CNN News report lead in: “A gunman unleashed horror at his former high school in South Florida on Wednesday (yesterday), authorities said, slaughtering at least 17 unsuspecting students and adults and leaving the country asking why another school massacre has happened yet again.” Why? Because America has evolved into what the late St. Pope John Paul II labeled a: “Culture of Death.” Yesterday, also, 4,000 babies were dismembered and killed in their mothers’ wombs. And that didn’t even make the news. Yesterday millions of kids and adults sat in front of screens watching movie, TV show, video game… extreme violence — helping keep the Culture of Death around all this going. “Sanctity of Life” is also disregarded on other fronts as we move closer and closer to euthanasia and assisted suicide being the law of the land in all 50 states. The opiod crisis claims 150 lives a day now, while 22 veterans commit suicide every day now. Then there’s the streets of Chicago… We’re awash in death. Yet most of us are just as awash in apathy — especially if it doesn’t affect us directly. Sad spiritual thing here, though, is that apathy will spell the (eternal) death for countless others. I recently gave a 10-minute talk addressing all this, and more. The talk is titled: WAKE UP AMERICA!
I was just reading a Wall Street Journal article today about Myanmar’s Rohingya fleeing violent persecution into Bangladesh. More than 700,000 people have packed into camps there in the last year, according to the report. Bangladesh, which is poor country itself, is struggling to help all these people. Meanwhile in the First World, majority are living in big homes (especially in comparison to Third World homes/shacks). And we binge on food and endless entertainment… while our countries keep their immigration quotas low. Not exactly sound spiritual principle. For more on our administration’s answer to a good deal of this, see our position paper on poverty. Note: Trump seems to be not very concerned (and that’s an understatement) on the plight of these people in these poorer countries. We would be.
In the book A Farewell to Alms (A Brief Economic History of the World), author Gregory Clark writes of the Industrial Revolution: “The classic description has also suggested that significant technological advances across disparate sectors of the economy contributed to growth during the Industrial Revolution, again pointing toward some economy-wide institutional change or equilibrium shift.” And it would ‘shift,’ dramatically. While there was economic benefit to many across a spectrum now with the Industrial Revolution, other things came with it as well. With mass production came a “throw-away” society orientation. With heavy industry came more and more pollution. What’s more, assembly line workers putting, say, one part in a car eight hours a day often undercut the essence of ‘work and human dignity.’ On balance, `the Industrial Revolution might not have been such a good thing, huh. But nobody (but the Old Order Amish, etc.) stopped to question it. Most just got swept up in it. Our administration would push for a return to an agrarian-based society that revolved around Decentralism. See…
Just read a NY Times piece on outgoing California Governor Jerry Brown. As a slate of new candidates line up out there, one particularly stands out to me: Desmond Silveira. Like Brown, he would lean toward social justice, toward good environmental stewardship, toward fiscal responsibility… But unlike Brown (and most Democrats) on some social issues, Silveira also stands against abortion, he stands for traditional marriage, he stands, in fact, for the gospel message (and Catholic Church teaching) across the board. In fact, his platform very much matches up with ours.
At our Wednesday night Spiritual Book Study, we’re currently discussing the book Uncomfortable by Brett McCracken. McCracken, a Christian, notes Jesus said: “Whoever loves his life, loses it. And whoever hates his life in the world, will keep it for eternal life.” So… The operative question the first night was: “How do we feel about our lives?” Most people in the group acknowledged that their lives in small town Bluffton, Ohio, were, well, pretty “comfortable.” Three square meals and snacks; relatively nice homes (as compared, say, to most people in the inner cities and Third World); no shortage of entertainment with TVs, internet, etc.; more than adequate vehicles; friendly safe village atmosphere… Why, most were living the “American Dream.” So, what does that say about the “American Dream,” spiritually? Does it say that perhaps, oh, we’ve got it spiritually backwards in this country when it comes to aspiring to this iconic “American Dream” that was sold to us? Note: To put “flesh” on all this, see my Dec. 25, 2010 blog entry.
I was reading that presidents Obama and Bush both designated Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a “service day,” and each volunteered at various outreaches on that day during their presidencies. (Trump played golf at Mar-a-Lago that day.) So in that tradition (no, not golfing), I spent time today doing the preliminary leg work for a Bluffton St. Mary’s Youth Group volunteer outing at the City Mission in nearby Findlay, Ohio. I had previously written a newspaper article about the Mission. (second story down the page). Phenomenal place. It has a highly creative mix of tiered programs to help the homeless get on their feet and stay on their feet. There are 21 people on staff and 200 active volunteers. They provide life skill training, job training, tutors, art therapy… They also liaison with such groups as Bridges Out of Poverty; Century Health (mental health service); Drug Court… What’s more, the Mission takes no government money. Most everything is subsidized by private and church donations. I started the article by writing that the homeless figure in America would decline by two-thirds if every significant sized town had a City Mission.
As a follow up to my last entry on the social work field, I picked up the book: Social Work with Groups (Social Justice Through Personal, Community and Social Change). In a section about lab group work through activity-centered therapy, it talked about “socio-recreation activities.” The book used the example of a group of youth using hip-hop music as the center piece for such group activities as discussing song lyrics and how they relate, say, to someone’s struggles. The youth might also write their own hip-hop music; listen together to the music; decorate the therapy room with posters of hip-hop artists… Our kids in this country are in trouble. Many seem ostracized. Many others feel not understood. And yet others simply feel lost in a fast paced, distracted world swirling all around them. The social work field has a lot of extremely creative, extremely effective, models to help these marginalized youth. As the “…adults in the room,” its our responsibility to mobilize as many of these strategies as possible to help these kids not fall through the emotional cracks, so to speak. Note: This is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Our administration would mobilize a comprehensive, tangible amends program for African Americans to, finally, make right what we should have been making right in this country for quite some time now. For more on this, see
In a book titled: The Ohio Reader, I was reading a section today that noted the lack of social workers is contributing to over-crowding in the psychiatric units throughout the state. With less social workers in the field, to help people with life skills, to help people work through emotional issues, to help people manage taking, say, their medications, and so on, some of these people, inevitably, will devolve to the point that they need extended psychiatric stays. (I am a former social worker, did some liaison work at the Cleveland Psychiatric Hospital, and know this to, indeed, be true.) So, picking up the ball where Rosalyn Carter left off, our administration would push for more funding for the Mental Health field to put it on a par with the Physical Health field, so to speak. Our society, at present, is replete with people with mental disorders, addictions, etc. And common sense says we need to devote more time and resources toward this if we want a more (for lack of a better word) sane, balanced society.
To gain more of an overall historic perspective on the current North Korea situation, I picked up the book: The Korean War by Mathew Ridgway. Neither side, the North (with aid from China and Russia), or the South (primarily aided by the U.S.) “won” in the traditional sense of that word. Ridgway notes that the following encompasses some of the reasoning for the U.S. not pushing harder for outright military victory during that war: “It is clear that [America’s] top civilian and military leaders, using a wider-angle lens, with deeper sources of information on the atomic situation in the Soviet Union, and with more comprehensive estimates of possible consequences of general war in Europe, had a much clearer view of the realities and responsibilities of the day. In their view, the kind of ‘victory’ sought by the Theater Commander [General MacArthur], even if it were attained in Korea, would have incurred over-balancing liabilities elsewhere.” Okay in my perspective: On an international stage, things are, indeed, often a geopolitical chess match where it is extremely wise to anticipate future moves in regard to the move you are making now. And that’s the kind of measured, thoughtful approach I’d take with North Korea, as I would take with foreign (and domestic) policy in general.
According to the Toledo Blade News Services, The Trump Administration said it is ending special protections for Salvadoran immigrants, which will force 200,000 people out of America by Sept., 2019. Salvadorans have had special protection here since earthquakes struck their country in 2001. What’s more, the article noted that in the last decade many Salvadorans entered the U.S. illegally also fleeing extreme abject poverty and extreme violence in their country. So… We’re going to send these people back into that? Yesterday I was reading a book titled: Calvin Coolidge (The Quiet President). Part of it read: “To Coolidge the development of character was the highest ideal, for on it depended the achievement of other ideals: service, justice, spirituality…” Okay… Where would sending these Salvadorans back into the horror of cartel violence and extreme poverty match up with any of the latter qualities? And what does that say about the ‘character’ of our current president — and the populace that elected him in regard to, for instance, their paradigm around immigration? Just askin’. For a look at our paradigm around Hispanic immigration from places like El Salvador, see..