The diversion of diversity

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Hi there. There’s been quite a bit going on lately, I’ve been taking notes, there is a lot to write about, but I will start with this week.

The Supreme Court of the United States revised the meaning of the word “Judicial” to include “Legislative.” In a five to four ruling, the court removed the right of the states to determine who may be married. There is nothing in the Constitution addressing marriage, nonetheless the narrowest of majorities decided the fourteenth amendment’s equal protection clause applied to sexual orientation.

What this means is even if your state decided through the democratic process to not allow same sex marriage, your state must not only recognize marriages performed in another state, it must allow such marriages to be performed within the state. While I have no issue with same sex marriage, I am strongly opposed to the way it has been forced on the states.

I was last married in a Quaker ceremony. Only two states, Ohio and Pennsylvania, allow Quaker weddings, but they are recognized throughout the world. Would it be appropriate for the Supreme Court to force every state to allow Quaker ceremonies? The Quaker church does not have the political clout (nor would it accept such) of the LBGT community, and is not interested in forcing its practices on others. Following the tactics of the LGBT community of late, will Catholic priests be forced to perform same sex marriages, in the manner bakers and photographers have been forced to participate in an event which runs against their personal moral code?

Human rights means respecting each other as individuals. It goes against human nature, xenophobia is an evolutionary advantage. The mature Homo Sapiens should be capable of supporting rights different from its own, xenophobia is the primal fear acceptance equals assimilation. It appears such a primal fear is warranted lately, lack of support for a cause is labeled fear of that cause. Socially, we are regressing. Forcing people to participate in something they are morally opposed to creates much more resentment than asking them to simply accept its existence. Texas is suggesting they will allow a balance of individual rights and Supreme Court activism, this is the petri dish to keep an eye on.

The other big story this week is a tangled mess of propaganda, misinformation, and intolerance. A young man opened fire in a church in South Carolina, killing nine people. Cue the politicians. Interestingly enough, gun control wasn’t immediately mentioned, there was a much more appealing subject. Photographs surfaced of the shooter holding a confederate flag, and the church was described as a “Black Church” (Actually it is an African Methodist Episcopal Church or A.M.E.). During all the conversations about racism no one mentioned churches have no color.

The racism angle was used to reinforce the concept the Confederate flag is a symbol of racism. It is not. No more than the rainbow is a symbol homosexuality (remember the Rainbow Coalition?). Coexistence is no longer the desire, we must all be the same. The Confederate flag has never had more meaning, representing rebellion by the states over a tyrannical federal government. So of course, the Federal government supports banishing the flag, applying Orwellian tactics to deny rebellion. Democracy is again denied, as activists remove the flag wherever they can, justified by the belief they just cannot wait for the flag to be banned. The next flag in line? Ask Louis Farrakhan, who wants the American flag to come down. Taking down the flag isn’t sufficient for the Black Panther Party, which has made several appeals to “Kill all White people.” Racial harmony anyone?

The trend is alarming. I suspect I am like most Americans, I can get along with anyone who wants to get along. I cannot, however, get along with people who want to tell me how to feel or think. In the same sense I don’t see all Muslims as members of Al Qaeda, I don’t see all black people as members of the Black Panther party. I don’t think all people with alternative lifestyles are pushing an agenda on me. I don’t think all Southerners are racists, and know that many Northerners are. As a White man, I am more likely to have a Black neighbor in the South than in the North.

One year from now, we will be listening to the dozen or so people who would like to be our next president. Listen closely. Are they speaking about equality and fairness, or legislating their beliefs upon everyone? Are they appealing to fear or hope? Please do not waste your vote confirming the winner, vote your conscience. Demonstrate your personal beliefs. Be an American, while we still have an America.

 

 

 

I have a dream too

Something funky with WordPress today, no paragraph breaks.

dream

noun, often attributive \ˈdrēm\

Definition of DREAM

1: a series of thoughts, images, or emotions occurring during sleep — compare rem sleep
2: an experience of waking life having the characteristics of a dream: as

 a : a visionary creation of the imagination : daydream
 b : a state of mind marked by abstraction or release from reality : reverie
 c : an object seen in a dreamlike state : vision
3: something notable for its beauty, excellence, or enjoyable quality <the new car is a dream to operate>

4 a : a strongly desired goal or purpose <a dream of becoming president> b : something that fully satisfies a wish : ideal <a meal that was a gourmet’s dream>

I’ve highlighted the pertinent definitions above. Dream describes an idealistic state, most often seen during sleep, in which reality is suspended. Nowhere in the definition does it mention that a dream is something that is promised, or even likely.
A dream works without the constraints of reality, allowing the imagination to work with “what if” (1). It is accessible during waking periods, during which we can use our imaginations to find ways to make reality conform with this dream (2 a&b). It is something beautiful, as opposed to nightmares, that we are motivated to make true (3). That beauty makes it desirable, as a goal or purpose, so that if accomplished will satisfy our desires (4a&b).
My dreams have been fleeting, in that once accomplished, they were difficult and sometimes impossible to sustain. It works better in a group, with a shared dream, until the various members of the group interpret the utilization of the dream in ways that cause it to fail.
Sometimes accomplishing a dream and having it fail can be an inspiration to others, who dream to not make the same mistakes, Sometimes it’s disheartening, but what is not attempted is not achieved.
Martin Luther King Jr. spoke of his dream. A land fulfilling it’s promise of equal opportunity. An audience of three hundred thousand people listened to him that day, respectably gathered and listening to every word. Dr. King wanted the American Dream to be accessible to every citizen of the United States. That everyone would be judged by the content of their character rather than by the color of their skin.
Unfortunately, at about the same time in Oakland, CA, Huey Newton and Bobby Seale had their own dream. Their dream was of the Black Panther Party, a militant group that would take what was not given to them. There’s a reasonable argument that they only took what they deserved, but as we’ve seen repeatedly around the world, when you take something by force, it is not given willingly.
Nonetheless, progress was made. Some well meaning programs didn’t work out so well, and in an attempt to restore equality, some people were found to be less equal than others. Resentment kept racism alive.
Today, you can walk into any office and see Black CEOs where once the only Black employees were janitors. You can also see blocks and blocks of black ghettos, where families tied to welfare have given up. There are also white ghettos, but they don’t make it onto the six o’clock news.
Dr. King dreamed of equal opportunity. That has been achieved. But opportunity is not a measure of outcome, and low income children of all races fail to see the value of working for their dreams. My town is color blind, the only color that they see is green. Wealthy people of all races live side by side, their children play together and will go to the same colleges. In Philadelphia, children of all races fail in school, use drugs, and get into gangs. They do not have jobs waiting for them. They think they have been denied the dream, but they have been denied the ability to understand the dream. They think the dream is to have all that stuff rich folks have. The opportunity denied them is not institutional, but familial. Very few children rise from poverty, and after generations of poverty the dream is lost. They have dreams, but no skills to accomplish them.
My dream is of a world in which family is the most cherished of possessions. Parents who work hard so that their children will be better off than they were. Parents who see the value in a one income family, where one parent cares for the home and the other cares for the bank book, and neither cares about having the newest car, or biggest house, or biggest television sets. Where children are taught the value of education rather than the value of having the newest Iphone. A world in which “want” and “need” are not synonyms.
There are poor parents in the wealthiest neighborhoods. Mom’s out all day at the tennis club, Dad’s gone all weekend playing golf, kids shuffled between activities, and no one sits down together for a meal and discusses their lives. If you don’t teach children the value of family, how are they going to build families of their own?
There will always be people without money. But there doesn’t have to be poor people. “Poor” is a state of mind, “broke” is a state of economics. As long as there is love, no one needs to be poor.
So that’s my dream, a world in which everyone loves each other. Won’t be happening in my lifetime, but I can plant the seeds.

He brought snacks to a gunfight

It was difficult, but I avoided commenting on anything American for the last two weeks. Now I’m back.

In Brussels, Blaine Reininger covered the dubstep song “Knives to a gunfight“, dedicating it to Trayvon Martin. He started by saying “Out of respect to Trayvon, we’re going to call this ‘you brought snacks to a gunfight”. I knew I’d have to write about it.

The President of the United States of America stated “Trayvon could have been me”. Wouldn’t Trayvon have been fortunate. At seventeen, Barry was at the Punahou school, a 17-acre oasis of calm, order and privilege tucked behind a low stone wall topped with cacti in Honolulu Hawaii. In his own words, he used marijuana and cocaine to push the questions of who he was out of his mind. Sounds as if thirty five years ago, Barack Hussein Obama II was more like George Zimmerman (let me spell that out. A liar). Trayvon neither used cocaine nor was he awaiting a scholarship to Occidental College.

I’ve seen some pretty bizarre responses to the Zimmerman verdict, the New Black Panther party offered a $10,000 reward for the capture of George Zimmerman, dead or alive. Publicly. Repeatedly. I’m not sure exactly why they feel like they’re “third class citizens”, I doubt very much the Klan ever made public statements that outrageous. Now of course that offer was made more than a year ago, and I don’t recall the Panthers paying the bounty to the state of Florida when they arrested him, but bringing the story to light sure is a great way to fire up racial tensions.

The Iranian Foreign Ministry felt their opinions about justice would be of interest. Something about pots and kettles goes here. In a related (too bizarre to comment) story, Zimmerman’s brother is worried about vigilantes.

Another great story was a collection of twits saying they would go out and shoot a Mexican and call it self defense in response to the “Not Guilty” verdict. Well, at least they’re getting closer. Zimmerman’s mother is from Peru. He actually doesn’t like Mexicans either, so maybe shooting a Mexican would put you on his good side.

As a matter of fact, George Zimmerman is an idiot. It doesn’t matter what his race is, and it really doesn’t matter what Trayvon Martin’s race was, Zimmerman was told to stay in his car by a police dispatcher, and instead confronted a man on the street. None of us will ever know what happened between then and when George Zimmerman fatally shot Trayvon Martin, but for some reason twelve people on a jury thought that “stand your ground” doesn’t mean that it’s actually your ground that you’re standing on.

Another twelve people in Florida thought that Casey Anthony wasn’t responsible for the death of her daughter.

Things were starting to look pretty good for violent offenders in Florida, then a woman went out to her car, got her gun, and came back to fire a “warning shot” at her ex husband, and received twenty years in prison. Apparently she hadn’t realized that in order to get away with a crime, you should not leave witnesses. Particularly witnesses who you’ve shot at.

If these stories were all you knew about Florida, or America, you might think we’re a bunch of idiots. Well, we have done everything we can to encourage idiotic behavior but there are a couple of things to remember.

First, there are about three hundred fourteen million people in America (over nineteen million in Florida alone). Allowing for a lunatic fringe of three percent (although I believe it’s closer to twelve), that would be over ten million lunatics in the United states. They can’t all live in Manhattan.

Second, while some people still believe the news media reports important stories about society, the job of the news media is to sell the advertising space that allows it to exist. News is not a public service, it’s a business. Dog bites man doesn’t make the front page. Man bites dog might make page three. A story has to be unique, not representative, to make the lineup.

Third, a headline is not a story. A headline is supposed to get your attention. This is why the most intriguing story is mentioned over and over, and then broadcast last, so you’ll watch the entire show. Which isn’t a terribly bad thing, many people sit through an entire newscast and might pick up some actual information while waiting to see the squirrel on water skis. The headline is the carnival barker, making the bearded woman sounds interesting enough that you’ll pay to see her.

Rioting in response to an unpopular verdict is not the answer. Using a tragedy for self promotion is a number of things, ranging from pathetic to disgusting.

We cannot fix every broken mind out there, but of those that we can fix, we can only do so with love.