… on… hate….

messages-from-the-future-22-evn-smlr
Being a citizen of the United States Of America the past 8 months have been excruciatingly difficult to endure.  We have a President (along with other White House leadership) with no self-control, no discretion, no discipline, no compassion and no love who continues to emotionally/psychologically abuse, harass and harm the very people he is supposed to lead.  Never has so much damage been done in and to the office of President of the United States than has occurred under Donald Trump.  It will only go to deepen the cynicism and distrust that people have for politicians.  I think the notion of a politician being a force for good is not even possible with the current leadership.  It has been depressing to daily and sometimes hourly see breaking news stories of how the President has, yet again, done something so outrageous and shocking that it is virtually unbelievable.  We are being forced to watch a reality media show that is seemingly never-ending.  And the media is focusing on the sensational.  Now I have no great love for the media and that is about the only thing Donald Trump and I have in common.  Our reasons for disliking the media are completely different.  I would like to see more investigative journalism and less sensational journalism.  Trump just decries anything he doesn’t like as “fake news”.  But it’s NOT fake news it is the reality we live in.

This past weekend we saw many developments in the United States.  The rise of racism, talks of secession, hatred for all things non-white.  And in the past few months we’ve been seeing the increased likelihood of nuclear war with North Korea, Venezuela, and a trade war with China.  Sure with all this “madness” it would be easy to throw in the towel and say it is WAY bigger than anything I can have any power over or change.  But I’m not ready to do that.  Now more than ever we need to be strong.

We do need to look at both sides of a story but we also need to address and stand up to those values and positions that would harm others or enslave them for ones own enrichment.  For example: The American Constitution has a provision for free speech and lawful assembly.  These laws apply to ALL people – even people who believe differently from me. So for neo-nazis, white supremacists etc; we must acknowledge they have the right to protected free speech (we just don’t have to like it).  Just like people who oppose them have the right to protected free speech.  Now I know a lot of people are going to be uncomfortable with that notion. But as a follower of Jesus Christ I am a FIRM believer in what he taught about loving ones enemies (I’ll explain more on that later). It’s just that in these troubled times it is difficult to STOP, take a moment, consider, weigh ones reactions before making those reactions public.  But that is exactly what we must do.  I do not love Donald Trump’s policies I specifically hate his approach to what should be collaborative, positive working relationships.  I hate his non-stop “twittering”.  But I do NOT wish him dead.  I hate now Trump and many in the white house continues to hold his business interests (even if they are in his children’s names – who are his official presidential advisors and aides) creating conflicts of interest. I cannot hate a man who is misguided, foolish, delusional and emotionally unstable.  I can honestly say I’ve had to think about this long and hard.  The past 8 months have shown me that we all have the capacity for hatred but we do not all act on that.  I understand why people may think that the only way to solve this crisis we face in America is to kill or assassinate Donald Trump.  I understand because I felt myself slipping into the same hate for hate thinking and had to stop myself.  I pray to God that Donald Trump is not assassinated.  Here’s why.  I don’t have any confidence in the Vice President that would take his place.  And killing Donald Trump would only give the alt-right extremists the martyr they’d love to have – which they would use to justify further violence.  On top of that as a Christian I am against the death penalty for anyone because I believe that just as God gives life he also takes it away it is not up to man take life away.  And anyone who behaves abominably should have the opportunity to change or, to use an archaic term, repent.  If they are killed we are depriving them of that opportunity.  So death is NOT the answer.  But Donald Trump should be impeached and that needs to happen ASAP (in my opinion).  I seriously doubt that Trump will survive to the end of his first term.

Sadly America can only blame itself for creating AND electing Donald Trump the tyrant. No one should be surprised by what he is doing.  He used the same tactics in his reality TV shows.  People who have participated in his shows “THE APPRENTICE” and “CELEBRITY APPRENTICE” have noted how Trump would pit people against each other, he would harass and harangue people to create and build drama in the show.  He is a victim of his own celebrity – believing in a false value of self.  Unfortunately, we can see that what works on television isn’t what works as a world leader.  He has also gotten support from an “Evangelical Right” that uses scripture to justify and encourage Donald Trump giving him a false moral justification for all he does.  This same type of Evangelical movement that uses the Christian Bible to justify white supremacy also supported Hitler and The Third Reich (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_Evangelical_Church).   I also think it may be time to do away with the electoral college.  There was a time when the electoral college had value.  But in the internet age the electoral college is an archaic institution that can only do more harm than good.  It is time to elect leaders only by popular vote.

Now about love.  It may seem odd and unlikely to read about love in this type of post.  I think it is necessary to bring the needed balance and provide level-headed options to the discussion.   Please consider this; how do we love a tyrant, a despot, an oligarch, a hate-filled man? We CANNOT react in the ways he reacts.  We can find ways to slow down the discussion allowing time for all parties to think about their positions.  We can act respectful to them without agreeing with them.  We can seek to remove them from their position for their own good.  Donald Trump is clearly over his head and he is being battered on all sides continually and that would be enough to make anyone crack.  The kindest thing we can do for America is also the kindest thing we can do for Donald Trump.  Impeach him.  Remove him from the position that is causing him so much distress.  And wish him well as he leaves.  Now I’ll be the first to admit this is easier to type than actually practice.  Love is not some easy fluffy romantic notion – it is something we have to work at.

One of the benefits of writing this is that it also reaffirms what I believe and helps give me the strength I need to practice what I “preach”.  I cannot hate Donald Trump I can only hate the carnage he has created while in office.  I do not believe there are evil people only evil actions.  And I choose to not act evil or out of malice toward my fellow Americans, or any living beings.  And if I do act evil (because I am human and have occasional weakness) it is a weakness that I quickly seek to remedy.

Matthew 4:43-45 (NIV) “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.

Feel free to agree or disagree on any and all points.  That’s why it’s called free speech.  We can disagree and still be respectful.

***If you think more people should see this post – feel free to re-post.

… on color or b&w….

Some people prefer color and others prefer b&w.

In an image saturated society which has more impact and why?
Of course there are several considerations to make before answering such a question.

“image saturated society” ~
What does that mean?
How does it shape our perceptions and tastes?
How does it determine our escalating sense of reality?
How does it change how we process/create the images we see?
Where is the “truth” in an image? – What is “true” in an image?

reeds-and-ropes-bw

reeds-and-ropes

God the Punisher?

So after reading Exodus 34 I’ve been rethinking this whole notion of God as punisher of those who do evil – which is a common Christian outlook. Exodus 34:3-7 recounts Moses acquisition of the second set of the “ten commandments”, and lists some of Gods attributes. I want to focus on just one of these – punishment/retribution. Like many things in the Bible there are two sides to this and neither is what it seems on the surface.

Verses 6 & 7 read,

The Lord passed before him and proclaimed: “The Lord! the Lord! a God compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in kindness and faithfulness, extending kindness to the thousandth generation, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin; yet He does not remit all punishment, but visits the iniquity of parents upon children and children’s children, upon the third and fourth generations.” [JPS translation]

First the good news. The good attributes such as “slow to anger, abounding in kindness and faithfulness, extending kindness…” covers a thousand generations. It goes on and on. So-called punishment is only for up to 4 generations.

First I want to question the word “punishment” – which is a common translation. And I’ve always questioned this notion of God punishing children for their parents misdeeds. But if we read it literally that is what it seems to talk about. Let’s think about this. Punishment is something unpleasant imposed by authority on someone or some group for wrong action. In other words punishment is a consequence of wrong action. So let’s get away from the notion of punishment as a whip, hanging, or imprisonment. Lets think about consequence.

Now let’s think about what this consequence is in these verses. We learn that God does not bring the consequences himself. The consequences of wrong actions by parents and society are passed on to their children and even their children’s children [i.e. future generations]…. Now I know you’re probably tempted to say, “but wait” and revisit my previous comment about God punishing children for parents mistakes – BUT STOP!

We are talking about consequences. Cause and effect. Let’s think of the bigger picture here. I’ve always loved the Native American quote from the Iroquois Nation. To paraphrase their Great Law,

“In every deliberation, we must consider the impact on the seventh generation… even if it requires having skin as thick as the bark of a pine.”

We have become a very temporal minded society, living for the moment and not thinking ahead to the consequences of our actions for our children and future generations. Another consequence of our temporal society is that we’ve become more reactive than proactive. Me must find a way to think about this. Parents must consider how they teach & discipline, their children. Parents must consider how children learn from their beliefs and behaviors (emotional and physical action). As a society we must consider how our actions in environmental issues, urban planning, government etc will impact future generations. Because our wrong or right actions now WILL HAVE CONSEQUENCES on our children and children’s children for at least the next 3 or 4 generations (according to the Bible). God doesn’t punish our children for our mistakes – we do. If you don’t want your children to suffer from your wrong actions – carefully consider your actions to begin with; in every situation.

Does this mean we don’t or won’t make mistakes? No, we will still make mistakes but if we are mindful and aware, considering our actions we will be able to correct the mistake much sooner. There will still be strong debate over what constitutes right actions in a larger public arena.

“attention customers…”

I have worked in the service industry all of my adult life – that totals 35 working years. Here in the United States there is a phrase that has been tossed around the service industry so much that it has become and is perceived as a behavioral truism to be honored, revered, respected and upheld at ALL costs.

That phrase is:

The customer is ALWAYS right!

This type of “truism” has served no one – not even the customer. It has made businesses make concessions where none should be made just to avoid bad press. It has made some customers abusively use the perceived truism as a weapon to get what they want. Worst of all I believe it to be wrong, incorrect and without benefit for individuals and society.

It would be better to say, “The customer is sometimes right and sometimes wrong.” But people will reject that because no one wants to take responsibility for being right or wrong – or, take responsibility for determining who is right or wrong. According to the business satisfaction model currently in use – it’s better to just pay the customer off and give them what they demand.

What’s the cost?
IS there a cost?
How does this behavior affect the economy?
Does this behavior encourage more greediness and entitlement?
Or, does it simply uphold the golden rule by being willing to “take a hit”?
Does this behavior ultimately hurt?
Who does it really hurt?
How is the person who feels entitled and determined to get what they feel they deserve hurting themselves?

What do you think?