issues in modern america

I attended an “Issues in Modern America” forum, of sorts, yesterday at Bluffton University.  Students in a class by that name had designed display boards around various societal topics and explained the data, and their views per: solutions to the “issues” they outlined.  One man, who is a 2nd Amendment advocate and did his display on guns, nevertheless said in the current climate he would lobby for another dimension to gun background checks.  That is, he’d lobby for a standardized psychological test to help red flag people with mental disorders.  Our administration would be on board with the latter… A sophomore did her display on heroine.  She explained opioids are often a stepping stone to heroine, as addicts’ tolerances increase… Yet another woman did a display on the national/global epidemic of obesity.  She said 17% of American youth, for instance, are now considered obese.  And she blames a lot of it on sugar addiction, being continually parked in front of a virtual world, and little physical activity.  She proposed, for instance, that schools be open after hours for youth to have another option for a venue to exercise more.  Our administration would be open to promoting this as well, for, not only exercise, but for a variety of other reasons.  See our position paper on education…

Tariffs on China; forced abortions in China

The Trump administration just slapped tariffs on some Chinese imports in an attempt to achieve more trade parity.  The question is:  Should we be trading with China at all?  I was listening to a U.S. human rights lawyer on a Catholic radio show last night.  She said statistics indicate that for every one abortion in America, there are 23 abortions (a significant number of them “forced”) in China.  (China now has a “Two Child Policy.”)  Our administration would look at these forced abortions as the height of human rights abuses.  And we would consider a trade moratorium until, at the very least, the forced abortions ended.  One could look at it, in fact, as one BIG sanction.  For more on our stance on China, and our take on foreign relations in general, see… [for the China policy, go to #3.]

sociological constructs; hatred; Native Americans

For the past couple weeks, I’ve been reading the college text book: Essentials of Sociology.  If you’re going to be president, understanding the “essentials” of sociological constructs would seem important, huh.  Just sayin’.  Anyway, this morning I was reading a chapter about “Inequalities of Race and Ethnicity.”  It was noted, among a lot of things, that:  “When state machinery is harnessed to hatred, as it was by the Nazis — who exploited the schools, police, courts, mass media, and almost all aspects of the government — prejudice becomes practically irresistible.”  Ok…  U.S. “state machinery,” if you will, was harnessed to hatred of the Native Americans at the beginning of this country, as an example.  This “prejudice” led to one of the biggest genocides in the history of mankind (20 million people killed), and the wholesale taking of land (every treaty with the Native Americans was broken).  And none of this has been made right on any type of significant level.  Our administration would propose it be made right, in spades! See our position paper on Native American issues.

How China views us [U.S.]; nuclear proliferation; answer to Doomsday

In trying to understand more about the U.S.’s history with China, I picked up the book: China’s America (The Chinese View of the United States 1900-2000) by Jing Li.  The author notes that a consistent thread in our relationship is the view [on both sides] that we have been “limited adversaries.”  For instance, Mao Zedong, who was Chairman of the Communist Party in China for almost 30 years (1949 to ’76), used the U.S. to rapidly mobilize industrialization in China (in part, to fuel the weapons industry there) by constantly reminding his people of this external menace, according to the book.  This, in part, was due to our rapid military build-up during this time…  It’s all a geopolitical chess match, with many decisions having to be thought through in regard to how nations will act across the board — not merely in a duelist paradigm.  That is, in this case our Cold War military build-up was primarily about trying to outmatch Russia.  Yet our build-up of, say, nuclear weapons, propelled seven other major countries into a nuclear proliferation race that now, with one push of a button, could obliterate the entire globe.  Note: We have thought through a military position paper that could well start to sanely, and incrementally, reverse this ongoing, quite scary, and quite possible, “Two Minutes to Doomsday” scenario.

“space force”; manned Mars trip; real answer to guns

On President Trump’s visit to inspect the border wall prototypes in California a couple days ago, he also stopped at the Air Station at Miramar.  While there, the news reported that he said we could, sooner than later, expect a manned space flight to Mars.  And he also more than hinted at the development of a “Space Force.”  Some thoughts:  On a campaign tour in Texas several years ago, I told a Gainseville Daily Register newspaper reporter that as president I would be totally opposed to militarization of space, period.  Conquering space?  It’s not ours to conquer. What’s more, while we’re spending billions of dollars to go to Mars where there’s no air to breathe, no food, no measurable water… millions of people on this planet are regularly starving to death, have no access to cleaning drinking water, and are in the cross hairs of rapidly advancing climate change.  Wouldn’t the money, and scientific brain power, be put to much better use, again, on this planet?  Common sense says: yes.  Note:  Yesterday students across the country walked out of school for 17 minutes to commemorate their fellow students who had been killed in Parkland, Florida, several weeks back.  While politicians waffle about gun control, and more youth continue to be in the cross hairs of real guns, our position on guns is unwavering — and, we believe: the real answer.

Sarah, Haiti, foreign relations policy

Our daughter Sarah is leading a missions trip to Haiti this week for her Spring Break.  She’s been to Haiti twice now and Nicaragua once during her four years at college.  Just yesterday, I picked up a Mary Knoll Magazine with a story about Haiti and the aftermath of the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that devastated Haiti several years back — killing nearly 300,000 people and leaving millions in even more desperate straits than they were already in.  As just one example, a woman’s husband died in the quake.  She was now alone — with eight children.  Sarah is going to work with people like this.  She’s going to try to make their lives a little bit better, while showing the light of Christ.  What a phenomenal “First Kid” she’d make, huh.  Actually, she’s pretty phenomenal right now, First Kid, or not.  Note:  Some Hatians came here after the earthquake, but recently there have been news stories their time will soon be up and they will have to go back to Haiti.  These are people, many of them, who have gotten jobs, places to live, their kids have schools, friends… And we’re going to send them back into the poorest country in the western hemisphere?  Are we spiritually nuts?  For more on a foreign relations paradigm that would be a lot more spiritually sane than we have now, see our position paper on foreign affairs.

Youth for Christ outreach; basketball “under the lights”

Wednesday night my son Jonathan and I played basketball under the lights in Lima, Ohio.  That didn’t just happen.  Several months ago, Jonathan and I volunteered for an evening at a Youth for Christ outreach called Rally Point.  Following the meal and spiritual program afterwards, Jonathan and I went out onto a fenced in basketball court where we played… in the dark.  The only thing lighting the court was a quite distant, and just as dim, streetlight down the road.  On the way home to Bluffton that evening, Jonathan was visibly upset and repeated several times that that just wasn’t fair to those kids — especially because there are nice lights on the outdoor courts in Bluffton.  Jonathan then decided to do something about that.  He prepared a light project fundraising talk, gave it to the Ebeneezer Church “Connecting Group” here, and raised $300.  I then enlisted a professional electrician, who also goes to Ebeneezer Church, to help with the lights.  Then last Saturday the three of us went to Rally Point and spent most of the day on the light project.  It worked.  In fact so well, the director is now thinking of opening the court most evenings as a safe zone this summer there in the heart of a quite hardscrabble area.  The director said to me that he’s currently reading the book Doing Hard Things, about today’s teenagers stepping up to do “hard things” to make a difference in the world.  He added Jonathan’s efforts with all this would definitely fall in that category.  Note:  We did a five year stint in a hardscrabble area of Cleveland doing outreach with the Catholic Workers there. This, too, included basketball, and a whole lot more.  For more on this, see

tariffs, trade wars, doing the right thing

Trump has just signaled his intention to impose more tariffs.  Some fear a trade war.  The book Trade and Income Distribution notes that one important trend in the American economy in the past 20 years has been an increased openness to “..the flow of goods, money, people and ideas” internationally.  Read: globalization.  A globalization America has, so often, taken advantage of in a spiritually detrimental way.  For instance, with government subsidies and advanced technology, a modern American corporate farm can grow at such volume that it is able to undercut, say — a subsistence farmer in Guatemala selling to a local market.  Our administration would focus more on a globalization that promoted trade parity in concert with social justice so we’re not hurting, but rather helping, more of those on the margins worldwide.

China: abolishing term limits for president; his plans; persecution increases

The NY Times reported that China’s Communist Party has cleared the way for President Xi Jinping to stay in power indefinitely by announcing it intends to abolish term limits.  Jinping’s agenda revolves around: a global infrastructure plan; reorganizing the military; bulking up domestic security; and enforcing “ideological purity” in schools and the media.  To the latter, I was recently doing some research per: how that “ideological purity” is affecting Christians in the country.  Above ground Christian/Catholic churches in China are tightly monitored and in recent years (since Jinping got into office) persecution of Chinese underground church Christians has intensified measurably — with both violent and non-violent methods, according to the US-based NGO Freedom House…  Our administration would graphically point to all this and concurrently put in place sanctions in an attempt to curb some of these flagrant Chinese government human rights abuses.  To look the other way would simply be tantamount to a huge American-collective spiritual mistake.  Our campaign does, indeed, come at foreign relations in a different light — but its an approach long overdue in this country.

 

 

Florida school shooting; on “arming” teachers; on conflict resolution

On the Florida school shooting and “arming” teachers…  I just read a post from a teacher who wrote that if we want to “arm” her: arm her with more teacher’s aids so she can give more individual attention to her students; arm her with more school counselors; arm her with less standardized test criteria so she can focus on more creative, and individualized, teaching; arm her with smaller classroom numbers, so, again, she can have more time for individual students…  It was as if she’d read our position paper on education.  Note:  I talked with an educator from the Bath, Ohio school system today.  He said a proportionally large number of students at his school come from poor (“…like trailer park”) backgrounds.  Because of the poverty, he said, there is sometimes trouble at home.  This is compounded by some of these kids being made fun of by the more popular, more well off, students at school.  This, he said, can sometimes become a perfect recipe for a kid psychologically exploding.  In our cross country research, we learned at Wilmington College’s Peace Center in Ohio that they have weekend Conflict Resolution events, bringing together key kids from different school peer groups to get to know each other, to see each other behind the masks, so to speak.  I’m told this is effective.