A Letter to My Soon to Arrive Grandchild

Dear FNU (First Name Undecided, I’ll fill it in later)

How are you? I assume at some point in utero—your current address—you’ll gain the ability to hear voices. No doubt you’ll start eavesdropping on our conversations.

I hope nothing you hear gives you pause. You’ll learn that people often say things that are best ignored; even fewer things worth remembering. It is one of the realities you’ll come to understand in the future. At the moment, your future is all in front of you. You have no idea how lucky you are for that.

When you do arrive, I’ll read this letter to you in one of those familiar voices and start you on that path of learning.

We have much to talk about, places to go, things to eat. It would be helpful if you could learn the skills of walking and talking as soon as possible. No pressure here, just the anxious anticipation of an exuberant grandfather-in-waiting.

Soon enough, in the blink of an eye to those of us waiting for your arrival, you’ll be learning to drive and seeking your independence. They’ll probably assign me the task of teaching you to drive; I’ll be the one closest to my expiration date and the best choice for an acceptable loss.

No worries, I love scaring people on the road.

Don’t worry about words you don’t yet understand. In the beginning, they’ll all be unfamiliar. One of the things I most look forward to is reading to you and showing you the magical power of words.

All you need to know are twenty-six letters and some punctuation, and the rest will follow. But there’s no rush, I’ll help you along the way.

“Can’t you give me brains?” asked the Scarecrow.

“You don’t need them. You are learning something every day. A baby has brains, but it doesn’t know much. Experience is the only thing that brings knowledge, and the longer you are on earth the more experience you are sure to get.” 

L. Frank Baum, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

I know in the world you will soon be born to, the idea of watching a movie like the Wizard of Oz at a certain time of the year will seem odd. But indulge me if you would. I’d love to plan a day, once a year, where you and I and whoever else wants to join us watch the movie. It would mean so much to me and I would love it if we could do that.

You can learn all you need to know about life from that movie. How it is important to learn and think. How it is important to have the courage to face your fears. How there is truly no place like home. And, most of all, how we are “not judged by how much we love, but by how much we are loved by others.” You are off to a great start in that category.

We also have to watch the Three Stooges. I want you to a have a solid foundation in fine culture. Maybe some Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote, for added good measure.

There are a few other things I’d love you to understand right away. Learn to laugh at yourself and with others. If you can learn not to take yourself too seriously, and find the humor in things, you’ll live a happy life.

Always tell the truth, even when it seems hard. Sometimes this can be a little difficult. Something like this probably won’t happen for a while, but if someone asks you how they look, and they look like an overstuffed pillow wearing a wrinkled shower curtain, don’t say that.

Just smile and nod. Honesty is the best policy, but discretion is a powerful ally.

There is so much I want to tell you. So much I want you to see. So many things to experience that I hope we have enough time. That’s one of the tough things you have to learn. We don’t live forever, so we have to live while we have time. See, I promise to always tell you the truth about the world, even if it is unpleasant.

Things won’t always go your way. You won’t always win. You won’t always be the best at everything you do, and the truth is you might be the worst. That doesn’t matter. Trying to do your best, even if it turns into a disaster, does matter.

Learn from your mistakes, but don’t be afraid to make them. If you’ve adopted a policy of honesty, and always accept responsibility for your actions, no matter what happens you’ll get through it.  Someday, when you’re old enough to understand, I tell you some dumb things I did learning this lesson the hard way.

Just trust me on this one, you’ll come to thank me for it once you’ve experienced life for a while.

I know this may be premature, but I wonder if you’d like to learn to play guitar? I did when I was young, and it has given me years of pleasure. If guitar is not your preference, perhaps piano, or cello. I always wanted to play the cello, the music it makes can bring tears to your eyes.

That’s another thing I’ll have to teach you. There are different kinds of tears. There are the tears when something makes you sad, or, in your case since it may be a while before you talk, tears to get our attention when you’re hungry or uncomfortable because you deposited some alien colored substance in your diaper.

And there are tears of joy and love, like the ones in my eyes as I write this.

I’ll explain it all.

And don’t worry if it’s not a cello, or guitar, or piano you want to learn. I will be happy to have a drum set delivered to your house for you to entertain your mother and father. Trust me, they will love it.

 It would give me such pleasure to do this for you, and them.

Speaking of diapers, that’s something else I am looking forward to. I can’t wait to see the look on your father’s face the first time he has to change your Salvador Dali-looking diaper deposit. I’ll take pictures. Don’t worry about who this Dali guy is and why he paints in diapers. You’ll hear more about Salvador Dali, he’s one of your mother’s favorites.

There are a few rules I need you to learn. The first, and most important, rule is treat everyone the way you would want them to treat you. But, if they choose to act in a cruel or impolite way toward you or others, ignore them if you can but be willing to stand up to them if you must.

You will meet some people who are mean and angry and act like bullies. If you or someone else you are with are confronted by such behavior, stand up for the right thing even if you’re afraid.  You might lose a fight, it may hurt for a while, but running away because you’re afraid will hurt for a much longer time.

Open doors for people. Common courtesy is one of the most important characteristics of a good person. Be polite, say please and thank you, and be willing share.

Be a dreamer. Use your imagination. “Hold fast to your dreams, for as you dream so shall you become.” Someone once told me those words and it has served me well. 

Look for things in clouds. Walk barefoot in the grass, or on a beach. Hike mountains, walk trails, go out among nature and appreciate your place in it.

Learn all you can about the latest in technology but never let it replace the wonders of the unconnected world. While sending an instant message to the other side of the earth is cool, standing in the woods watching a bear cub learning from its mother is better.

Learn to cook, to appreciate the efforts behind a good meal. Help with the dishes. Be mindful of your bounty and share with those less fortunate.

Learn about the planets, the stars, the constellations, the galaxies. In my lifetime, humans went from the surface of the earth to the surface of the moon. In your lifetime, people will likely stand on Mars. Go if that’s where your heart leads you, or stay here and watch others go, but embrace these moments of history.

Never be afraid to follow your dreams or let anyone dissuade you from them.

I know I’ve said a lot of things in this letter. You may be a bit overwhelmed with all the getting used to breathing on your own, all the new sounds and sights, and all the people trying to hold you and speaking gibberish (another cool word I’ll explain,) so let’s do this instead. You just let me know when you’re ready to learn things, I’ll be waiting to get started.

Until then, when you’re ready, you just come on into the world and remind us all of the wonder of seeing things for the first time.

All the things I want to show you will have their moment. We won’t know until I am just a memory how much we got to do, but hold on to these words and, when I am no longer here, you can remember them with a smile. I will always be a part of you even when I’ve gone on to the next journey.

I am glad you are soon to be part of our lives, and I hope I can make your world just a little bit brighter.

With love,

Your soon to be grandfather, Joe Broadmeadow (that’s my grownup name, but I’ll let you decide what you’d like to call me.)

P.S. While I wait for your arrival, I’ll start picking out drum sets…

The Dangers of Certainty

One of the most problematic aspects of discourse in politics today is the certainty people cling to in their positions and their insistence that any evidence to the contrary be absolute.

“The greater part of mankind are naturally apt to be affirmative and dogmatical in their opinions; and while they…have no idea of any counterpoising argument, they throw themselves precipitately into the principles, to which they are inclined; not have they any indulgence for those who entertain opposite sentiments. To hesitate or balance perplexes their understanding, checks their passion, and suspends their action. They are, therefore, impatient to escape from a state, which to them is so uneasy; and they think, that they can never remove themselves far enough from it, by the violence of their affirmations and obstinacy of their belief. But could such dogmatical reasoners become sensible of the strange infirmities of human understanding, even in its most perfect state…such a reflection would naturally inspire them with more modesty and reserve, and diminish their fond opinion of themselves, and their prejudice against antagonists.”

David Hume
TOP 21 CERTAINTY IN LIFE QUOTES | A-Z Quotes

This is never more clear than in the discussion over climate change. When those who would deny Dangerous Anthropogenic Interference (DAI) and the acceleration of climate change are presented with the fact that 97% of peer-reviewed studies show clear evidence of human-caused damage to the environment in excess of natural phenomenon, they point to the 3% of studies which refute such causes and claim uncertainty.

The problem lies in the misunderstanding of scientific certainty. In his book, Galileo’s Error: Foundations for a New Science of Consciousness, Phillip Goff writes,

“Conspiracy theories thrive in an environment in which certainty is expected, because this expectation sets up a demand that can never be met. When one realizes that little if anything is known with certainty, even whether one’s feet exist, one becomes more comfortable with probabilities that fall short of 100 percent. If you start from the idea that there is a core of scientific knowledge that is known with 100 percent certainty, then something accepted by,”only” 97 percent of scientists can seem too uncertain to warrant real commitment. But the skeptical philosopher knows that if she were to wait for certainty, she would never form a meaningful relationship for fear of befriending a philosophical zombie. To properly understand the human situation is to appreciate that less than certainty can be enough to trust, to engage. Indeed, a threshold of much less than certainty is very often enough to demand belief and practical engagement.”

Goff, Philip. Galileo’s Error (p. 152). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

The one certainty in the world is there is no certainty. Some theories and concepts are the most likely given the known set of facts. When assessing the risk of either inaction or measures contrary to these assertions, they are never the wisest course to take.

Galileo’s famous experiment on the speed with which objects of different weight fall at the same rate absent other forces (or in a vacuum to be technical) is a case where experiment showed “common sense” to be wrong.

Thus it is with many of the differences in politics and civil (or in some cases, uncivil) discourse today. What may seem likely, or common sense, often flies in the face of the evidence no matter that there is some uncertainty.

I am confident the earth will continue to rotate on its axis and orbit the sun for the remainder of my life, but I cannot be certain it will. The evidence of planetary mechanics demonstrates that orbits decay over time. Someday the Earth will no longer orbit the sun. When, I am not certain but think it likely it will happen someday.

I don’t doubt the evidence and analysis of astrophysicists, even if I may not fully understand it, because it contains an element of uncertainty. Like Occam’s razor, the simplest explanation, absent a preponderance of evidence to the contrary, is often the best choice.

But it is not certain.

Conspiracy theories thrive in an environment in which certainty is expected, because this expectation sets up a demand that can never be met.

Goff, Philip. Galileo’s Error

The fact that many Americans embrace conspiracy theories like QAnon, Black Helicopters, New World Order, the Illuminati, Free Masonry is a symptom of the infection of certainty.

They are certain these things are true because they are not 100% disproven. Bertrand Russell once argued the burden of proof should fall on the one making the assertion. This is because one cannot prove some things wrong. He wrote that if he were to assert that a teapot, too small to be seen by telescopes, orbits the Sun somewhere in space between the Earth and Mars, he could not expect anyone to believe him solely because the assertion could not be proven wrong.

That something is not 100% provable does not render it useless to consider. Nor does the opposite apply; something that cannot be disproven does not make it factual.

People make choices every day that are uncertain. They choose to drive on highways where fatal accidents can happen. They swim in the ocean, where they are no longer the top tier in the food chain. They engage in activities with risk because they evaluate the risk and take action to mitigate it.

When presented with evidence of Dangerous Anthropic Interference approaching 97%, is the wisest course of action to ignore this because of a 3% chance it is wrong?

The only thing an expectation of certainty will do is cause us to do nothing, which will almost certainly cause us irreparable harm.

Are you so certain that you are willing to risk humanity’s future on such an unrealistic expectation?

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Leaves That Are Green

This time of the year, when even on a warm sunny day the first hint of winter chill swirls in the air, the leaves draw our attention with their kaleidoscope of colors.

I find it amusing how we notice leaves at just two moments in their life cycle; when they first emerge as a harbinger of Spring and when they twirl in the windy eddies of the Fall. Their yellows and reds and multi-colored spectrum are a message from nature, if we’ve a mind to listen.

We are all like leaves, with our own shapes, sizes, and colors. An oak tree in New England may differ slightly from an oak tree in southern California, but it is still an oak and still a tree. Often we focus on the differences rather than that which makes us all human.

Colors of Life

One might use leaves as a simile for what it is to be human. Through the unveiling of hidden colors in Fall, nature reveals the infinite variety of hues of humanity that are contained in all of us.

And so it is with people. We see the only differences and forget the commonality of humanity. This symmetry of leaves, and the symmetry within all humans, is not the fearful one of Blake’s The Tyger.

Tyger Tyger, burning bright, 
In the forests of the night; 
What immortal hand or eye, 
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

The Tyger, William Blake

Yet, it is from the same hand of nature, wondrous and magical, that paints with an imagination far beyond that of us mere mortals. Though we are surrounded by leaves all summer, except for the brief moment at the dawn of Spring, we hardly take notice.

Then, as if to draw our attention to the fragility of life and to remind us of the infinite variety within it, the leaves change. The colors emerge, they bring a moment of wonder to our eyes, the colors burst forth, then, as Paul Simon wrote,

…And the leaves that are green turn to brown
And they whither with the wind
And they crumble in your hand

Leaves That Are Green, by Paul Simon

Those swirling leaves that we often curse as we rake them, scrape them from our shoes, and sweep them from our floors are trying to tell us something. Life is not permanent; within every plain green leaf—and within every human being—lies the infinite colors of life if we take a moment to look for it before it is too late.

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This Shall Not Stand!

There are some things one has to learn to tolerate. And there are some things one has to learn to accept. But there comes a time when a situation is so repulsive, so offensive, so demeaning to common decency it upsets the balance of the universe, then one has to draw a line in the sand and shout for the world to hear,

This Shall Not Stand!

I came across this news story the other day and it it inflamed my sense of moral outrage.

Charlie Brown holiday specials move to Apple TV+, ending long runs on CBS, ABC

HOW CAN THIS BE?  America is in the midst of the most divisive election in our history. We find ourselves at a point in time when the very fiber of America’s reason for being is undergoing the most challenging test in our history since the first shots were fired during the revolution.

If ever there was a time when we needed the simple joys of Schroeder playing the Charlie Brown theme song or Snoopy and all dancing in wild abandon or the simple, heartfelt story told by Linus of the tale of a birth in a manger that would change the world or a lovelorn Charlie Brown hoping for a Christmas Card from the love of his young life or the search for the true meaning of Christmas in a spindly sad little tree, it is now.

How can this be? How can the very basis of Christmas spirit-the spirit of giving to those we love and to the whole world—can be denied a new generation or to those who have loved these shows for decades? How can they take one of our most joyful memories and turn it into a commodity?

I stood silent when they stopped showing the Wizard of Oz once a year, but no more!

If you’ve no time to take a stand on anything, never raised your voices against injustice, or stood silent while they stole our most simple, yet valuable, pleasures, now is the time to rise up. Or you will lose something you can never regain.

NO CHARLIE BROWN, NO PEACE

NO CHARLIE BROWN, NO PEACE

NO CHARLIE BROWN, NO PEACE

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Everyone has a story to tell, let us help you share it with the world. We turn publishing dreams into a reality. For more information and manuscript submission guidelines contact us at info@jebwizardpublishing.com or 401-533-3988.

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The Gordian Knot of Being a Cop

The recent incident involving, by most estimates, 100 to 300 ATV vehicles raising havoc on the streets of Providence serves to illustrate the almost impossible situation facing Police Officers today. When presented with a clear and dangerously unlawful situation, officers are expected by some to turn a blind eye and by others to possess some superhuman ability to end such behavior without physical force.

Then, almost immediately, the specter of race is injected into the conversation simply because a police officer was involved with a situation involving a person of color.

I defy most people to provide an accurate description of someone speeding by on an ATV amid uncounted others. The color of their skin is the last consideration at the moment, diving for your life might be the first.

The police are not a force unto themselves. They represent us on the street, and we rightfully expect them to act under the law.  Those who would standby and do nothing in the face of unlawful behavior do not deserve the honor of wearing the badge.

But with that said, we can reasonably expect them to act judiciously with the discretion we empower them to exercise. Yet, the critics swarm out of their holes and rage about injustice absent one scintilla of evidence when they do.

What gets lost in all the ranting and raving by those who have twisted Black Lives Matter’s righteous cause into a carte blanch excuse for criminal and threatening behavior is there are two as yet untold stories here.

Those who would standby and do nothing in the face of unlawful behavior do not deserve the honor of wearing the badge.

The officer will have to explain his actions. If they are found to violate the law or be contrary to department policy, the officer will face the consequences.  I have the utmost faith in Colonel Clemens and the Providence Police to provide a full and complete report to this effect.

And any of the individuals who may be identified in committing criminal acts or motor vehicle violations, including the young man injured in the incident, need to face their responsibilities as well.

The NAACP was quick to characterize this as a racially motivated incident caused by the police. They fail to recognize their own disingenuousness in a rush to judgment. 

The very thing they accuse officers of doing—assuming that because someone is black, they are guilty of a crime—seems to be acceptable behavior. If an officer acts, it must be wrong. There is no need to wait for the whole truth to come out.

While I certainly hope the young man recovers from his injuries, they do not excuse his actions or behavior. One cannot throw yourself in front of a moving train, then blame the train when it doesn’t stop.

Pride, Integrity, Guts

An Apology Long Overdue

I have this memory of a Cumberland High School English class in 1972 where the teacher—whose name I do not recall, but was likely just a few years older than the students— in an effort to be “cool,” asked about our thoughts on the lyrics to the song Thick as a Brick performed by Jethro Tull and written by Ian Anderson.

Instead of forcing us to embrace just the classics of literature, she tried to open our eyes with a more contemporary approach.

I recall only one moment, but it has stuck with me all these years. When asked what I thought about the line, “your wise men don’t know how it feels to be thick as a brick,” my answer was quick and without the least bit of thoughtfulness. 

I said, “it rhymes and fits the music.”

I can still see the disappointment in her eyes. To this day, I don’t know if the disappointment was with me and my callous response or with herself for not being able to reach us on our level..

Still, it has bothered me since.

I now realize many of the songs I grew up listening to carry more than pleasurable rhythms; they contain a wisdom that escaped me at the moment, all to my diminution. Hindsight being crystal clear, I’d like to apologize to that teacher. Better late than never.

Back then, I was often a shining example of “thick as a brick.”

Really don’t mind if you sit this one out.
My words but a whisper – your deafness a SHOUT.
I may make you feel but I can’t make you think.
Your sperm’s in the gutter – your love’s in the sink.
So you ride yourselves over the fields and
you make all your animal deals and
your wise men don’t know how it feels to be thick as a brick.
And the sand-castle virtues are all swept away in
the tidal destruction
the moral melee.
The elastic retreat rings the close of play as the last wave uncovers
the newfangled way.
But your new shoes are worn at the heels and
your suntan does rapidly peel and
your wise men don’t know how it feels to be thick as a brick.

Thick as a Brick by Ian Anderson

Ian Anderson’s brilliant writing contained more gems that may have escaped me at the moment, but have since revealed themselves. Over the years, I have struggled with the simplistic, if well-intentioned, indoctrination in the Catholic Faith of my youth.  As I expand my appreciation for the almost infinite varieties of religious tenets, I’ve also come to see how they are more similar than different. This similarity precludes any of them from exclusivity with the truth.

The demands of a god for devotion and worship. The claims of physics-defying miracles occurring always absent any independent method of verification except eyewitnesses, the least reliable form of evidence. The almost exclusive male dominance of the hierarchy. The gender-specific rules for what to wear, how to worship, and who can lead a congregation.

Once again, Anderson’s writing offers some answers. In the lyrics of Wind-Up, Anderson wrote,

I don’t believe you:
You had the whole damn thing all wrong
He’s not the kind you have to wind up on Sundays
Well, you can excommunicate me
On my way to Sunday school
And have all the bishops harmonize these lines
How’d you dare tell me
That I’m my Father’s son
When that was just an accident of birth
I’d rather look around me
Compose a better song
‘Cause that’s the honest measure of my worth

Wind-Up by Ian Anderson

While most people are sincere in embracing their religion, even if they are somewhat less than consistent in its practice, they seem to miss the point that their faith was indeed “an accident of birth.” If that were not the case, we would offer our children an opportunity to learn about all religions and let them, “Compose a better song, ‘Cause that’s the honest measure of my worth.”

But that’s not what we do. Some have compared religion to a virus. One is exposed and develops the illness, then spreads it to others in proximity.  Some find this comparison offensive because they see malicious intent.  But nothing could be further from the truth. We have all unintentionally infected others with germs, not through intentional acts but through regular daily interaction.

No different than how religions are spread. While some convert from one religion to another, that happens when they are inoculated from the feverish philosophy of one religion by the vaccine of another.

Religion has its place in humanity. But when one religion is pitted against another, or integrated into government’s secular operation, the potential for religious orchestrated pogroms rises.

In this country, many would claim we are a Judeo-Christian based society with no room for Islam, Buddhism, or any other “foreign” religion. Some would argue we don’t need to include the Judeo part because Christianity is the one true faith.  The Catholic faith doctrine is more specific; if you are not baptized, confirmed, and fully committed to Catholicism, you cannot enter heaven.

This seems a bit presumptuous in light of the 4000-plus religions that have claimed to be the only truth at one time or another.

Anderson wrote it, and that teacher put it out there for me to see all those years ago. I just chose to close my mind to the possibilities—something I see in those who refuse to accept other religions’ equal validity.

All those years ago and the disappointment on that teacher’s face still lurks in my memory. I have no idea if she is even still around. But I wanted her to know the seed she planted finally germinated and broke through the brick of my ignorance.

A Letter to My Soon to Arrive Grandchild
Dear FNU (First Name Undecided, I'll fill it in later) How are …
The Dangers of Certainty
One of the most problematic aspects of discourse in politics today is …
Leaves That Are Green
This time of the year, when even on a warm sunny day …
This Shall Not Stand!
There are some things one has to learn to tolerate. And there …

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JEBWizard Publishing (www.jebwizardpublishing.com) is a hybrid publishing company focusing on new and emerging authors. We offer a full range of customized publishing services.

Everyone has a story to tell, let us help you share it with the world. We turn publishing dreams into a reality. For more information and manuscript submission guidelines contact us at info@jebwizardpublishing.com or 401-533-3988.

Signup here for our mailing list for information on all upcoming releases, book signings, and media appearances.

Saints, Sinners, and Sophistry

“One may safely affirm that all popular theology has a kind of appetite for absurdity and contradiction…. While their gloomy apprehensions make them ascribe to Him measures of conduct which in human creatures would be blamed, they must still affect to praise and admire that conduct in the object of their devotional addresses. Thus it may safely be affirmed that popular religions are really, in the conception of their more vulgar votaries, a species of daemonism.” David Hume, The Natural History of Religion

A recent piece of mine (https://joebroadmeadowblog.com/2020/10/17/nationalism-militarism-patriotism-government-and-a-social-market-economy/) brought with it the usual criticisms, recriminations, condemnations, castigations, and accusations. Of course, this is why I do this. Truth be told, I often learn things from those who hold different opinions, and, on the rare occasion, it changes my point of view.

One comment concerned whether I support abortion on demand. They then launched into the usual macabre reference to third-trimester abortion, which is never merely on-demand besides being the rarest of abortions. Nor would any such rational legislative body seek to make it so.

The comment also included a quote from Mother Teresa. 

“America needs no words from me to see how your decision in Roe v. Wade has deformed a great nation. The so-called right to abortion has pitted mothers against their children and women against men. It has sown violence and discord at the heart of the most intimate human relationships. It has aggravated the derogation of the father’s role in an increasingly fatherless society. It has portrayed the greatest of gifts — a child — as a competitor, an intrusion, and an inconvenience. It has nominally accorded mothers unfettered dominion over the independent lives of their physically dependent sons and daughters” And, in granting this unconscionable power, it has exposed many women to unjust and selfish demands from their husbands or other sexual partners. Human rights are not a privilege conferred by government. They are every human being’s entitlement by virtue of his humanity. The right to life does not depend, and must not be declared to be contingent, on the pleasure of anyone else, not even a parent or a sovereign.” 

Rather interesting moral pontificating from a woman who, while she certainly accomplished many good and worthy things, did not differ from the missionaries in the past. They came unbidden, sure of their just purpose, wrapped in the best of intentions, and set about converting those who did not embrace the Christian Faith as the priority, using charity and kindness or, when necessary, more direct measures to mask their real purpose.

If forced baptisms and compelled deathbed conversions to Catholicism were not a well-documented element of her mission, I would have a different perspective. But the truth is, she does not differ from every missionary who dragged Native American children to Indian Schools. They were sincere in the fervor, and it blinded them to what amounted to cultural genocide. What they saw as doing God’s work saving souls allowed them to ignore the destruction of one religious philosophy for the sake of another.

Often those who appear saintly turn out to be a mere self-deception by those who would believe. The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

Mundi vult decipi—ergo decipiatur (The world wants to be deceived, so let it be deceived.)

Petronius

So, on to Mother Teresa. First, I have no doubt about her sincerity that she was doing God’s work. But then every missionary believes in the necessity to convert the heathen masses to the Word of (Insert the name of the particular God here.)

People needed saving from the devil’s false gospel and to bathe in the blood of Jesus. The problem is you can substitute any devil and God in the form of an alternate orthodoxy of any faith and still have the pretense of doing good. At the same time, your real purpose is merely conversion. 

Mother Teresa needed the poor more than they needed her. Here’s what she had to say in her own words from various interviews, movies, and television appearances.

In an interview for a film documented by Christopher Hitchens in his book, The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice, the good sister had this to say about a cancer patient’s suffering.

“She described a person who was in the last agonies of cancer and suffering unbearable pain. With a smile, Mother Teresa told the camera what she told this terminal patient: “You are suffering like Christ on the cross. So Jesus must be kissing you.”  Unconscious of the account to which this irony might be charged, she then told of the sufferer’s reply: “Then please tell him to stop kissing me.” (The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice pg. 44 Kindle Edition)

While being honored at a luncheon meeting at the International Health Organization in 1989. She had this to say about tolerance.

“During her acceptance speech, she spoke at length of her opposition to contraception and her activities to save the unwanted products of heterosexual activity. She also touched on AIDS, saying she did not want to label it a scourge of God but that it did seem like a just retribution for improper sexual conduct. (The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice location pg. 52 Kindle Edition)

While one can argue she inspired many to dedicate their lives to helping the poor and downtrodden, it is a legitimate criticism that her primary purpose was not to alleviate the suffering but to frame it in the context of her fundamentalist Catholic Doctrine.

Many former sisters, volunteers, and medical personnel questioned her rationalization for resisting using pain medications—even in hospice situations—because, she insisted, God sent the suffering and we must be willing to accept his decisions.

Her opposition to abortion aside, arguing against contraception, the one inexpensive and non-invasive method of population control, family planning, and effective means of eliminating overburdened families in poverty, cannot be rationalized.  

It is based on interpretations of ancient texts, rewritten and revised by Popes, Kings, and Priests with vested interests in their promulgation and maintaining male dominance of the religion.

It is nothing but the antithesis of compassion.

There are also many questions about her handling millions of dollars in donations that remain unanswered. These are well documented and available for anyone to inquire about. Her close association with brutal governments, albeit supported by Catholic clergy, questions her judgment.

That some in America would point to her as a beacon of morality is troubling. Leo Strauss, who had a profound influence on the Republican Right-wing majority, said this.

“Christian America cares for people before they are born and after they are dead but is only interested in clerical coercion for the years in between.”

Leo Straus

This perfectly sums up the good sister’s intentions. While she was the founder of a worthy order and can be admired for inspiring many to serve the poor, unmasking her motivations reveals a darker, troubling side. Suffering that can be eliminated or minimized should always be the goal. To subvert that worthy cause in pursuit of some egomaniacal claim to understanding God’s will is abhorrent.

That in the 21st Century, we have people who still believe in beings who can operate outside the laws of physics astounds me. In the debate over morality, if one wants to use religious tenets and the actions of those who embrace them as a justification for holding certain beliefs, one must be willing to scrutinize them.

Like many myths, they rarely survive the inquiry.

But here’s something that is not a myth and can stand up to scrutiny.  One of the most effective ways to reduce abortions is access to birth control and medical care. 

Organizations like Planned Parenthood, whose primary purpose is not to encourage abortions but to provide sound medical advice and options to women of childbearing age, is one such entity.

In the philosophy of Mother Teresa, contraception is against the Word of God and thus equal to abortion in moral terms. Such archaic morality flies in the face of human sexuality. The tongue-in-cheek title of Hitchens’s book, The Missionary Position, illustrates this well. And there is little need to mention the duplicitousness of the Catholic Church’s moral stance in the sexual abuse scandal.

Here’s another myth needing to be dispelled. Third-trimester abortions are common and made at the whim of the mother. Nothing can be further from the truth.

Third-trimester abortions are the rarest of events, always done for medically sound reasons, and are among the most heartbreaking decisions a woman has to make. That anyone would believe this is an appropriate place for external governmental or religious doctrinal intrusion is ludicrous.

Mother Teresa may become a Saint one day in the Catholic Church. Part of that process will include the advocatus diaboli, the Devil’s Advocate. It would be interesting to hear how those arguments are framed.

In the mythical realm of Saints and Sinners, we are all just human. No evidence exists to the contrary.

______________________________________________________________________________

As always, I await the onslaught of criticisms, recriminations, condemnations, castigations, and accusations. I shall prepare another coffee and await my fate…

Nationalism, Militarism, Patriotism, Government, and a Social Market Economy

The United States faces a crisis of conscience in the coming years. Our turn toward isolationist policies lacking any consideration for global impact places us in a precarious position. We lost much of our international influence by exchanging it for almost total dependence on overwhelming military superiority.

While the ability to defend oneself is critical, the use of such strength as a bludgeon against both allies and enemies to bend to our will is a near-sighted policy. The rallying cry of the “patriot” is often the first step towards disaster.

We are smarter than that.

This confluence of “isms” in the US culminated with the election of Donald Trump and a sharp turn away from what this country once represented; strength wielded with compassion. While labels can only go so far in defining individuals and policies, they are generally used in a derogatory way or, when meant as a positive attribute, often absent a full understanding of their meaning.

It is important to know what one is promoting before embracing a myth.

Nationalism: identification with one’s own nation and support for its interests, especially to the exclusion or detriment of the interests of other nations. (Oxford Dictionary definition)

Militarism: the belief or desire of a government or people that a country should maintain a strong military capability and be prepared to use it aggressively to defend or promote national interests. (Oxford Dictionary definition)

Patriotism: the quality of being patriotic; devotion to and vigorous support for one’s country. (Oxford Dictionary definition)

64 Best Patriotism Quotes And Sayings Of All Time

Former Commandant of the United States Marine Corps and Medal of Honor recipient for Gallantry during the Battle of Tarawa in World War II, General David Monroe Shoup, had this to say about such philosophies.

“The battle successes and heroic exploits of America’s fine young fighting men have added to the military’s traditions which extol service, bravery, and sacrifice, and so it has somehow become unpatriotic to question our military strategy and tactics or the motives of military leaders.”

He went on to say about the growing American involvement in Vietnam,

 “militarism in America is in full bloom and promises a future of vigorous self-pollination — unless the blight of Vietnam reveals that militarism is more a poisonous weed than a glorious blossom.”

One can easily see how those prescient words were both correct about our involvement in Vietnam (which Shoup opposed) and about our situation today.

The most mystifying thing about it is how a man like Mr. Trump, who avoided the draft, ridiculed those who serve, and denigrated those who died in the service of their country, became the poster child for all three, nationalism, militarism, and patriotism.

While each has a place in building and securing a nation, they also pose a danger when left uncontrolled by reason, rational policies, and compassion for our global society.

It is time for Americans to take a long, hard look at themselves before they lockstep off a cliff singing God Bless America in pursuit of a greatness that is a sham.

Then there are labels like socialism which are often thrown out as a threat to our capitalist system. A more thorough examination of the American form of government, one which reveals the true genius of the founding fathers, shows our government and economy are not pure capitalism.

Much of our success came from governmental intervention into the excesses of capitalism. Labor laws, workplace safety laws, collective bargaining, product liability, antitrust laws, all had a negative impact on profits for the higher purpose of protecting workers, consumers, and the environment.

The words “collective” bargaining itself carries socialist tendencies since it levels the playing field between the wealthy business owners and those whose labor makes the companies successful.

Social Security, Unemployment benefits, Disability benefits all provide support derived from the profits of a capitalist economy which otherwise would have been denied.

Our economy, like it or not, is a blend of capitalism and socialism. And Democratic Socialism–a philosophy that seeks to balance the downsides of a free market economy with fair treatment of labor–is not opposed to capitalism. It opposes excesses and provides a balance.

Here’s how the Oxford Dictionary and other sources describe it.

A social market economy is a free-market or mixed-market capitalist system, sometimes classified as a coordinated market economy, where government intervention in price formation is kept to a minimum, but the state provides significant services in areas such as social security, health care, unemployment benefits and the recognition of labor rights through national collective bargaining arrangements.

The social market economy refrains from attempts to plan and guide production, the workforce, or sales, but it does support planned efforts to influence the economy through the organic means of a comprehensive economic policy coupled with flexible adaptation to market studies. Combining monetary, credit, trade, tax, customs, investment and social policies as well as other measures, this type of economic policy aims to create an economy that serves the welfare and needs of the entire population, thereby fulfilling its ultimate goal (http://germanhistorydocs.ghi-dc.org/docpage.cfm?docpage_id=3415)

The fact is there are many countries who enjoy higher standards of living, better educational opportunities, better access to medical care, lower infant mortality (which relates to access to health care), and other benefits through social democratic reforms.

Norway, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Great Britain, Canada, the Netherlands, Spain, Ireland, Belgium, Switzerland, Australia, Japan, and New Zealand are just a few examples.

The American Experiment, an appropriate analogy since experiments adjust to new evidence, faces a critical moment. Do we revert to the harshness of a government that turns a blind eye to abuse of labor? Do we ignore the health needs of Americans because of pressures from those who place profits over people? Do we let the paroxysms of nationalism and militarisms mask the true nature of the American soul? Do we ignore the scientific evidence of climate change for the sake of profiteering from the demise of our world?

It is time for Americans to take a long, hard look at themselves before they lockstep off a cliff singing God Bless America in pursuit of a greatness that is a sham.

A Letter to My Soon to Arrive Grandchild
Dear FNU (First Name Undecided, I'll fill it in later) How are …
The Dangers of Certainty
One of the most problematic aspects of discourse in politics today is …
Leaves That Are Green
This time of the year, when even on a warm sunny day …
This Shall Not Stand!
There are some things one has to learn to tolerate. And there …

************************************************************************

JEBWizard Publishing (www.jebwizardpublishing.com) is a hybrid publishing company focusing on new and emerging authors. We offer a full range of customized publishing services.

Everyone has a story to tell, let us help you share it with the world. We turn publishing dreams into a reality. For more information and manuscript submission guidelines contact us at info@jebwizardpublishing.com or 401-533-3988.

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Derin Devlet is Coming for You

In light of the President’s latest maniacal ravings before the American people ( I didn’t watch it live, I was taught it was not polite to watch someone suffering from a mental meltdown) wherein he embraces Q-Anon and the other fallacies like the DEEP STATE, I thought I would repost an earlier piece about the insanity of those embracing such theories.

I equate them to prehistoric humans cowering in terror from the lightning battles of the gods, sacrificing a fellow human to appease the anger of the unseen supreme beings.

They were certain of the necessity and effectiveness of the sacrifice, and the truth of the existence of invisible, angry, and lightning wielding gods, because the lightning always stopped after one or more of their fellow believers paid the ultimate sacrifice.

Top 10 Historical Events With Conspiracy Theories – Facts WT

Our march to the future seems to be suffering from arrested development. I have no doubt that in the future there will be raucous laughter in a college, high school, kindergarten history class when they learn how America once gave the Presidency to a fool.

But here’s one of the fantasies our President embraces.

Derin Devlet is Coming for You

Beware. I have warned you. Derin Devlet is coming for you. Derin will steal your rights, your freedom, and perhaps even your life. Derin can manipulate the news, drive the economy up or down, start wars, alter history, and control the media.

They have warned us and yet Derin is still there; lurking, immortal, invisible yet affecting our everyday lives, all to Derin’s whim with little regard to anything else except maintaining the power and the continuity of Derin Devlet.

You may know Derin by another name. Throughout the long history of the world, Derin has borne many names. Derin Devlet is his Turkish name, translated literally to Deep State.

While many Americans believe the “Deep State” to be a monolithic, if secretive, behind-the-scenes group of well-organized individuals holding vast power and controlling the government, the reality is different.

Some would argue it’s the Civil Service, career bureaucrats engaged in what some see as subverting elected officials’ policies. Others see it as preserving the law. The deep state exists in various manifestations.

The first use of the term seems to be in 1817, John Fitzgerald Pennie’s “The Varangian, or Masonic Honor,” offered this dialogue of two servants working a large banquet hall filled with contriving earls and knights.

Second servant: “Oh, could I but pry into these deep state secrets! I would give my very head to — Third servant: “Thus mayst, for aught ’tis worth.… Would I could pry into a venison pasty…. I will see what cheer the buttery yields.”

Second servant: “Then art thou come in right good time: there’s glorious feasting here. But thou, dull fellow, hast no great regard for plots and state affairs.”

Third servant: “No; but I have for the sad state of my deserted bowels.” (https://www.thenation.com/article/what-is-the-deep-state/)

Here’s the way Mr. Trump seems to see the Deep State.

If an allegation against, let’s say Billary Hinton, is unprovable, then the Deep State protected him, or her, or this fictitious person who bears no resemblance to any person living or dead or soon to be living or dead or otherwise real.

If an allegation is proven against, let’s say, Dichael Bohen, or Dichael Slynn, or the other 35 individuals indicted (so far) by someone with a name like Mobert Bueller, (again all fictitious individuals I mean 37 people indicted in one organization in government and not part of Organized Crime? Come on!) the Deep State conspired to make it happen.

One might make an argument the deep state exists, in an existential sense, by looking at the effect it has on public perception with little firm evidence of its reality. The Deep State lives in the minds of many, and thus it exists.

I offer here a proof of this Deep State and the power it wields. John McCain did not die. He was promoted to Director of Deep State from Beyond, and his one job is to torment Donald Trump.  You have only to read the maniacal ravings of Mr. Trump and see McCain’s evil hand forcing the President to hit Tweet, Tweet, Tweet all night long.

Derin Devlet is coming for you. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

A Letter to My Soon to Arrive Grandchild
Dear FNU (First Name Undecided, I'll fill it in later) How are …
The Dangers of Certainty
One of the most problematic aspects of discourse in politics today is …
Leaves That Are Green
This time of the year, when even on a warm sunny day …
This Shall Not Stand!
There are some things one has to learn to tolerate. And there …

************************************************************************

JEBWizard Publishing (www.jebwizardpublishing.com) is a hybrid publishing company focusing on new and emerging authors. We offer a full range of customized publishing services.

Everyone has a story to tell, let us help you share it with the world. We turn publishing dreams into a reality. For more information and manuscript submission guidelines contact us at info@jebwizardpublishing.com or 401-533-3988.

Signup here for our mailing list for information on all upcoming releases, book signings, and media appearances.

Music Hath Charms…

William Congreve, a 17th Century English Poet and Playwright, is likely the
most misquoted, unknown, yet vaguely familiar writer of that era. His line, “Musick has Charms to soothe a savage Breast, to soften Rocks, or bend a knotted Oak” (Almeria in Act I, Scene I)  has been twisted to “Music has charms to soothe the savage beast” likely because of America’s squeamish Victorian attitude to the word “Breast.” 

What is it with boobies, hooters, etc., in America?

He is also the author of the line,

“Heav’n has no rage, like love to hatred turn’d, nor hell a  fury, like a woman scorned,” (Zara in Act III, Scene VIII) twisted to “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.”

It got me thinking, as many things are wont to do, about how our misconstruing original meanings can hide things. One way this happens is with music. Don’t try to follow the path of my thinking, you’ll hurt yourself, perhaps irreparably.

Music can hide unpleasantness in a pleasing tempo, rhythm, or chord progression.  We often miss these meanings in our blissful humming of tunes.

By way of example, I picked two popular hits of the 60s (combined with the
beginning of the 1970s, the last decades with music of enduring value.)

Delilah,

I saw the light on the night that I passed by her window
I saw the flickering shadow of love on her blind
She was my woman
As she deceived me, I watched and went out of my mind

My, my, my Delilah
Why, why, why Delilah
I could see, that girl was no good for me
But I was lost like a slave that no man could free

At break of day when that man drove away, I was waiting
I crossed the street to her house, and she opened the door
She stood there laughing
I felt the knife in my hand, and she laughed no more

Writer(s): J. Shirl, H. Manners Pseud., Jack Mendelsohn, Henry Katzman

It would seem Tom Jones’ amazing voice—loved by millions and, ironically, women in particular—was so hypnotic he could sing of murdering his lover while his fans would sway and swoon to the tune.

But it turns out, even a different style singer—in this case, Kenny Rogers—held a comparable control over his fans while singing a similar tune of domestic homicide.

Ruby don’t take your love

Oh Ruby
Don’t take your love to town
She’s leaving now cause
I just heard the slamming of the door
The way I know I’ve heard it slam 100 times before
And if I could move I’d get my gun
And put her in the ground
Oh Ruby
Don’t take your love to town
Oh Ruby for God’s sake turn around

(Written by Mel Tillis)

Music does indeed hath charms not only to soothe the savage breast, but to make even murder danceable.

I have no doubt there are other examples. It is, perhaps, a cautionary tale we must embrace. Otherwise, like the Pied Piper of Hamelin stealing away the children, a well composed music piece may lead us over a cliff as we sing ourselves to our demise. Or worse, force us to use the word breast in public.

Pied Piper in Police Procedurals | Visualizing Wonder

______________________________________________________________________________

If you liked, or hated, this piece please comment, criticize, and share. Here’s some more to stimulate your thinking.

A Letter to My Soon to Arrive Grandchild
Dear FNU (First Name Undecided, I'll fill it in later) How are …
The Dangers of Certainty
One of the most problematic aspects of discourse in politics today is …
Leaves That Are Green
This time of the year, when even on a warm sunny day …
This Shall Not Stand!
There are some things one has to learn to tolerate. And there …

JEBWizard Publishing (www.jebwizardpublishing.com) is a hybrid publishing company focusing on new and emerging authors. We offer a full range of customized publishing services.

Everyone has a story to tell, let us help you share it with the world. We turn publishing dreams into a reality. For more information and manuscript submission guidelines contact us at info@jebwizardpublishing.com or 401-533-3988.

Signup here for our mailing list for information on all upcoming releases, book signings, and media appearances.