good guys.”  I only wish I was clear; who are the men, women, and children in the white hats?

    We recognize the bad guys, or at least the media, the Administration, and society-at-large says we do.  The dreadful, the ghastly, and the horrific are the criminals.  They are those that kill in cold blood.  Terrorists are these.  Saddam Hussein is also, or so we are told.  The innocent Marines that slaughter young children, elderly men, pregnant women, and unarmed persons in their homes are not wrongdoers.  At least some of them are not.  Desmond Turner is a truly terrible man.  His associate James Stewart may also be.

    Last week in Indianapolis, Turner, with possible accomplice, 30-year-old James Stewart entered a neighborhood home and murdered three generations of one family, seven innocent people.  The crime was described as heinous.  The reason for the reactive behavior of this man was said to be unknown.  Hum, might I reflect.  I do not see the difference between killings.  Whether soldiers are killing the innocents or civilians are doing the deed, defenseless people are dying.

    Granted the soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan have been placed in a situation where they feel their very existence is threatened.  Simple survival is a challenge.  Persons living in the States are presumed to be safe and sane.  However, life for them is not always, as it would seem.  Poverty poses some awful challenges.  Even those with money can be placed in precarious situations.  Crises are abounding, even in the heartlands.

    What for me is the issue is man’s inhumanity to man.  Today we live in a world where aggression is acceptable.  It is posed as animal instinct.  It is the nature of man and beast.  Fight or take flight.  Thus, we see, hear, and read of hostility everywhere.  George W. Bush, the President of the most powerful nation in the world boasts, “Bring it on!”  He declares, we want him/them, “Dead or alive.”  Granted, belatedly he apologized for his signature statement.  However, the request for forgiveness was bestowed years after the fact and though offered contritely, it seemed less than sincere.

    Mr. Bush our fair leader stated, were it not for the First Lady, King George II would not have uttered the apology; he had no idea there was a problem with his pronouncement.  Sadly, few of us do.  Bush does The as a bunch of us do; he acts without thinking.  Is that too, the nature of the beast?

    We blurt out whatever words we want, whether they yield as weapons or are expressions of kindness.  We deceive, destroy, and devastate others and ourselves, physically and mentally.  We kill!  We rarely think, until after the fact.  Humans are a bundle of emotions; however, they have the ability to rationalize, post-problematic aggressions.  Some presume; fauna do not have the capacity to reason or reflect.  Wo/man does.  It is often said, our ability to rationalize is makes us different; man is more highly evolved than other mammals.  Yet, I have not read of, seen, or heard of an animal engage in self-destructive behavior.

    Mr. Bush claims, “I speak plainly [sometimes.]”  Many Americans considered this a likable quality; they voted for this bumbler because he was as they are, “human”.  This can be good; however, often it is not.

    When the all-too human Bush returned from the White House after first voicing his terrorizing machismo remarks, his wife Laura greeted him inquiring, why would you say such things.  Baby Bush quipped, “Well, it was just an expression that came out.  I didn’t rehearse it.  It just was there when they asked me my opinion.”  That is our Emperor, the man we turn to for guidance, Good Ole Shoot-From-The-Hip GW.  Sadly, we as individuals follow his lead too often.

    Admittedly, at times, the Bush opinion, is scripted, practiced, and prepared.  It needs to be, for as the President said, he has learned.  “You gotta be mindful of the consequences of the words.”  With all the recently revealed Iraqi war woes, King George II is being more “mindful” of the words he uses.

    Our Commander-and-Chief, the President discussed what appears to be a series of atrocities among the Marines.  He addressed concerns for the men in uniform.  However, King George II assured us that Marines are “honorable” men and women.  They respect “the law.”  Commander Bush presented his defense for the troops.  The King rationalized what is knowingly wrong; Mr. Bush spoke in support of [legitimate] killing.

    The President continued to declare the war, the unilateral attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq, as justifiable.  He proclaims these were necessary.  For this President battle often is.  Bush believes that there is evil in the Middle East.  To ensure that it does not come to our country, we must annihilate all [suspected] terrorists abroad.

    In contrast, the new Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki thought the massacres unacceptable.  This leader did not address the initial war, which brought him to power.  He could not expect to argue what has provided him with a revered position.  He is human; power, war, and turbulence are fine, as long as they serve him.  Mr. Maliki charged American forces have regularly attacked Iraqi civilians.  He said the abuses would be taken into account when determining the necessary departure of American forces.  Maliki, as most of the world is resigned to warfare.  It is only when individuals might be involved that he becomes inflamed.

    Secretary of State Donald Rumsfeld has few complaints.  As log as he can retain his post and send innocents off to kill other harmless souls, he has no reason to complain.  When asked of Mr. Maliki’s assertions, he declined to respond.  Rumsfeld said he had not yet read them.  Would it have mattered if he had?  He also refused to discuss the specifics of the Haditha deaths, though supposedly he had read reports of these many months earlier.  Rumsfeld stated he did not want to interfere in the ongoing investigations.  Does anyone?  Will anyone ever answer the real questions?  Why is war ever an option?  When is killing ever acceptable?

    If we attack, seeking vengeance, are we honoring the commandments we pretend to support?  When we covet oil, power, or seek a worldwide democracy are we respecting our neighbors?  When we murder, rape, steal pride, and possessions, how can we claim to be honorable?

    The pious man that speaks for God might know.  Mr. Bush knows his commandments, as do his equally religious Cabinet rangers.  Yet, he and his Defense Department order the youth of America violate these.  They train the young to execute and they do.

    This military is not the only organization that sanctions the violent exercises, parents, guardians, and society-at-large endorse these.  We all accept cruelty in our homes.  Persons living in Western cultures turn on their television sets and ask that the games begin.  As ancient Romans in an amphitheatre, we cheer on the strong, the brutal, the snide, the rude, and the crude.  Blood races through our veins and it spills out onto carpets and fields.  Movie theatres are filled with the same fervor and red gooey substance flows on the screens.  Acts of viciousness invade video monitors.  So much of society is bathing in blood.  The Western world is a gory and gruesome one.

    Psychologists Craig A. Anderson, Ph.D., and Karen E. Dill, Ph.D. state that “One study reveals that young men who are habitually aggressive may be especially vulnerable to the aggression-enhancing effects of repeated exposure to violent games.”  The professionals continue to discuss research findings on sadism, “The other study reveals that even a brief exposure to violent video games can temporarily increase aggressive behavior in all types of participants.”

    “Violent video games provide a forum for learning and practicing aggressive solutions to conflict situations,” said Dr. Anderson.  “In the short run, playing a violent video game appears to affect aggression by priming aggressive thoughts.  Longer-term effects are likely to be longer lasting as well, as the player learns and practices new aggression-related scripts that can become more and more accessible for use when real-life conflict situations arise.”

    People accept this.  Most know of similar studies.  However, people say fighting is characteristic of humans; it is natural. Some people are overjoyed as they witness aggression.  The adrenalin is high as we engage in it.  Insensitive to the slayings and subjugation, we laugh as we watch these.  Then, on occasion we speak in horror of the same.  Silly humans, “tricks are for kids.” apparently, even the eldest among us are children.  Few of us have aged enough to stop the play, the war games, the bullying, teasing, and the slaughter that accompanies these.

    Instead, we do as humans do.  We rationalize, justify, criticize, and blame others for our actions.  Humankind, with their neo-cortex denies the strength of the amygdala, the emotional sentinel, and intellectualizes why s/he is right and all others are wrong.

    We are witnessing this among the military and even many of the “newsmakers vetted with the troops.  These individuals claim the playing fields are no longer fair.  Guerillas are everywhere.

    We call those that fight for religious reasons, financial freedoms, or sovereignty guerrillas, for they do not follow the rules of engagement.  The insurgents dress in civilian clothing.  It is impossible to discern who is friend and who is foe.

    Each time I hear this explanation, posed as a complaint, I think about the history of America.  I recall reading that the revolutionaries were successful in battle because, unlike the British in their starched and vibrant uniforms, the colonists wore casual wear.  A Tory soldier was unable to identify a warrior from an innocent colonist.

    Our founding fathers, those forever-faithful men of reason, were once the group intent on overthrowing the government.  Yet, those guerrillas are now celebrated.  They were the first Americans and what made this country great.  Who are we?

    I am told, today, in all our martial garb and glory, we identify ourselves as humanitarians.  Our servicemen and women are honorable.  The President of the United States has told us so.

    Mr. Bush said the Marine Corps are taught core values as part of their training.  General Michael Hagee, the Marine Corps commandant assured us this is so.  He said, “We do not employ force just for the sake of employing force.  We use lethal force only when justified, proportional and, most importantly, lawful.”

    Apparently, the law provides a wide berth.  Principles, morals, and ethics must state slaughter is acceptable within certain parameters.  These limitations are too obscure for me.  Still, I am not the authority on war and never will be.  I think combat is never an option, though for the majority of the world, it is.  Clearly, Americans think it was or at least they thought so years ago.

    Americans see themselves as those that promote the Democracy we love, even if it means provoking others.  The United Sates is the worlds “greatest” superpower.  We have weapons in abundance.  We have wealth.  Wisdom is all that we as a nation lack.  America entered a region uninvited.  The Administration of this country decided to attack another country unilaterally, with little reason or support.  They lied.  They never built a broad coalition; they trusted their personal desires and ignored the truth.

    The Bush Bandits committed themselves to a protracted war without a plan.  Actually, they dedicated the lives of devoted soldiers to a winless wager.  Neoconservatives gambled and they lost.  Three thousand soldiers perished.  Tens of thousands of civilian took their last breath and still the battles rage on.

    Soldiers are stressed; of this, I have no doubt.  Thus, they think, ??just kill them all.’  Corporal James Crossan said, “Several members of the unit were young and inexperienced and may have snapped after seeing one of their colleagues killed by the bomb.”  Platoons have learned to loathe any one that does not look like them.  “I think they were blinded by hate … and they just lost control,” Corporal Crossan said.  It comes with combat.  Much does.

    Murders, massacres, butchery, and carnage, these are all a part of war.  I do not understand it.  I cannot comprehend the need for aggression of any sort.

    I can only accept the soldiers involved in the March massacre were absolved of guilt.  The investigation into the massacre at Haditha continues.  The April 26 at Hamandiya incident is being debated.  Yet, few admit what we as a people have created.  Society will punish Desmond Turner and James Stewart willingly.  A court martial may find a Marine or two guilty.  Civilian courts may judge these soldiers, as the military system will.  I know not.  I am left to wonder how on a planet where war is pervasive and violence is promoted, how do we justify the difference?  How do brutalities committed by individuals out of uniform differ from those committed by persons wearing official attire?  Moreover, why is there a need for either?

    A personal note if you will . . . As I read of and observe those in other animal kingdoms, I am struck by their compassion.  Mammals kill only when their survival is threatened.  On occasion, they maim accidentally, often during what they think is play.  I have yet to discover a self-destructive streak in any mammal, but man.  I am forever fascinated by what we attribute to nature and natural instincts.  Animals do not kill for the sake of killing; nor do they slaughter in mass.  Why is it that the rational brain justifies the unjustifiable?  Someone please tell me!

    References for War, Warriors, Wounded, Weapons, and Why?

    Lawmaker: Marines killed Iraqis ??in cold blood,’ By Jim Miklaszewskiand Mike Viqueira. NBC News. May 17, 2006
    Murder Charges Likely for Marines in Iraq Death, By Tony Perry, Los Angeles Times June 2, 2006
    Marines Kill Innocent Iraqi Family. Verdict “Not Guilty”? © Betsy L. Angert, Be-Think May 28, 2006
    Military clears troops in Ishaqi raid probe Associated Press, MSNBC June 3, 2006
    7 Family Members Slain in Indianapolis, By Charles Wilson. Associated Press. June 02, 2006
    What happened in Haditha? By Richard Engel. Middle East Bureau Chief, NBC News. May 30, 2006
    NBC: Marines accused of cover-up in killing May 25, 2006
    Killing of Civilians in Iraq Highlights Stress on Troops; Repeated Guerilla Attacks May Play Role Specialists Say, By Bryan Bender. Boston Globe.  June 4, 2006
    President Discusses War on Terror National Defense University. March 8, 2005
    George W. Bush and the G-Word, By Al Kamen. The Washington Post.October 14, 2005
    Social Learning Theory of Aggression By Albert Bandura. The Journal of Communication
    Transmission of Aggression Through Imitation of Aggressive Models By Albert Bandura, Dorothea Ross, and Sheila A. Ross. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology
    The Social Learning Theory, By Margaret Delores Isom. November 30, 1998
    Aggression: A Social Learning Analysis By Albert Bandura
    The Emotional Brain By Laura Arendal. May 2000
    Intuition: Thinking through Your Gut, By Laura Arendal. May 2000
    The Study of Aggression, By Dr Paul Kenyon, University of Plymouth
    Violent Video Games Can Increase Aggression, By Craig A. Anderson, Ph.D. and Karen E. Dill, Ph.D. American Psychological Association
    Iraq Coalition Casualty Count
    Did Marines Kill “in Cold Blood”?, By Sally B. Donnelly.  Time Magazine. May 29, 2006
    • PDF Did Marines Kill “in Cold Blood”?, By Sally B. Donnelly.  Time Magazine. May 29, 2006
    “I Saw Marines Kill Civilians”, By Michel Guerrin. For Le Monde. Translated for CounterPunch by Norman Madarasz
    Accused marines were ‘blinded by hate’ Timesonline. June 01, 2006
    Accused Marines Blinded By hate, Australian  News, June 02, 2006
    General to Marines: kill only when justified, By Will Dunham. Reuters May 25, 2006
    US forces shoot at speeding car and kill Iraqi woman in labour Dispatch
    Did Marines Massacre Iraqi Civilians? By Jonathan Karl. ABC News May 26, 2006
    Troops Respect Iraqis’ Rights, Rumsfeld Says, By Michael R. Gordon. New York Times. June 2, 2006
    Probe Finds Marines Killed Unarmed Iraqi Civilians, By Tony Perry, Los Angeles Times. May 26, 2006
    Iraqis not focused on massacre claims, By Ian Pannell. BBC News, Baghdad. June 2, 2006
    Funeral for 6 Slain Ind. Family Members, By Ken Kusmer. The Associated Press. Washington Post. Wednesday, June 7, 2006
    Are Violent Acts Human Nature? By Leslie Yeransian. ABC News June 2, 2006
    The Logic of War Crimes in a Criminal War By Mara Verheyden-Hilliard and Brian Becker. A.N.S.W.E.R Coalition. June 3, 2006
    The Rise and Fall of Sociobiology, By Peter Augustine Lawler. The New Atlantis, Number 1, Spring 2003
    Bush: Regrets? Confessions? Bring ‘Em On!, By Leslie Savan, Boston Globe and AlterNet June 5, 2006
    Bring on the 2nd thoughts: Bush admits some ‘regret’ By Andrew Miga. Boston Herald. Friday, January 14, 2005
    • Family Slain In Indianapolis Bloodbath CBS News June 2, 2006
    Indianapolis Slay Suspect Surrenders CBS News June 3, 2006