What Now?

I did not deny God’s existence, but I doubted His absolute justice.
- Elie Wiesel, “Night.”

I’ve been reading a few pages, each evening, of “Night” by Elie Wiesel. I can only take a few pages before I have to set it down. I inwardly shout, “Get out! Leave! Now! Run!” Night recounts Wiesel’s experience as a Romanian Jew during the Holocaust. It is profoundly sad. I can only internalize so much of his account before I become anxious and unsettled.

When I heard of the Connecticut massacre, of 20 children dying (seven adults, too) I was immediately sickened, physically nauseated by the senselessness of killing babies. You ask yourself, “How can this be? How can slaughtering innocence ever be contemplated, let alone acted upon? Why would this happen?”

That’s really not the question needing asked. But rather, how was this massacre perpetrated? (Answer: see assault weapons.)

The timeless question for our species is why is man so prone to violence, so willing to hurt and humiliate?

I was taken aback by former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee’s observation on the Connecticut massacre that, “We ask why there is violence in our schools, but we have systematically removed God from our schools. Should we be so surprised that schools would become a place of carnage?” I found his comments both disgusting and surprising.

Surprising from the perspective that I thought, Huckabee, as an ordained Southern Baptist minister, would have emphasized that God is present everywhere and always. He suggests the contrary. That because prayers are not offered in public schools, what? Death and mayhem shall ensue?

As a non-believer in a personal god, I find such questions intriguing. In the 2011, visually stunning movie, Tree of Life, a character observes, “He sends flies to wounds he should heal.” He, of course, is God. It’s a legitimate observation to me. One, I imagine, discussed from church pulpits all over America last Sunday. It is a question that can only be finessed because that is exactly what the Old Testament God does time and time again.

It begs, however, the question, “Why?” I have questioned the existence of God ever since I was old enough to realize that really bad things happen to good people. Why? Where was God during the Holocaust? Or, during the Trail of Tears? Or, the Moro Massacre? Or, Sandy Hook Elementary School? Was God’s attention diverted, busy creating other universes? Discussing whom to smite with Archangels Gabriel and Michael? Was God on vacation?

I don’t think that is the case because if I were an omnipotent, omniscient, forever-always-present God, I would know that Adam Lanza would on December 14, 2012 systematically execute innocence. These children had no choice of “free will.” If I knew humanity was capable of the Holocaust, would I (God) not reasonably tweak ever so slightly my design of mankind?

Why were children massacred in Newtown? Because a mentally deranged man had ready access to assault weapons. He went off the reservation of “acceptable” human behavior.

No, a far better question is how was the act accomplished? To the degree we can identify and help the mentally ill is one issue, with what ease (how) we slaughter each other is quite another.
Happiness is not a warm gun. John Lennon knew that.

Mankind must remember that peace is not God’s gift to his creatures; peace is our gift to each other. Elie Wiesel

What now?

O’Beauty, Cuff Me Now!

We live only to discover beauty. All else is a form of waiting. – Kahlil Gibran

My sister, Saint Sandra Once of Socorro, recounts a wonderful story of a herd of wild African buffalos that each day traveled from where they rested at night to savannahs of grass they grazed upon during the day. At the close of each day they could go directly back to their place of rest but consciously opted to go out of their way, up a rather long hill that overlooked a valley, where they paused to watch the beauty of the setting sun. The human observing this choice believed that these wild creatures had a sense, an appreciation for the beauty of this world such that they intentionally sought it out.

I particularly like this story because it illustrates the power of beauty, that it is such a prevalent feature of life (our universe) that its recognition (relevance) is observed in lesser mammals. Humans throughout history have endeavored, regardless of circumstances, to have beauty in their lives.

It is the rare human environment that has no personal examples, no individual expressions of what constitutes the sublime (beauty) for that person. I prefer Botticelli’s Primavera over, say, an Edgar Leeteg-like black velvet Elvis but that merely illustrates the personal nature of beauty. My mother, could be a bit judgmental in this regard, that an affinity for “lowbrow” art (a velvet Elvis, for example) indicated that that person’s taste was all in their mouth. Haha! Love that Moms.

While in Ashville, NC this past summer I visited the Grovewood Gallery adjoining the Grove Park Inn. The Gallery offers an exceptional presentation of fine American craftsman. I viewed furniture covered with fabrics created and produced by Mary Lynn O’Shea. Absolutely stunning. I was the equivalent of a lumbering water buffalo dumbstruck by the beauty of an African sunset. Only it was gorgeous fabric.

One thing led to another. I contacted Mary Lynn O’Shea, spent approximately 55 days visiting her website (http://mollyrosedesigns.com/), ordering and reordering fabric samples, talking extensively with the Vermont artist, ultimately selecting four patterns for a chair and ottoman I had reupholstered at Decorative Home Interiors (9205 South US Hwy 17-92, Maitland – 407.339.4432). DHI is owned by Terry & Nadine LaLonde. They offer extensive lines of fine fabrics, do marvelous work and I cannot recommend them highly enough. Tell’um Chris sent-cha!

The aesthetic experience is a simple beholding of the object….you experience a radiance. You are held in aesthetic arrest. - Joseph Campbell

In my newly reupholstered chair I will be . . . sitting during my next experience of aesthetic arrest. O’beauty, cuff me now!

Momma Knows Best.

Intellectually, it is far easier to get your head around what a pox mankind is for our Mother Earth. Emotionally it is quite another thing. Since we walked out of Africa (we are all Africans) approximately 125,000 years ago, Modern Man has rapaciously consumed the environment, never really pausing to consider our impact upon the planet.

By the 1970s, however, it became clear to the most casual observer that human activity (population growth, agricultural practices and industrialization) was quite literally destroying Earth’s rich diversity of life.

Everyday we are inundated with countless “canary in the coal mine” examples of the specific impact we humans have on the land, water and air that sustains us. Our oceans are warming and increasingly acidic. Our topsoils are washing/blowing away or relentlessly sprayed with polluting herbicides and fertilizers. Our atmosphere is increasingly filled with carbon dioxide. Animal, plant and marine species are becoming extinct at an ever-accelerating pace.

We are fishing our oceans clean of edible species. Our fellow humans are “harvesting” perhaps this moment the last elephants and rhinoceros of Africa. 25 million Brazilians now live in the South American rainforest with more humans on the way. In the next few decades all of Earth’s coral reefs will have succumbed to warming waters and acidification. The fresh water Himalayan glaciers that today quench Asia’s insatiable thirst are inexorably melting away.

All of this we are well aware. All of this is caused by human activity, by human population levels unhealthy and unsustainable for our planet’s ecosystem. And there is virtually nothing we can do about it. Even if we stumbled upon “cold fusion” tomorrow, discovered how to cleanly desalinate ocean water and developed innovative new food sources not requiring yet more untilled acreage or scarce freshwater, mankind is heading to a day of—let’s speak euphemistically—to a day of, uh, adjustment. The bill is coming due.

It’s ironic to me that the one nation on earth that should be at the forefront of building a sustainable population and economy is the United States. But now we are hearing increased rumblings that America is heading for population problems. Our birthrates are “plunging” and we could soon become an “empire” in decline if we don’t increase our national population (look at Japan we are constantly admonished). We are told that if our population is not expanding, that our economy will not flourish. Who’ll support the aging Boomers for gawd’s sake?

Our economic model is predicated on growth. Growth today, growth tomorrow, growth forever. It is a growth based on an ever-increasing population (to be consumers — to buy Pampers, toasters and vacations). Not only in America but worldwide.

There is no economic alternative (sustainable & green) being offered that is not predicated on an ever-increasing world population. More people – more growth – more consumption. To argue otherwise and you are painted as un-American, a collectivist and anti-human. To challenge why America “needs” to be at 500 million people, well, we’re talking jobs. And, that I totally get. It is hard to embrace “sustainability” with so many babies crying for more.

Yes, let’s avoid today’s financial “melt down.” But unless we, as a species (nations), imagine and create a sustainable future, what we now experience as a “cliff” will be remembered as a distraction.

Either we humans wisely reduce our population or Mother will do it for us. Mom will cull the herd, our economies be damned.

Whammy Burger Nation

The Platonic idealist is the man by nature so wedded to perfection that he sees in everything not the reality but the faultless ideal which the reality misses… George Santayana

Irony, of late, has garnered a bad name. Sincerity is the valued coin of the realm these days. And so it is with the burgeoning Secessionist Movement, where disillusioned Americans petition to withdraw from the Union. My inclination is to ridicule such sentiments particularly since the location of secessionist rhetoric is centered in the Heart of Dixie. I do attach racist and nativist underpinnings to the Secessionist “argument” but I think something else is going on as well.

An appropriate illustration of where a number of our fellow citizens find themselves (me, too, at times) is in our sympathy for the character Michael Douglas plays in the 1993 movie “Falling Down.” Douglas portrays a recently laid off defense contractor employee, William Foster. Foster is divorced, disillusioned, depressed and in despair. All he wants is to attend his daughter’s birthday party but has a restraining order against him by his divorced wife. Caught in LA freeway traffic, he abandons his car and begins the long walk across the city to see his daughter.

Foster has many run-ins on his journey crossing a modern American hell but the classic confrontation (for me) occurs in a fastfood restaurant featuring the Whammy Burger. Foster orders off a visual menu showing the quintessential perfect hamburger—The Whammy Burger—photographed to steaming culinary perfection. Alas, when it arrives, it is anything but. It’s pathetic. Soggy bread, wilted lettuce and a piece of meat the size of a burnt quarter. What happens next is what all of us have all dreamed of—Walter Mitty-like—doing. Worth a look-see.

I liken the Secessionist mindset to Foster’s viewing of the perfect Whammy Burger. In the back of the Secessionist mind is some ideal of an American golden-age, a blessed America, of that “shining city on the hill.” Yet the reality of our pluralistic democracy, with all our diverse constituencies vying for power and preference, well, it is a shockingly rude slap to the face to those who have an idealized (or infantile) conception of American history. As has been observed the making of slaughterhouse sausage and representative democracy have much in common.

Secessionists lament the loss of freedom. I am unsure of what loss they mourn. I recently attended a private Shoot’N’Annie along the St. John’s River with enough guns and ammo to have respectably defended Stalingrad in 1943. I do not see any loss of freedom when it comes to the Second Amendment. No one is requiring anyone to attend a specific church. You definitely can speak your mind in America.

No, Jepson, loss of freedom when it comes to taxes and onerous regulations (like being required to contribute to your healthcare). Ah, taxes and regulations. “Oh, wouldn’t it be loverly” to again have an American population of 3.9 million, as was the United States in 1787, with an entire continent at your feet, virtually vacant, to exploit. Just over the next hill, the long arm of “that” onerous government nonexistent.

America was never the “faultless ideal,” the most perfect of Whammy Burger Nations. And this, Dear Reader, is what is. A diet of illusion and ignorance are always menu options in a democracy. What’s the tagline? Tastes Great! . . . Less filling! Not very sustaining in the long run, however. For the individual or the nation.

It’s All Mirth To Me.

But you’ve got to try a little kindness
You show a little kindness . . .
. . . overlook the blindness
Of the narrow minded people
On the narrow minded street.

Glen Campbell

I get sorrow. I do. It’s part and parcel with being human. Lives abruptly end, rudely out of natural “sequence” (my incredible sister Susan for example, a son in Afghanistan or a child at birth). Floods (see: Katrina/Sandy) wash away our possessions (mom & dad’s treasured marriage certificate and photos – my gawd how young and beautiful and full of life they were!). Relatives/friends deconstruct in real time—over decades no less—sorrowfully sucking the joy out of daily life. Tragedy (sorrow) is one job loss, one car accident, one diagnosis, one fall, one moment away.

And then you die. I am 63 and by my reckoning I have 19 years remaining. And I am completely okay with that. My grandfather lived until age 83, my father until age 81. I’m splitting the difference. I’ve eaten far less red meat and consumed but a mere fraction of the whiskey they downed. Each generation, however, has its vices. I’ve also been exposed to far more pesticides and industrial chemicals/additives—we’ve all been—than our parents and grandparents. I will, however, be extremely disappointed (and will, indeed, rage) if I do not get my full 82 years. Give or take six months.

Intellectually, I am disappointed that this shell called Christopher Robin, like all human carapaces is built for speed (metaphorically speaking – our all too brief life spans) and not for the long haul (hundreds/thousands of years— as some trees for example).

My death does not in the least perplex me. I wish I could have it “all” but, alas, sigh, my end is knowable and certain. I entertain no fantasy of an everlasting afterlife sitting at God’s feet, in raptured bliss, singing hosannas to His splendiferous magnificence. That is so much nonsense (to me). Asserting there is life after death is a mythology, a bridge to get “you” through the darkness of that long night (the realization and disappointment accompanying the finality of individual human existence).

Some argue that in order to rein in humanity’s excesses, religion was created (by man) and the cudgel of “judgment” the ultimate instrument of control. What you do in this life determines the quality of your next existence. The Ancient Egyptians had Ma’at. She weighed souls in the underworld and a “feather” was the measure of whether or not your ultimate destination was paradise. Christian beliefs are essentially not much different.

It’s all myth to me. Or, shall I say, it’s all mirth to me.

Ah, the timeless question. If there is no personal god, no life after death, how then shall we behave today? If I am not going to be judged—rewarded or punished—why act one way or another?

I find this question infantile. You don’t rape your neighbor’s daughter because you might go to hell?

We’re a young species, out of the trees, walking upright but for a brief few moments (relatively speaking). We’re (humanity) making it up as we go.

This Thanksgiving, let’s all pursue, as pragmatist Richard Rorty recommended, “The creation of a world in which tenderness and kindness are the human norm.”

Yes, as Otis Redding once so melodically sang, “Try a little tenderness.”

Make that your Thanksgiving grace. For all seasons.

New Tricks For Old Dawgs?

A lot has been said about the Presidential election that unless the Republicans expand their base of support, the GOP will inevitably slide into irrelevant obscurity, modern day Whigs, if you will. The GOP is essentially a white person’s political party. Break it down even further, it’s essentially an old man’s whites-only club. Deconstruct it even more, Romney carried the Old South (Dixie) and a few low population western states. It begs the question of how much of the anti-Obama white vote was based on the President being a black?

Racial prejudice is something I’ve never quite understood. Interesting that some of the whitest states, Iowa for example (90%+ white) voted for Obama. A majority of white Iowans voted for Obama whereas that was not the case in Southern States. A vast majority of white Mississippians, for example, voted for Romney. Why the difference? Why would Iowans, an overwhelmingly white state vote for Obama yet a majority of white voters in Mississippi would not?

I believe a percentage of the anti-Obama white vote was based on voter discomfort with having a black man lead the United States. A black president does not validate or confirm “that” voter’s worldview. I think if you pressed such a voter, they would predictably deny racial prejudice.

Of course, there are a myriad of reasons why anyone selects one candidate, one political party over another. I do believe, however, that a candidate’s race does, pardon the pun, “color” some voter’s perspective and how they ultimately vote.

What does any of this mean for the Republican Party winning national (or even statewide) contests? If a vast majority of your party is made-up of old white men (and women), future demographics are running against you. The reality is running, contrary to the lyrics that, “Time is on my side, yes it is.” Except it isn’t. Our growing multi-cultural, ethnically diverse population will not come “running back” to white America. It’s over, white boys.

As a white boy myself, I grew-up in lily-white Iowa. In my hometown of Sioux City in the 1950s & 60s, there were perhaps, at most, 50 black families. Even during the demonstrations and violence of the Civil Rights movement race was not a regular topic of discussion around my dinner table. Vietnam was a much more discussed issue because of its potential impact on the family (my brother and I were of draft age).

None of my friends, save my best friend Ron Jones, ever mentioned black people or the challenges they faced. Racial epithets were never thrown around because, I believe, it was not the language we heard in our homes. Not because “we” were better but because race wasn’t an issue, in the community’s face, so to speak. There were no civil right’s marches in Sioux City that I ever recall.

In 1974 while back in Sioux City, my father volunteered (out-of-the-blue) something to the effect, “You know, son, I had it wrong. Negroes have had a raw deal in America. They were enslaved and are horribly treated yet today. They are just seeking their due justice. They want to have what the rest of us have.” Amen, Dad.

That didn’t mean he’d have been overjoyed with a black family moving in next door. My father is dead. As will be the GOP if Republicans do not lose their prejudice of minorities—of every color and, as importantly, of every persuasion.

All Aboard!

There is a part of me that wants to be more detached from the daily hub-bub of modern life. I don’t want to care so much about who won Tuesday’s election or whether or not the Florida Constitution is amended—again—by right-wing craziness. Obama-Romney? Tweedle-dee-Tweedle-dum. But, but, but he’ll nominate Supreme Court judges who’ll, who’ll . . . Yep, he probably will. Yet, as Annie sings, “The sun will come out tomorrow.”

I’ve been reading of late on Epicureanism. I recommend, my informed reader, that you do as well. The faithful are typically told to dismiss Epicurus and his philosophy as treacherous hedonism because of his emphasis on the pursuit of pleasure and happiness. Oooooh. Nasty, nasty. Pleasure and happiness. Nasty. Read last year’s Pulitzer Prize winning book for history titled, The Swerve by Stephen Greenblatt. Quite an enjoyable read on how the West (Europe) was fortuitously reintroduced to Epicurus in the 15th century.

Epicurus was a 3rd century BC Athenian philosopher who advocated sensible approaches to living, one of which, however, I have a hard time following. Epicureans avoided politics (governance), that hot, tumultuous cauldron of public life. Epicurus recommended we literally tend our “garden” and avoid the meaningless distractions from that riotous mob forever barking nonsense at your “garden’s” edge. Mind your own business, be contemplative, pursue friendships, live moderately, happiness and pleasure are life’s legitimate pursuits, think/live rationally and do not fear death. That is quite a reasoned agenda. And, one sadly at odds with our increasingly superstitious and religiously reactionary times.

I am drawn by the idea of withdrawal from society or, rather, withdrawing from actively participating in the idiocy of my fellow man.

I am such a fatalist, at this point, concerning the environment of Florida, or of any of the, as yet, still pristine parts of Earth. For that matter, I am beyond weeping for what “we” are losing or have already lost. Everyday a new report is issued on the ongoing rape of the planet. If Republicans think—really?—that women experience illegitimate rapes, one can only imagine their explanations for the ongoing rape of our Mother Earth. Democrats are complicit as well in the desecration of the planet. It’s all a matter of degree, of proportionality. It’s all about jobs don’t-cha see.

As well it should be. Seven billion swilling at the trough today, another two billion predicted to arrive this century. 310 million Americans today, perhaps 500 million before 2100? Won’t that be just great, so environmentally healthy for North America? Sustainability? Why consider such nonsense?

Our industrial farming is poisoning our land and water and our agricultural practices are washing our topsoil at record levels to the sea.

Our military is a bloated albatross around our national neck but instead of lightening the burden we forever mindlessly salute the Stars & Stripes and look for other world “opportunities” to liberally impose democracy at the end of an American gun barrel.

I enjoy mindless bromides such as, “There is no I in Team.” Well, we’ve reached a point where, “There is no “WE” in America.” Our politics, our leaders, our policies are obscene.

Perhaps this is what fixes our interest and participation. With fingers splayed, we watch transfixed at this utterly fascinating train-wreck called humanity. Such art! Obscene? You bet! But, my gawd show me more.

Mr. Conductor, puh-leeese, punch my ticket through to the end of the line.

I’m going all the way! Woo-Woo!

I See Republicans . . .

Recall the 1999 Bruce Willis movie titled The Sixth Sense. Out of that quite good little drama came the now famous line, “I See Dead People. And They Don’t Like You.” That catchy expression morfed into many variations but my t-shirt favorite went, “I Hear Voices . . . And They Don’t Like You.”

I’ve been trying to understand what is going on in the Republican Party when it comes to women, their bodies, sex and fertility. It’s essentially a male run concern, the Republican Party, although you have a predictable number of Republican women serving as faithful acolytes. Outliers, if you will, at odds, in their solidarity with their American sisters at large.

American women who willingly participate in their own subjugation remind me of those unfortunate women who perform the barbaric female genital mutilations in Sudan and Somalia. No woman, free of male domination (thinking), would voluntarily oppress other women in such ways.

It is as if Republican men are ignorant of history. For past 8,000 years, the male boot has been firmly placed on the neck of females. I do not know if we’ll ever understand the historical origins of why men came to consider women as “less” than men, but it is undeniable that that is/was the case. Bigger, more ferocious, men like to dominate.

Religions, too, historically, have played a tragic role in the marginalization of women. Although, interestingly enough, it was Martin Luther who, during the 16th century Reformation, jump-started the change in the status of women. He advocated that women be taught to read (imagine that!) and he married (radical idea: a married clergy). Educating women (reading) was the game-changer, however.

Go back and examine the status of Western women even during our more enlightened times. They were hardly enlightened for women. Plato’s Greece, The Renaissance, The Age of Reason were all unquestionably oppressive for women. In 1792, Mary Wollstonecraft issued her now seminal A Vindication Of The Rights of Woman and the case for female equality was formally up for public discussion.

It took until the mid-19th century before British women could make any claim to personal property or even to her own wages. Reflect one second on this fact: the United States gave the right to vote to emancipated male slaves—SLAVES—decades before America’s daughters were afforded that right. That is how little women were considered.

There was a time in my grandmother’s adult life when she could not vote. Less than 100 years ago, American women could not vote. That is a nano-second ago, historically speaking.

The Republican Party is the party of female oppression. It revolves around who will control a woman’s sexuality and fertility. The Republican Party Platform (Mitt Romney & Paul Ryan) would have the government, for all intents and purposes, regulating and managing a woman’s uterus. Will our daughters someday—upon the onset of menses—be required to register their uteruses to ensure their compliance with state fertility laws?

Abortion, birth control, fertility, reproductive prerogatives are individual, fundamental female (human) rights. To interject the state into this dynamic is totalitarian and unacceptable.

Republicans would deny female autonomy, would continue to place the historical boot heel of oppression upon the necks of our daughters. Expect each American woman to think and act for herself.

I See Republicans . . . And They Don’t Respect Women.

Vote accordingly.

Putting the E in Human

Much has been made this election season over which candidate is telling the truth. Or, presenting “the” facts. I am not sure of the relevance of truth but I do believe uncertainty is critical in a democracy such as ours. Certainty cuts off dialog, limits conversation and is anathema to developing imaginative solutions to societal issues.

My favorite book of the past 20 years begins with, “About two hundred years ago, the idea that truth was made rather than found began to take hold of the imagination of Europe.” I highly recommend Richard Rorty’s “Contingency, irony, and solidarity.” His observation about truth being made rather than found crystallized for me a way of thinking about myself and my place in society at large.

I consider myself, philosophically, a pragmatist. Pragmatism was an early 20th century American philosophy that can, perhaps, be best summarized by “whatever works, is likely true.” As reality changes, so too, “whatever works.” Truth varies. Truth is changeable. No one possesses the ultimate truth. We should avoid seeking anything metaphysical, the truth of an idea is in its observable results.

Rorty was a pragmatist. He wrote, “Modern, literate, secular societies depend on the existence of reasonably concrete, optimistic and plausible scenarios, as opposed to scenarios about redemption beyond the grave.” Too much of our national conversation today is overly concerned with matters of faith and truth. Rather our conversation be a discussion of developing workable ideas to alleviate the suffering and humiliation of our fellow citizens.

Poverty, for example, confronts us all daily. Regardless of whether we are impoverished ourselves, it is hard to ignore the exit ramp veteran, hand out, dirty and demoralized. Or, the ubiquitous near toothless vagrant from public housing interviewed on TV about the recent mayhem besetting his neighborhood. Poverty is a factor of the human condition. Deuteronomy 15:11 says, “There will always be poor people in the lands.” That observation is as accurate today as it was when written thousands of years ago. But because poverty and despair are part and parcel of the human condition does not absolve our nation—you and I, America collectively—from pursuing solutions.

We once, too many decades ago, had a “War on Poverty.” Many argue it failed. It didn’t accomplish its goals. Poverty persisted. It was too expensive. The results were ambiguous. Besides, the Bible says, “There will always be poor people.” As if that is an argument for doing less.

So many clichés that do not really reflect the reality of being impoverished in America. “The poor need to pull themselves up by their bootstraps.” Or, “Being broke is a temporary situation. Being poor is a state of mind.” Or, “Our life of poverty is as necessary as the work itself. Only in heaven will we see how much we owe to the poor for helping us to love God better because of them.” What a crock. All of it.

The measure of a culture is how well it takes care of its least capable citizens (its children in particular). Because we once waged war on poverty—yet the poor remain—does not mean we do not pursue pragmatic approaches to alleviating the suffering in America. There are no certain remedies. But we must be relentless in our attempts.

To be truly human is to be humane. Make that truth, you.

I Am A Liberal.

I am a liberal. Probably not your typical liberal as I genuinely do believe, “The cowards never started and the weak died along the way.” That’s an unattributed observation describing American pioneers who walked alongside their Conestoga wagons to Oregon in the 1840s.

I am a liberal who does not want to support other men’s children. I don’t. Do not have children you cannot afford or are unwilling to parent. That goes for the women associated with such men. Do not breed unless you have the wherewithal to support your progeny. Have the decency and self-respect to take care of you and yours.

That said I am a liberal who believes everyone who is here today is part of the Home Team. Everyone. Addled homeless war vets, too.

Children, however, do not ask to be born to mindless, irresponsible, impoverished (fiscally, emotionally, intellectually) parents. They arrive and as such it behooves us (America) as a culture to make sure that their parent’s “shortcomings” are not visited upon their progeny. To break the circle of poverty, we must invest in America’s mothers and in prenatal care. We must provide (encourage) safe, accessible and affordable birth control to limit the number born to impoverished Americans. Nutrition, housing, healthcare and education for all our children are societal obligations. Half measures, as are readily apparent, produce stunted children, ensuring that the cycle of poverty is perpetuated.

I am a liberal who does not believe “jobs” is the answer to “all” our problems. Our environment is crumbling (melting if you will) before our eyes. The coming havoc that is on our horizon—once thought to be a century away—may yet arrive fully realized in my lifetime. Half of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is dead or dying from acidification and rising oceanic temperatures. The Northwest Passage we all learned about in grade school will soon be a reality. Imagine the day—that will arrive—when the waters from the Himalayan glaciers no longer flow into India and China. Imagine when the Colorado watershed cannot sustain the populations of America’s West?

I am a liberal and I do not care one iota what religious beliefs you embrace in order to make sense of our world of sorrow. I laugh out loud at Christians who say Mormonism is nothing more than a bizarre sect. That getting your own planet upon death is just too far out, yet God sending Himself to be tortured, to die on a cross for our sins, only to be literally resurrected is somehow more believable.

I am a liberal who does care, however, if your religious beliefs impair the national conversation by limiting the discussion of how we rationally, reasonably address issues of climate change, environmental desecration, population control and women’s rights.

I am a liberal who feels too much humanity, too many hungry mouths at the trough is not some divine plan but a catastrophe building upon itself. Why, if America has so many impoverished—even in the best of economic times—why is another 200 million citizens acceptable population growth?

I am a liberal who believes “humans” are shortly out-of-the-trees (so to speak) and that we are quite nasty little monkeys still learning how to live harmoniously together as a species.
If we worship anything, it should be in our ability to rationally construct a better future. For all Americans.

I am a liberal and that just may not be in our cards (future).

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