I had a “political science session” last night with my daughter Sarah who has just finished up her sophomore year at Franciscan University. The session shed some key light on an Obama administration’s transgender related bathroom “directive” that had gone down earlier in the day. Sarah’s political science professor was Benjamin Wiker, PH.D., who wrote the book Worshiping The State (How Liberalism Became Our State Religion). Sarah said that Professor Wiker noted that in Machiavelli’s time he believed a “king” should appear “…all mercy, all faith, all honest, all religion.” But that this is just a ruse to mask “…inward amoral, irreligious Machiavellianism.” Wiker wrote that a really clever ruling atheist could use the “art of duplicity” to effect his agenda. Fast forward to now… President Obama appears affable enough, genuine, and says he’s a practicing Christian. However, his wholesale support of abortion, gay marriage, transgender bathrooms… are agendas that are expressly antithetical to the gospel message. Machiavellian duplicity? Could be.
Jimmy Carter and Dr. Norman Borluag, who helped bring a “Green Revolution” to India and Pakistan in the early 1970s by increasing their rice and other food grain production, began a similar grassroots movement among small farmers in Africa. The men inspired the governments of a number of African countries to provide small loans for fertilizer and better seed. [These farmers were able to repay the loans easily through their increased crop yields.] What’s more, Carter and Borluag didn’t encourage the use of costly and difficult to maintain equipment like tractors. But rather these farmers primarily used hoes and other hand tools, Carter writes in his book: Talking Peace. Note: This has decidedly been a major problem in American farming. That is, first it was small tractors and small combines. Then they were bigger, then bigger… This meant farmers could farm bigger tracts of land — buying some some small family farmers out, then more small family farmers out… In turn, less and less youth were being raised on the land and the once backbone of our country started going away incrementally. This was all billed as: “progress.” But was it? The Amish, for instance, intentionally don’t use tractors or combines. They stay small, don’t buy each other out, and are tremendously good environmental stewards with their land.
I was just reading today in Harry Truman’s Where The Buck Stops book about his reflections on President Lincoln. Truman noted that Lincoln, as a youth, not only worked on his parent’s family farm, but he was also hired out to work on other small farms in the area to bring in additional income for his family. What’s more, Lincoln was primarily self taught in his early years and would walk almost 20 miles to Springfield to get law books to study. Conversely, I was talking to a family farmer this morning in Bluffton who was lamenting about the demise of the small family farm where kids learned the value of work. He said, for instance, that current presidential candidate Bernie Sanders’ campaign promise of a free college education seems a natural extension of all this. That is, many modern youth — because practically everything is handed to them at home these days — indeed feel entitled to a free secondary education as well. Note: Our agricultural platform calls for a strong return of the small family farm. So strong, in fact, that the country evolves back into an agrarian based one, with these small farms again being the backbone.
I was just reading part of the book: Soviet Foreign Policy Since World War II by Alvin Rubinstein. The author suggests that: “…Soviet disarmament policy reveals that Moscow has exploited the theme as a means of compensating for military and technological inferiority.” Well okay, here’s a different sort of geopolitical chess strategy in Russian/American foreign policy: Why not slow the “Arm’s Race” on our end? This might, in turn, slow it on their end. What’s more, then we take some of the considerable savings from this slowing and help the Russian people at large, many of whom are currently struggling financially with their relatively recent transition to a free market economy. Note: I am not suggesting reducing sanctions on the Russian government for it’s unprovoked incursion into the Ukraine. But rather, I’m suggesting finding, and using, safe humanitarian-aid conduits into that country.
I recently interviewed a woman who went to Haiti as part of a Mission Possible team. [Mission Possible is a Christian humanitarian aid agency.] Her impression shortly after landing there: “I’m not sure what Dante’s Seven Circles of Hell are, but I’m pretty sure I’ve skipped six of them.” She said there was searing heat, stick thin people everywhere, little electricity, even less running water, very little food. Her role was to primarily give dental hygiene talks at the various schools, ending the presentation with passing out a toothbrush to each student. She said she was absolutely amazed at the politeness and appreciation for the toothbrushes — because for many of the youth this would be one of the few things that would be theirs. Although this woman added that in many cases, these would become a “family toothbrush.” Note: Our foreign policy spins around getting way more help to those in the Third World. When we look around at our tremendously consumption oriented society in America, in comparison to these tremendously struggling people — we should be ashamed we aren’t helping more. Absolutely ashamed!
The big news this week is that Pope Francis went the the Greek island of Lesbos and took back three refugee families who will now be: “…guests of the Vatican.” Good idea. Our administration would open the White House for the same, and similar, things — as we have opened our home over the years. We have had what the Catholic Worker Movement refers to as a “Christ Room” in our places where we have, periodically, taken in homeless people. There is little reason many of us in America couldn’t be more generous with our space. Note: Another option is to house-share with friends, or neighbors… And take the savings to fund more, say, Habitat for Humanity home builds around the world.
I recently interviewed a couple in Lima, Ohio, who adopted two babies from mothers who were in crisis pregnancy. The couple are Christians. The wife said: “God adopts us into His family,” so it only stands to reason we should do the same for others. Good point. Our Life Issues position paper is heavy with helping people in “crisis pregnancy,” while also working exhaustively to change some of the systemic causes (poverty, dysfunctional families…) that leads to abortion. And not just in this country, either. Note: This wife’s parents were missionaries in Tanzania for 12 years. And she saw, firsthand, the “heart-wrenching poverty” and desperation of parents just trying to keep their children fed in a country where people work extremely hard all day for a meager $1 to $2. Our foreign policy stance spins around getting a lot more help to countries like this.
I interviewed Carl Liechty for one of my wife’s magazines today. Carl and his family were Mennonite missionaries in Japan for an extended period. Carl taught in several universities there and the family had a “house church” where they taught people about Jesus. Carl said another way the Japanese were learning about Christ was through all the Christian run schools and hospitals in the land. Carl added that, although the majority religion was Buddhism, the Japanese had a quite favorable view of Christianity because of the active benevolence inherit to these Christian institutions. (“Preach the gospel, and only if necessary: use words.” –St. Francis) Carl, 77, said he and his wife might soon be traveling to Japan again as interpreters for a Lima, Ohio / Harimo Cho, Japan, “Sister City” excursion. Note: Our administration would try to inspire way more Sister City projects between American towns and towns in the world at large. Projects replete with cultural exchanges, monetary aid to less advantaged towns, regular excursions back and forth… Globalization, at it’s finest. For more on our foreign policy position, see…
Being in close proximity to Bluffton University, I’ve been exposed to a lot of student and professor research over the years — some of which has been woven into our positions. At a recent BU Student Research Fair, I talked with a woman who had done a display on Multi-Cultural Adoption. She noted that multi-cultural adoption still comes up against a good deal of “social stigma” at times in this country. She said social workers advise parents of multi-cultural families to work on making their children feel as secure as possible with their cultural identities, explain about the dimensions of racism to the child, and be open to allowing the child to ask questions and process their feelings around issues related to their identities and problems they may be experiencing with, say, peer prejudices, and such. Note: Our education position paper proposes that multi-cultural classes be taught much earlier in the education process (significant multi-cultural classes are currently primarily taught at a collegiate level). We think introducing this much earlier makes sense, common sense, given how diverse America’s population is and how this would help promote so much more understanding and camaraderie. Note 2: At the same Research Fair, I interviewed a woman who did a display on abortion. She is an advocate for much more adoption in regard to crisis pregnancy, as she is an advocate for a stepped up approach in regard to changing the societal factors (poverty, broken homes, abuse…) that sometimes leads to abortion. To be pro-life, she said, one must be: “pro-people” in general. Our administration would agree.
The last couple days, I’ve been reading an extremely in-depth piece in the Atlantic about President Obama’s foreign policy. The policy comes across as being tremendously sophisticated and just as nuanced. At one point, Obama is quoted as saying: “I also believe that the world is a tough, complicated, messy, mean place, and full of hardship and tragedy.” That’s, I believe, a quite valid assessment. Obama’s actions, on the international stage, have often been a combination of protecting American interests, while also weaving in a modicum of humanitarian aid — just because, simply, the latter is: the right thing to do. Where our administration would be different, is that we would lead with a whole lot of humanitarian aid — which I believe would be in our best interest, spiritually. There are currently about 24,000 people starving to death worldwide every day; over 1 billion people have no access to clean drinking water; over 1 billion people are living in deplorable slum conditions; one child dies of malaria every 30 seconds in Africa… The world stands on the brink of catastrophic climate change; the seas are becoming dangerously depleted and polluted… Our foreign policy would significantly spin around each of these issues. Simply because the gospel message demands nothing less of us. For more on my foreign policy, see…