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..
At the end of last week, the Associated Press reported that the Trump administration released a five-year off-shore drilling plan that would open up to 90% of coastal waters of the east coast, west coast, Gulf of Mexico, Alaska… A consortium of environmental groups denounced the plan. Our administration would scale back significantly (if not altogether) offshore drilling. The 2010 Deep Water Horizon accident hemorrhaged the equivalent of a phenomenal (and absolutely environmentally disastrous) 4.9 million barrels of oil. Then, prior, there was the huge Santa Barbara oil spill. Every time we drill out there, it’s metaphorically like spinning the chamber in a deadly Russian Roulette game. It’s time to stop the game. What’s more, in the face ongoing severe global warming weather events, our administration’s ‘five-year-plan’ would be about dramatically scaling back our carbon footprint — not adding to it. For a closer look at our Energy Plan, see…
The 2017 Tax Bill was signed into law today by President Trump. In a George Will op-ed piece that appeared today, he writes: “…a presidential assistant calls this year’s tax legislation ‘the most significant tax reform we’ve had since 1986.”‘ Which is like bragging about the tallest building in Boise. The 1986 tax reform radically simplified the tax code. Since then, the code has acquired more than 15,000 new wrinkles. The 2017 tax legislation might — this is difficult to measure — have managed the minor miracle of making the 70,000 page code more complicated.” My campaign’s tax reform, conversely, would make the tax system a whole lot less complicated. There would be an easy one-page form, for practically everyone — with a simplified progressive tax. Loopholes, etc., would be all but eliminated. (There are currently some 173 of them.) Why eliminate most? Because American taxpayers currently spend approximately $200 billion and 5.4 billion hours working to comply with federal taxes each year. Time that could be better spent. Money that could be better spent. That simple. For more on our tax policy proposal, see…
I was reading Hillary Rodham Clinton’s book Hard Choices today. In a chapter about terrorism, she states: “…we can see that violent extremism is bound up with nearly all of today’s complex global problems. It can take root in zones of crisis and poverty, flourish under repression and in the absence of the rule of law…” Good analysis. So to fight terrorism, common sense says a main front should be trying to impact, for instance, global poverty. A kid in a dead-end poverty loop in our cities are drawn to a: gang. A kid in a dead-end poverty loop in the Third World is drawn to a: terrorist cell. So how do we fight this? We take Lyndon Johnson’s “War on Poverty” international. Yes, the U.S. does help internationally already. But frankly, we could help so much more! If we tightened our belts: less food (66% of Americans are overweight); less luxury items (fewer air conditioners, fewer wide screen TVs, fewer cars with all the options, fewer unneeded new home additions…). Two things happen with this strategy. Terrorism decreases in kind. And one’s spirituality increases in kind. It’s a win/win. For our position paper on terrorism, see…