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
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.
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.
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.
A recent NY Times article noted that Republicans promised to end “fiscal recklessness,” yet they have been tremendously free-wheeling in creating yet more debt with, say, a new spending deal “…that would blow through the caps imposed by the 2011 Budget Control Act.” The article goes on to note that “…the long-term implications of all this borrowing put the United states on track to ultimately owe more to its creditors than the economy produces over the course of a year.” And, the nation’s debt tops $20 trillion now… First off, we need to tighten our belts and pay this off so our kids don’t inherit it. Secondly I told the Delphos Herald newspaper in Ohio: WE NEED SOMEONE IN DC WITH A CALCULATOR THAT WORKS! Then they would use that calculator to total all the revenue that came in in a given year. And then here’s the game plan: The federal government wouldn’t spend any more than it had. Common (fiscal) sense. Note: While campaigning in Wyoming, I saw a front yard campaign sign of a woman running for state auditor. It had her name at the top, then read: “Tightening Wyoming’s Belt.” She won… In our travels, I talked to a small town CPA at one point who said his business didn’t do so well last year — so his family had to “ratchet down expenses.” Why wouldn’t that be any different for the Federal Government, he wondered.
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.